Students share thoughts while waiting on election results

By Cole Schnieders, Copy Editor

At time of publication, it is unclear if President Donald Trump has secured his second term or if former Vice President Joe Biden will have gained enough electoral college votes to be elected 46th president of the United States.

As of late Wednesday, Newman students and the rest of the country were waiting for votes to be tallied in a few swing states, though Biden was in the lead.

While Kansas’ electoral votes and down ballot races were called early on Tuesday, several Newman students stayed up to see the rest of the election.

Pi Gamma Mu and Diversity Round Table co-hosted an election night watch party. PGM President Jenny Duong said it was exciting to watch results come in live as polling sites closed.

“We were just talking among ourselves on how we hope the election would turn out and just hoping that everyone was safe out there and that they can get their votes in,” she said.

DRT president Olivia Camarena said she ended up leaving early.

“As a Latina female, I felt that it might be dangerous for me to be out,” she said. “Coming home and watching everything, I did stay up… I was nervous for everybody and mostly just concerned for the safety of civilians across the country.”
Senior Clare Morgan and SGA Senator Jordan Ojile said they watched the results come in periodically at home.

“My little brother and I would sneakily get on Politico and just look at the map, but I really wasn't paying attention a lot,” Morgan said. “I was praying a lot about it, but I wasn't actively watching it.”

Ojile said he is concerned about the reaction to the results, no matter who wins once the final count is in.

“You’ve had the Proud Boys patrolling the streets. They've made statements about their actions following the election, so I definitely think there's concern if Biden wins,” Ojile said. “I also think that if Trump wins, there's definitely a concern of protests and civil unrest from the left, and that can cause, potentially, more clashes, and the Proud Boys could get involved as counter protesters.”

Duong said she was more concerned about voter suppression than civil unrest.

“A lot of people are saying, ‘Stop counting the votes,’ and I don't think that's right, so I'm just more nervous about people not getting their voices heard. I mean, if the vote is there, this is what it reflects in the U.S., and we have to accept it,” she said.

Camarena said she hopes whoever wins does what’s best for the country.

“I just want some kind of normalcy. I want people to be safe. I want us to be able to recover from COVID,” she said. “It's really nerve-wracking when it's undecided right now. And we're in this stage just sitting and waiting to hear the results.”

Several races also were decided on a local level, and among them was a Sedgwick County Commission race in which Democrat Sarah Lopez was trying to unseat incumbent Michael O’Donnell.

However, according to the Wichita Eagle, a recording of a conversation in which O'Donnell plotted with other local politicians to falsely smear Mayor Brandon Whipple was released just before the election, and O’Donnell promised to step down if he won the election.

He did win, and assuming he keeps his promise, Republicans will be able to appoint a replacement.

“I was very disappointed with our local elections,” Duong said. “So my county commissioner was, well is, I guess, Michael O'Donnell and he won again even despite all the things he did.”

Republican Roger Marshall defeated Democrat Barbara Bollier early in the night in a bid to take over retiring Sen. Pat Robert’s U.S. Senate seat.

“I definitely think Barbara Bollier ran a fantastic campaign, and I wasn't certain who would win,” Ojile said. “Although when Marshall did eventually win, I reminded myself, ‘Well, Kansas is historically a red state.’ And so it didn't really shock me that we remained red.”

Across the country, races were much tighter, many decided by only a few thousand ballots.

“I didn't expect it to be this close,” Camarena said. “I have to think about the other side. There’s a lot of people who are pushing for something that they also believe in… Ultimately, I respect everybody's opinions. I think that's the beautiful thing about this country.”

For now, though, students said, they recognize that the election is in the hands of voters.

“The things that are happening in our world externally, in politics and government and all of that, are infinitely less important than the things that happen in our own hearts and in our own relationships,” Morgan said. “At the end of the day, the greatest thing that you can do is to be kind to people, smile at people when you see them, and just be loving in your day-to-day life.”

PHOTO: Leanne Vastbinder, Opinion and Online Editor