‘I don’t think it’s been emphasized enough how important this election is’: students across campus head to polls

Many student voters headed to the polling place in the Commons, including Madeline Doane of VCU Votes. Photo by Raelyn Fines

Katharine DeRosa, Contributing Writer

Adam Lockett, president of the VCU chapter of Virginia21, was standing in the Compass to spread the word on Election Day as students headed to their polling places.

“I don’t think it’s been emphasized enough how important this election is,” said Lockett, a junior graphic design major. “Going into 2020 as well, we have a chance to let our politicians know how we’re shaping the commonwealth.”

Virginia21 provides students with information on college affordability, student rights, election access, campus safety and economic opportunity policies.

Many students said they were excited to exercise their right to vote. VCU junior David Baker said that it was his duty.

“There’s no reason for me, someone who is not doing a lot today, who has the full capability to vote, to not vote,” the English major said.

Polling locations for VCU students living on or near campus included the University Student Commons, George Washington Carver Elementary School, Dominion Place and Tabernacle Baptist Church.

Louis Ackerman, a VCU sophomore majoring in communication arts, expressed distaste for current political leadership and said they wanted a change.

“I’m voting because I think we need to start from the bottom line and work up from there,” Ackerman said.

Taylor Easley, a senior majoring in social work, said in recent elections “big things have happened.”

“I think that there should be a big change in government,” Easley said. “Even if the candidate I voted for doesn’t get into office, I know I did my part.”

Madeline Doane is the leader of VCU Votes, an organization that promotes voter engagement on campus. Doane said the organization registered 3,000 new voters on campus this semester alone.

Doane, a senior double majoring in political science and international studies with a Latin American concentration, said she voted Nicholas Da Silva for the open 5th District City Council seat because of his “dedication to the Richmond community.”

“I voted for Nicholas Da Silva because it seems like he’s been an activist in the Richmond community for a really long time and is a working class individual,” Doane said. “He’s been super active in the redistricting and making sure that we are protecting the vulnerable people in our communities.”

Doane said this election holds weight because all the seats in the Virginia Senate and the House of Delegates are up for grabs.

“I think that’s often a big disconnect that people have regarding local elections,” Doane said. “Our local politicians have so much to say about what we hear at the national level, and in reality, our local politicians have the power to be influencing the legislation surrounding those matters.”

Fashion merchandising major Madeline McElgunn said that local elections affect constituents “most strongly,” and that voting was a family tradition for her.

“I always go to Chesterfield and vote with the rest of my family,” McElgunn said. “We usually wake up early, have coffee and then walk to our polling place together and talk about the issues on the way.”

McElgunn said she was hoping to unseat her current representative in Senate District 10 — Republican Glen Sturtevant — and that she was hoping for a Democrat majority in the General Assembly.

“Glen Sturtevant has been our state representative, and he is very much against women’s bodily autonomy and a right to an abortion,” McElgunn said. “I am voting for Ghazala Hashmi because she is a supporter of legalizing marijuana and a woman’s right to choose.”

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