UMD campus divided on Election Day

All day Tuesday, students walked out of the polling places at Stamp and Ritchie, wearing their “I Voted” stickers proudly.

For many, this historical presidential election marked the first time they would be eligible to vote.

“We have one of the most diverse campuses, arguably, in the country,” said sophomore Julia Zhen, a double supply chain management and information systems major. “So I think the fact that we have so many students and so many student organizations, ideals and beliefs across campus, means there’s a divide.”

Zhen is a part of Maryland Public Interest Research Group (MaryPIRG), a student-led advocacy group that helps foster political awareness on campus. The group was responsible for registering 1,500 students to vote on campus in the general election.

“I’ve been putting my blood, sweat and tears into this campaign,” Zhen said. “It’s just funny to me that my first presidential election has been, well, this.”

According to chief Republican election judge Charisma Wooten, who has held her position in Prince George’s County for two decades, what she noticed was how many students voted in this election.

“There are too many people who have died, who have been lynched and who have suffered in life, just to exercise the right to vote,” Wooten said. “It’s not just something to do, it’s a responsibility that I take very seriously.”

Some undergraduates who are not yet old enough to vote, have still let their voice be heard on campus. Freshman and aerospace engineer major Camilo Melnyk stood in front of Stamp on Tuesday, campaigning for Maryland’s new congressman, Chris Van Hollen.

img_0720“I’ve been encouraging everyone in my dorm, and all my classmates, to go out and vote,” Melnyk said. “I can’t vote because I’m not old enough yet. I think it’s a shame if you are eligible and you don’t.”

Several student groups, including College Republicans, organized an Election Watch Party at Hoff’s Theater in Stamp. For the night of a presidential election, not many people were in the audience.

“Certainly a week ago, or three months ago, I don’t think any of us would have told you it was going to be this close,” said international business and government and politics double major junior Jacob Veitch, who is the chairman of College Republicans on campus. “It doesn’t matter to us if you’re a Republican or Democrat, or an Independent, Libertarian or Green Party supporter.”

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