Many students oppose Youngkin, casino referendum at polls on Tuesday

Signs for voting locations are placed outside the University Student Commons on Tuesday for the November general election. Photo by Megan Lee

Katrina Lee, Contributing Writer

Students and Richmonders gathered at the University Student Commons on Tuesday morning, among other local polling locations near campus, to vote in the Nov. 2 general election.

Freshman art foundation student Campbell Duncan voted for the first time Tuesday morning at the Commons to model her parents, who “always made an effort to vote.”

“Every vote matters. If enough people believe their vote doesn’t matter and doesn’t exercise that right, then no one’s opinion will be heard,” Duncan said.

Richmond resident Arthur Rogers. Photo by Megan Lee

Polling places for students for the Virginia general election this Tuesday were divided by voting district and housing locations. For the City of Richmond, there were races for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, House of Delegates, Commonwealth’s Attorney, sheriff and treasurer on the ballot. 

Those registered at Gladding Residence Center could vote at the Clark Springs Elementary School, while students living in the Brandt, Rhoads, Johnson, West Grace South and West Grace North halls could vote at the Commons. Students registered at Broad and Belvidere could vote at the George W. Carver Elementary School, according to the Richmond government website. 

Senior criminal justice student Katherine Cardozo and a friend. Photo by Megan Lee

Selene Norman, a senior political science student, was one of the first students at the polling location Tuesday morning to cast her vote.

“I came to vote because I just didn’t want Youngkin to win,” Norman said. “I care very deeply about reproductive rights for everyone, and seeing what’s happening in Texas with the abortion ban and knowing it can potentially happen here has caused me to vote and encourage others to do the same.” 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill on May 19 to ban abortions if a fetal heart beat is detected, which usually occurs around six weeks of pregnancy, according to the Miscarriage Assocation.

These locations were open for voting from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., according to the Virginia Department of Elections website

Junior communication arts student Jane Rinaldi also expressed concerns about reproductive rights going into this election. Rinaldi voted at the Institute for Contemporary Art on Tuesday morning to oppose Youngkin and favor Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe as well.

“I saw last night that Youngkin was ahead in the polls and I found his platform very harmful and dangerous, so I came mostly to vote in opposition to Youngkin,” Rinaldi said. 

A referendum, concerning the building of a ONE Casino and Resort in the 8th District, was also on the ballot for this election, according to the City of Richmond website.

Senior political science student Selene Norman. Photo by Megan Lee

Homeland security and emergency management student Xzavier Mashack said that one of the biggest reasons he came to vote for the Casino Authorization Referendum.

“I want to make sure that a casino will not be detrimental to the community. I don’t want it to be some cash grab by politicians,” Mashack said. “I want it to be something that actually helps the citizens of Richmond.”

Mashack also advocated for the importance of voting to get individuals’ voices heard on political issues. 

“Voter apathy is real, but staying silent doesn’t help anything. Use your vote to be heard,” Mashack said. “We have a privilege and we should be using it as such.”

Richmond resident Arthur Rogers also claimed that the casino was one of the main reasons he came to vote on Tuesday morning.

“I only have lived in Richmond for about a year, but I am worried about how this casino will affect the people of color in Richmond so I came to vote at least for that,” Rogers said.

Richmond For All, an organization fighting for social justice and economic development for Richmonders, released a statement in opposition of the referendum. 

By voting down the casino, we can finally put a stop to politicians using exploitative economic development to further their political careers,” the press release stated. “Casinos will not grow our city’s economy, and they will rob working people of their livelihood.”

Many polling locations, such as the Commons, the ICA and George W. Carver Elementary School had signs posted up around the building saying “vote no casino, one bad bet,” as well as campaign signs for McAuliffe and Mark Herring for governor and attorney general, respectively.

Bottom right: Junior communication arts student Jane Rinaldi. Photo by Megan Lee

Senior criminal justice student Katherine Cardozo was at the Commons on Tuesday to cast her vote in support of McAuliffe.

“The reason why I voted is because it is my civic duty, and I feel like voting is important since I have the privilege to,” Cardozo said. “Everything that has happened in the last year in terms of equality also encouraged me to vote today.”

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