Excitement Runs High Before Election Day

Photo: Voters lined up outside and within the Alameda County Courthouse in order to cast their ballots a day early on Monday, Nov. 3.
Chris Chung/Courtesy
Voters lined up outside and within the Alameda County Courthouse in order to cast their ballots a day early on Monday, Nov. 3.

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Students Prepare for Elections Day Excitement

Students discuss their feelings with election's day arriving.

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As people scrambled to and from classes yesterday, the lone students braving the pouring rain on Sproul Plaza were not flyering for an upcoming event or tabling for a student group.

Instead, they stood for hours to remind people to exercise their civic duty by voting in today's election.

CalPIRG volunteers huddled together under a tent, urging passersby to sign a pledge to vote and reminding them of its importance.

Despite the unfriendly weather, many students took a few minutes to sign the pledge, and by afternoon the banner was covered with hundreds of signatures.

In the final hours of a presidential campaign that has spanned almost two years, a tangible excitement surrounds the campus, especially among those ready to cast their first ballot in a national election.

"I've never seen Berkeley so excited," said senior Robert Klein, an elected delegate to the State Central Committee of the California Democratic party. "It's kind of remarkable how different it is."

First-time voter and freshman Ariel Ruby said she is looking forward to voting in this election.

"I'm so excited about (today)," Ruby said. "I just hope students keep the momentum going and that we get record numbers to the polls."

Even in non-political settings, the election has become a regular topic of discussion, permeating everyday conversations in transit, in class and in students' homes.

"Every time I take the bus, half of the cell phone conversations are about Obama," Klein said.

Over the past months, professors have structured class discussions and activities around this year's top election issues, tweaking their curriculum to incorporate the historic election.

Outside of the classroom, there has rarely been a day without hearing an election-related conversation, whether it's about the latest catchphrase from a debate or "Saturday Night Live" spoofs of the candidates.

Surprisingly, the omnipresence of the election has not seemed to turn off students' excitement.

As Nov. 4 approached, many students dropped their social calendars and headed out to hotly contested swing states to campaign.

"There has been a huge effort to campaign in the swing states ... it's really very exciting," said Kimberly Wagner, external vice president for Berkeley College Republicans.

This year, pundits have predicted that the youth vote will be critical in the election-and judging by the early numbers, students have embraced their potentially tide-changing role.

On the UC Berkeley campus alone, a record 9,425 students have been registered since August.

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters has also reported a dramatic increase in registered voters, absentee ballots and early voters, officials said.

While the results will be announced hour by hour tonight, many students will attend viewing parties set to commence throughout the Bay Area.

A number of different student groups, including the Berkeley College Republicans and the Cal Berkeley Democrats, will be holding parties to watch the election returns, members said.

As this whirlwind campaign season comes to a close, regardless of who is elected, many students said they hoped the excitement and youth involvement of this election will continue to be a political fixture.

"What's happening is very exciting and very unique," Klein said. "But what I hope is that it won't be unique for much longer."


Contact Kelly Fitzpatrick at [email protected]

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