After a tumultuous election season and four days of anticipation as ballots were counted, former vice president Joe Biden won Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes Nov. 7, pushing him over the required 270 votes to become president.
As Election Day became ‘election week’, many Drake students stayed constantly tuned in as they waited for the presidential election to be decided.
“I had a tab open on my computer since Tuesday night and I didn’t close it until the results this morning,” Drake student Jayna Lieberman said the day of the announcement. “I would pretty much just sit there and keep refreshing the page.”
Drake student Kathryn Pagel had also been following the election results closely, even when she was at work.
“I had been following the election almost constantly since Tuesday night,” Pagel said. “When I wasn’t asleep, I was either watching CNN on my phone or listening to the audio. My roommates and I had it playing on our TV. Even when I was at work, my coworkers and I were checking the results every few minutes just to make sure nothing had changed.”
It was during one of these shifts at work that Pagel found out about Biden’s victory.
“I was at work at the time. I work at American Eagle, so I was cleaning out the fitting rooms before we opened, and my coworker rushed in to show me a screenshot her friend sent her showing Biden had 280 electoral votes,” Pagel said. “I was so shocked, I almost didn’t believe it. I took my phone out and saw a notification from my CNN app that said ‘BIDEN WINS’.”
After the shock wore off, Pagel had a visceral reaction to the news.
“I almost immediately started crying,” Pagel said. “My coworker and I literally ran to the back room to tell our manager, and I couldn’t stop smiling. I went back to cleaning the store, and I couldn’t focus on working because I was so relieved. Finally we have someone in office who at least respects the office and the American people. I know Biden has his flaws, but I believe he’ll repair some of the damage Trump has done to the country.”
Drake student Abs Wheeler said they had a similar reaction to Pagel when they first heard the news.
“I started crying because I was so relieved,” Wheeler said. “There’s still work to be done and this is only the beginning, but fear lost when Trump lost.”
Wheeler found out about the results via social media, as did Drake student Jeremy Alport.
“I literally smiled so big and I sighed a huge sigh of relief,” Alport said. “I also put my USA flag up in my window because I was so proud of our country for voting Trump out.”
Alport said he has some things he would like to see accomplished under the Biden administration.
“I hope to see a lot of policies that move our country forward into the 21st century, such as electoral, criminal justice and drug reform,” Alport said. “I also want us to become a more respectful country. I believe Biden will follow through on his promises as well unlike Trump.”
Wheeler said they have similar ideas about what needs to be accomplished during the next four years.
“I want to see reverses on the trans discrimination that the Trump administration put in place, advances in LGBTQ+ protections, problems in the criminal justice system actually addressed and a green new deal, among other progressive policies,” Wheeler said.
One of Lieberman’s hopes for the Biden administration has already been addressed; Biden has said that the US will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement on day one of his presidency.
“I would love it if we would rejoin the Paris agreement,” Lieberman said. “Also LGBT and women’s rights would be great. And maybe we could try to sweep up the systemic racism and throw it away.”
However, Pagel is more focused on the general attitude of the country, rather than specific policies.
“I just hope to see us as a country behave like people again,” Pagel said. “I hope to see us show empathy and concern for marginalized people. I hope to see us take care of each other rather than attacking each other. I guess I’m not focused on any specific policy changes. I just want to see changes in the attitudes we accept and encourage.”
These Drake students also have a message for people who choose not to vote because they think their vote doesn’t matter: it does.
“This election proved that every single vote counts,” Pagel said. “At one point, Biden was winning a couple states by only 2,000 votes. What if those 2,000 people didn’t vote? We could’ve had a much different outcome.”
Alport said this was part of the reason he chose to vote in his home state of Missouri.
“I want to say that your vote always matters. No matter if you live in a swing state or not, your vote always matters,” Alport said. “I voted in Missouri, a solid Trump and Republican state. I voted there instead of Iowa because even if my vote didn’t decide the election, it narrowed it up by one vote.”
Wheeler agreed that one of the big takeaways from this election is the idea that every vote matters.
“Your vote matters,” Wheeler said. “Take Georgia for example. Georgia flipped because of Stacey Abrams and her initiatives to get young voters involved. Without them we wouldn’t have seen Georgia go blue. In Arizona, indigenous people helped flip the state with their vote. You may think the two party system is broken, many of us do, or you may hate both candidates, but you’re not voting for your spouse, don’t look for a perfect fit. You’re voting for a leader, vote for the person who most closely supports what you believe. Your voice matters.”