Boris Tsang / Sun Photography Editor

Watch parties in large groups, like this one at the Tatkon Center for the 2018 midterms, do not comply with Cornell's COVID-19 group gathering restrictions.

October 26, 2020

Cornell Dems, Reps Prepare for Socially Distant Election Night

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Typically, the Cornell Democrats and Cornell Republicans gather, hoping to see their candidates win on Election Day. But this year will look different.

For this election year, each group is planning on trading in large gatherings for election night kits, small gatherings and reacting to results through their computer screens.

Both clubs plan on hosting election night watch parties with their members, but they will be primarily over Zoom.

The Cornell Democrats don’t plan on hosting any event in person. The group has encouraged members to watch with their housemates or roommates, but will not host the large Election Day gathering they typically do — or even small ones.

One way the Cornell Democrats are trying to enhance comradery is by making election night kits to distribute to general body members. These kits will include party horns, balloons, a United States map for members to fill in with red and blue as states get called and tissues if the results don’t go their way.

“We’re trying to mimic the in-person watch party as much as possible. I think these kits are a cute way to do that,” said Vale Lewis ’21, president of the Cornell Democrats.

The Cornell Republicans are planning to attempt more in-person Election Day activity. In addition to a Zoom watch party, some members have organized small in-person gatherings that follow Cornell’s behavioral compact.

“We have to prioritize safety and make sure that we can accommodate as many people as possible,” said Cornell Republicans president Weston Barker ’21. “Our goal as the club leadership is really to make sure that we emphasize virtual accessibility. We recognize with a lot of students not being present on campus, they should be able to have the experience of sitting down in a room with friends to watch.”

Leading up to election night, both the Cornell Republicans and Democrats are taking part in a final push to Election Day by phone banking for candidates in the local House race.

The Republicans will be calling for Ithaca’s current House member Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) in the days leading up to the election. The Democrats will take part in one phone bank this Tuesday for Reed’s opponent, Tracy Mitrano J.D. ’95.

The Democrats have also planned their phone banking for the weekend before the election, with two three-hour calling periods on Saturday and Sunday, specifically targeting Senate candidates Sara Gideon in Maine and Theresa Greenfield in Iowa, as well as New York State senate candidate Leslie Danks Burke.