Fall 2020 has been a unique time in the lives of students at the University of Indianapolis. In addition to dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has taken many of their courses from on-campus to online, some students also have had to tackle being first-time voters in the 2020 presidential election. Sophomore political science and international relations major Blanca Osorio Ortega and sophomore international relations major Ellie Wilson had especially unique experiences because of the direct involvement in the election.
Osorio Ortega said she worked the polls on Election Day at her local library. She said she arrived at 5 a.m. and was told by the inspector in charge to prepare for a lot of people, but because early voting reduced the number of people who came to the polls, the experience was not stressful.
“I wanted to work the polls just to be a part of history,” Osorio Ortega said. “I know it sounds crazy, but we are living in historic times. I mean, right now, both parties are very different. There really isn’t a middle ground that we can have anymore, and it’s kind of sad. But I think that whatever the outcome of this election is, it will be pretty much historic.”
Wilson said she worked all of Election Day for Democratic Indiana State Senate District 36 Candidate Ashley Eason’s campaign. She arrived at the polls at 6 a.m. and worked until 6:30 p.m., she said.
“Unfortunately, both candidates that I worked for ended up losing, and that was tough,” Wilson said. “It’s nine days post-election, and I think, ‘Finally, I’m starting to come down off of that high of just how crazy the past month of my life has been.’”
Wilson said she focused on the candidates she had gotten to know personally and felt bad for those who lost for many days after the election. Wilson said she felt like she could take a breath after President-elect Joe Biden gave his victory speech.
“I finally started to feel like everything, hopefully, once he’s in office, will go back to normal, which gave me just a sense of relief,” Wilson said.
Osorio Ortega said she felt that for the media to declare Biden, the Democratic candidate, the president-elect was wrong because ballots were currently being recounted and President Donald Trump had lawsuits in multiple states. She said she believes that more will be revealed in the coming days.
“I think that Biden supporters should be OK with the recounts, because then it would definitely prove that Biden rightfully won. But if it shows that Trump won, then the media will be to blame, because they made Biden supporters think that a blue wave occurred,” Osorio Ortega said.
Wilson said that the results are legitimate. To poke holes in the electoral process is to poke holes in democracy, she said. She said she looks forward to seeing Republicans stand up to the Trump administration and that the president needs to focus on smoothly transitioning out of office and unifying our country after this divisive election. “The fact that the president is choosing to ignore that and is choosing to continue to divide the American people is concerning, no matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat,” Wilson said. “So I look forward to seeing Republicans stand up to the president and come to their senses to declare that Biden did win the election.”
Osorio Ortega said that what students can learn from this election is how to have open discussions. Right now, she said, we are living in a hostile political climate.
“Students should learn from this election that not everyone is going to think like you, not everyone is going to support the same things as you,” Osorio Ortega said. “But at the end of the day, you have to be able to be civil about it and be able to not let it get the best of you, because I’ve seen so many people cut other people off because of their political ideologies. And at the end of the day, that’s not right.”
Wilson hopes that what students take away from this election is the importance of political participation and voting. The fact that we can all have different opinions is what makes our political process beautiful, she said.
“I hope what a lot of people take away [from the election] is how to have positive conversations about that, where you don’t walk away from it and feel like you’re just angry,” she said. “But instead, you walk away and you say, ‘Okay, even if that person ends up winning and makes the decisions, I see in them that they’re a patriot. I see in them that they care about our country and about our people.’ So having that positive political discourse is something that clearly we need more [of]. I hope that a lot of students that are watching all of this unfold are starting to think about how they could do that in their own lives.”