Sunday, September 26, 2021

MSU students talk feelings, nerves surrounding Election Day

November 3, 2020
Wrappings of “I voted stickers” sit in a bin at Willow Elementary in Lansing on Nov. 3, 2020. This site houses two precincts and had people trickling in for both precincts.
Wrappings of “I voted stickers” sit in a bin at Willow Elementary in Lansing on Nov. 3, 2020. This site houses two precincts and had people trickling in for both precincts. —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

Sarah Wietcha, a Democrat and senior, double majoring in theatre and arts and humanities, completed her absentee ballot as soon as it was dropped off in late Sept. and it was returned to the clerk in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan in early Oct.

She is working at the Mount Holly Elementary School precinct, or precinct 15, today.

"I do it for democracy," she said.

For many college students, this is the first presidential election that they can vote in. Tensions are running high and as they prepare to cast their vote, these students can't help but feel the weight it carries.

The weight has inspired many to vote early, while others are preparing to vote in person. According to East Lansing City Clerk Jennifer Shuster, about 10,600 ballots were issued to residents. Roughly 65% had been returned as of Oct. 20. This is in comparison with the last election, where only 2,429 ballots had been issued and 1,176 were returned as of Oct. 24, 2016.

A significant difference.

Nerves and emotions surrounding the election

Luke Kozlowski, a Democrat and sophomore majoring in computer science, is fairly confident Biden will win, while also worried that the current leader is going to scheme and undermine the results.

"There is a lot going on in my head," he said.

Miguel, who chose not to offer his last name in hopes to remain somewhat anonymous, is a Democrat and senior majoring in civil engineering. As the results edge closer, Miguel can't help but worry about his future.

"I can't take another Trump presidency and blatant disregard to science. What's the point of taking 4 years to get a stem degree if people just think I'm a libtard for listening to experts talked about their research," he said. "I've done everything right. I did well in high school and had tons of extracurriculars to get into a good school. I've made it to my senior year and am about to get my degree. But, I'm not too sure that it matters at this point."

Wietecha is nervous about today to say the least.

"With the recent repeal on banning concealed carry in state and government buildings, especially the specific ban on concealed carry in polling locations, I'm nervous. I've heard a lot of talks, from the far left about protesting and from the far-right about violent demonstrations," Wietecha said. "I want to give everyone their vote equally and fairly, but I'm a little nervous that we're going to run into trouble with some of the extremists."

She wishes she was hopeful, but after the results of the 2016 election between President Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and the way Trump has been calling upon disregard and fraudulence of mail-in ballots, she said it's pretty hard to be.

Carly Lize, a Democrat and senior majoring in English, is stressing. While she's trying to keep an optimistic façade, there's a nagging sense in her gut that things will go south.

"I feel like, no matter what happens, there's gonna be unrest after the election," Lize said.

Jack Harrison, communications chair for the MSU College Republicans said he is feeling good about the chances for a Republican win, especially in Michigan.

The Michigan Republican party, he said, has made between 8-9 million contacts and members of the party have been campaigning a lot over the past several weeks.

Harrison himself has attended some of this week's rallies and the large crowd turnouts have left him hopeful for the outcome of the election. Regardless, he still thinks the results may end up being very close.

"This past weekend, some MSU College Republicans, some other college Republicans across the state, we went to have a state-wide deployment with young Republicans going to the Kalamazoo area, Macomb, Oakland and of course it's by perspective so it may be a little biased but I don't see the college Democrats going to the same lengths for campaigning," Harrison said.

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With safety being a priority, Harrison said many people have been phone banking and based on participation he is confident the state will see results leaning red.

The Michigan Republican Party, in his eyes, has done everything they can to work tirelessly for this election.

"I'm just really hoping that regardless of who wins our country can just come together because we are already so polarized and divided," Harrison said. "I hope we can at the end of the day remember that we are all Americans, we are all in this country together."

A look at Michigan's place in this election and potential unrest

After several months of protests, many agencies are making plans to defuse potential unrest in advance. According to Curbed, this includes plywood, for boarding up storefronts, especially on main streets, and curfews.

According to NPR, major cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, Boston and New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. are among the first to execute said plans.

In a report released Monday by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project listed Michigan as one of the five highest-risk states for violence from right-wing militia groups, in addition to Georgia, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Michigan is a swing state that has made headlines following the foiled kidnapping attempt of Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Militias have been active across the state, including the Proud Boys, the Michigan Liberty Militia and the Michigan Home Guard, the report stated — The Proud Boys are the most active.

Michigan also experienced some of the earliest reopen protests in light of the coronavirus pandemic and demonstrations in regards to the Black Lives Matter protest have also been quite prevalent.

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