For weeks, the Cornell campus had been buzzing with activity to get students to vote. On Election Day on Tuesday, these efforts to get out the vote came to fruition as students nervously and excitedly watched two increasingly polarized parties wrestle for control over the nation’s fate in a historical moment in American politics.
Across the campus, a number of election viewing parties took place while polls were closing and election results were slowly coming out out. From the Law School’s Myron Taylor Hall to Kennedy Hall on the Ag Quad, students chatted over pizza and watched the live coverage of the elections in anticipation as the results unfolded.
While Democrats seized control of the House of Representatives, the Republicans maintained control of the Senate. Students held their breaths watching contentious races in states ranging from New York to Texas, where Democratic candidate Beto O’ Rourke ultimately lost to incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
“Although I wanted to be optimistic that Texas would turn blue, I really didn’t think that it would,” Alexia Heinrich ’20 told The Sun about her home state in Olin Library.
Regardless of the location, a common theme that students noticed in this election cycle was the increasingly divided political environment.
“It’s definitely divided,” said Keelin Kelly ’20, an ambassador for the Andrew Goodman Foundation, which hosted the viewing party in Kennedy Hall. “My hope is that it energizes voters, especially young voters.”
Along with the Vote Everywhere Coalition, the Andrew Goodman Foundation provided free shuttles from various locations on campus — such as Gates Hall, Schurman Hall and Risley Hall —- to get students to voting stations in Tompkins County from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Jenna Oliver ’21 concurred with Kelly on the divided political environment, saying that politics have become a lot more personal than before.
“I think that’s one of the main contentious issues right now is just whether your focus is more on security of our boarder or compassion and empathy,” Oliver said. “Not to sound biased.”
Despite this energy from active voters, there were also a number of students who told The Sun about their disinterest in politics.
For example, Jeff Chan ’21 said that schoolwork and Cornell’s rigorous atmosphere and disciplined expectations took precedence over civil duty.
Furthermore, a few students said that the process for obtaining absentee ballots and mailing them made things too complicated. Michelle Glauberzon ’21 and Anna Khamura ’21 expressed a wish for an on-campus polling place, but did not know about Cook House’s polling booths.
Amidst the mixed feelings towards political participation and the divided political landscape, Keelin and Oliver thought that people were more encouraged to get involved in politics and voting due to the Brett Kavanaugh hearing, the election of Trump and other recent events.
“It’s a lot of both sides showing up and being inspired by what’s going on currently.” Oliver said, showing her “I Voted” sticker.
Keelin hopes the election energizes voters, especially young voters.
“[The midterm election] is definitely going to stand out in history,” she said.