Students react to Biden’s victory with hope for future

President-elect Joe Biden speaks at a rally in Norfolk, Virginia at Booker T. Washington High School. Photo by Carter Marks, Royals Media.

Katharine DeRosa, Staff Writer

Freshman political science major Nya Musa voted for Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Virginia primary but shifted her support to former Vice President Joe Biden in the presidential election. Although Biden declared victory Saturday, Musa said there’s “a little bit of hesitance to celebrate.”

Biden passed the benchmark of 270 electoral votes needed to secure the presidency after winning Pennsylvania on Saturday morning. President Donald Trump’s campaign hasn’t conceded the election and pursued legal challenges in states such as Pennsylvania and Georgia.

Nya Musa. Photo by Katharine DeRosa

Musa said she’s happy about the outcome of the election but doesn’t want to get complacent without seeing systemic change. In Biden’s victory speech Saturday night, he preached a message of unity and reconciliation for America.

“I’m humbled by the trust and confidence you’ve placed in me,” Biden said. “I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but unify.”

Biden said he wants to win the confidence of all people, regardless of partisanship. 

“The people of this nation have spoken,” Biden said during his speech. “They have delivered us a clear victory.”

Freshman art foundation student Savannah Brown said she voted for Biden and believes Trump supporters could stand in the way of unity through prejudices against the LGBTQ community, the Black community and women.

“I don’t even know if we can ever be truly united,” Brown said.

Savannah Brown. Photo by Katharine DeRosa

Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, referenced the Bible during his speech and called the upcoming months America’s “time to heal.”

“I feel like we can’t really heal unless we have progressive policies,” Brown said.

Many Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have failed to acknowledge Biden’s win. Trump falsely declared victory the morning after the Nov. 3 election, when approximately 25 million votes had not been counted, according to NBC News

Trump said he would order election officials to stop counting ballots, but his campaign ran into several obstacles finding legal ground for that order. Some litigation is ongoing, including one lawsuit that is attempting to dispute if ballots received by the state of Pennsylvania after 8 p.m. on Election Day should count. Experts are unsure if the Supreme Court will take the case and do not expect it to change the election’s outcome, Time Magazine reported.

Lawsuits compelling election officials in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Michigan and Georgia to stop counting or disqualify ballots were rejected.

Members of College Republicans at VCU spoke in favor of Trump during an Oct. 26 debate with VCU’s Young Democrats. Member Josh Hartt criticized demands to abolish the Electoral College during his opening statement, saying the system prevents states such as Texas and California from deciding federal elections.

“There’s a lot of talk about abolishing the Electoral College, the very system that allows for minorities to have a voice in the United States,” Hartt said. “They are willing to tear down our judicial system based off of petty, party squabbling.”

As of Tuesday, Trump secured 214 electoral votes, and Biden won 290. Georgia, North Carolina and Alaska have not been called for either candidate as votes continue to be counted. In the 2016 presidential election, Trump secured the presidency with a win in the Electoral College but lost the popular vote to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

Biden garnered more votes than any presidential candidate in history with 76.3 million votes as of Tuesday night. The record for most votes was previously held by former President Barack Obama’s election in 2008, when he received 69.4 million votes.

Musa was one of 2.9 million Virginians who voted with an absentee ballot, according to the Virginia Department of Elections. She said the president’s claims of voter fraud are baseless and discriminatory against people with health issues.

“I think it’s just a slap in the face to those people who had to vote that way,” Musa said.

Music education major Alex Trouslot said Trump’s claims of voter fraud are hypocritical because Republicans around the country participated in voter intimidation. A group of Trump supporters protested outside of the Fairfax County Government Center during early voting in September, disrupting people who came to vote.  

“He should just give it up at this point,” the sophomore said.

Trouslot, like Musa and Brown, is looking ahead at the next four years. He said he wants to see policy changes before people forget what they asked for in this election.

“I fear we’re going to not have any drive to go forward.” — Alex Trouslot, music education major.

Biden has more moderate policies than former Democrat hopefuls for president, such as Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vice President-elect Sen. Kamala Harris. Biden stated he does not support defunding the police, which is an unpopular opinion among many young Democrats.

The majority of youth voters, ages 18 to 29, supported Biden, according to a report from Tufts University. Black youth favored Biden the most with 87% voting for him, and white youth favored him the least with 51% voting for Biden. 

More youth voters voted in this election, the university found, with 50-52% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 casting a ballot. The same data methodology in 2016 found 42-44% of youth voters participated in the general election.

Forensic science major Yusrah Ahsanullah said she’s relieved by the election results.

“He’s a politician versus a reality star,” Ahsanullah said of Biden.

The junior said she’s hopeful for the next four years and wants to see change in policies, including the abolishment of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

“I hope they stick to their word,” Ahsanullah said.

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