Whatcom voters nervous but hopeful


Nov. 6, 2020 — A mixed group of college students and middle-aged people stood in the gym, all glued to their phones, refreshing, reloading and trying to stay updated on the results of the presidential election.

Some people are not willing to check the results until the next day, and some are sitting with their political groups hoping for the best and making calls until the very end.

Nov. 3, 2020 stretched through a week, leaving people in a standstill while votes continue to be  counted.

As people gathered on Zoom for a virtual watch party, one person said, “Is everyone wildly refreshing their screens?”

While the count slowly comes in, some students express their hope and fears about the election.

Chair of Young Democrats of WWU, Elijah Rakha- Sheketoff, keeps his hopes high for the outcome of the presidential election.

“I am really excited and hopeful. First of all, locally we had some great results … and then nationally, I’m really excited. We’re gonna win this,” Rakha-Sheketoff said.

Young Democrats at Western were phone-banking to Wisconsin voters along with other Young Democrats groups.

By week’s end, four states still hadn’t been called: Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Nevada.  This is due to the high volume of  mail-in ballots still being counted; however, many of these states are very close to completion, according to the Associated Press Election live map.

“These results aren’t actually all that surprising,” Rakha-Sheketoff said. ”Just, definitely there might have been some disappointment last night on some people who were hoping for a 413 or 412 something like that electoral win. But the fact is, what’s happening right now was always the most likely scenario,”

Rakha-Sheketoff said the fact that Georgia is so close is actually a victory, since Georgia has a history of voting Republican in many presidential, senate and house elections

Ariana Au, a first-year Western student, said it’s nerve-racking waiting for results but Au is hopeful.

“This year is more important because we actually get a say in our future,” Au said.

Au is not alone in the stress of waiting for results.

Nicole Ballard, ASVP for Governmental Affairs at WWU, said, “This is the first presidential election that I have been able to vote in, but this election seems more stressful because for a lot of people their rights are on the line.”

While people are trying to wait patiently at the edge of their seats, some are nervous about what will come after the election winner is called.

On Wednesday CBS News reported many cities, notably some in Arizona, having post-election protests.

“I’m scared and nervous. A lot of people are preparing for a fight it seems…no matter what the outcome is, I think there will be backlash,” Au said. Au is worried about action such as riots and white supremacy groups targeting people of color and the LGBTQ+ community.

The post-election fears haven’t scared people away from seeing an importance in voting.

“There’s more at stake this year than the 2016 election. Younger people are now able to vote and use their voices. This election affects us the most because this is the world we’re going to be growing up in,” Au said.

In the 2016 election, 48% of college students voted, according to Democracy Counts: A report on U.S college and university student voting.

However, according to a Harvard Kennedy School study, about 63% of college students intended to vote in the 2020 election.

“I won’t say that it is a more important election than any other,” Ballard said. “But I will say I think folks are more engaged in this election because federal politics are more [visible] in the media.”

Ballard mentioned that Whatcom has had an increase in voter turnout. The 2020 voter turnout in Whatcom County was 86.09%.

In 2016, 60.52% of Washington’s population voted. In 2020, 84.4% of the state’s population voted.

While voter turnout is on an increase and people wait for results, Ballard said, “I hope no matter who wins the presidential election, I hope that we don’t stop the momentum, we don’t stop pushing, we don’t stop challenging our election leaders with change.”