Olivia Samerdyke, Editor-in-Chief
Twelve years ago on Election Day, my brother ran up to me at school, the very picture of a teary kindergartener. I asked if someone had hit him. No, he gravely told me—he thought he was supposed to vote for Al Gore by putting an “X” next to George Bush on the ballots our school had provided for the mock election. Oops. Bush won both the mock and the highly contested 2000 election, and I wondered if real voters had made my five-year-old brother’s mistake in Florida. No one wanted a repeat of that for 2012, and everyone seemed afraid that would happen again, whether they were news-writer or members of the MBC community.
“This will be close,” Dr. Ong predicted as he drove the Voting Van on Election Morning.
Facebook predicted a real “white-knuckle evening” and emotions most definitely ran high at the Election Night Broadcast at Miller Chapel. The small sanctuary was packed, and noise filled the air, going silent every few minutes when updates were read. If the numbers favored President Obama, cheers invariably exploded.
Pieces of toast flying through the air would not have been out of place in the MBC setting. However, the white-knuckle emotions were more prevalent in most students, rather than the good cheer of “a toast.” Many students admitted to feeling very nervous or disgusted with the way the numbers were leaning at both state and national levels– particularly when Governor Romney seemed to have the lead.
“Elections aren’t supposed to fill you with fear,” Joana Mills, a junior complained.
Other students specifically cited worries about their Pell Grants, and by extent their financial abilities to stay in college. They also named healthcare, specifically reproductive rights, as another big worry.
Dr. Scott reassured students and viewers in his interview on the broadcast. “American democracy is one of the miracles of human civilization.”
He also called American democracy an adventure to participate in. Adventures have their ups and downs, too. Without some suspense and disappointments, they would not be adventures. But they always turn around at some point.
Watchers in Miller Chapel greeted Dr. Scott’s words with great enthusiasm. And the adventure did turn around as the evening went on, particularly when California, unexpectedly, gave all 55 of its Electoral Votes to the incumbent.
When Obama had the needed number of votes, 270, a roar went up among his supporters on campus.
“Dr. van Assendelft had to go around and make sure we were all Democrats,” Katie Hurlock, ’16 laughed. “We were really obnoxious.”
The morning after the election showed the President victorious with 303 Electoral Votes—online. The Post claimed the election “too close to call,” an obnoxious conflict of information. Still, no one was visibly teary, and no one accidentally voted for the wrong candidate (or at least admitted to doing so). Virginia voter turnout closely rivaled four years ago, so despite the noise about attack-ads, voter fraud, and every other controversy, 2012 provided a decent election. It will be interesting to see where and how 2016 sees the US and its voting population stands. Hopefully, the knuckles won’t be as white.