General elections: Residents travel to polls in high spirits

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D.C. resident shares her "I Voted" sticker at the Wesley Methodist Church. Photo courtesy of Meghan Sorensen.

By: Meghan Sorensen

On Tuesday, anxiety and excitement filled the air due to midterm elections and D.C.’s general election. At local polling locations, there was a constant flow of voters who were passionate about participating in the democratic process. Lotte Lent, D.C. resident, left the polling booth yelling, “Yay! Democracy!”

Nationwide, there was a prominent feeling that voting in this election was a national obligation and a duty as a citizen. “I love voting because I’m an American citizen and I believe that our pleasure and our duty is to vote,” said D.C. resident, Elizabeth Kennington.

Elizabeth Kennington enthusiastically came out to vote at the Wesley Methodist Church. Photo courtesy of Meghan Sorensen

Elected Council Chairman Phil Mendelson had his own theory about why residents came out in droves in midst of the rainy election day weather.

“I think that democratic and independent voters are angry with where this country is going, and we’re seeing that in the district with unusually heavy turnout,” Mendelson said.

“D.C. voters came out to vote because it’s the only way they have to express how angry they are about the rhetoric, the divisiveness, the intolerance, the evil, really the antithesis of the values that are important to America.”

In the public sphere, celebrities used social media to encourage voting during the midterm election. Singer Taylor Swift’s message to her fans led to a voter registration influx of over 200,000, with approximately half ranging from ages 18 to 29.

Celebrities such as Ryan Reynolds, Reese Witherspoon, and many others encouraged their fans to head to the polls. This, along with other factors, seemed to have an effect given that early voting was also incredibly popular within D.C. WTOP reported that “unofficially, over 52,000 ballots were cast during early voting.”

Many candidates visited polling stations to gather last minute support and votes. Dora Currea, who ran for Board of Education for Ward 3 and lost to Ruth Wattenberg, visited the Wesley Methodist Church to encourage voters to support her.

“I would like to make sure, after about four years, that we have a strategic vision for the entire D.C. education system,” Currea said energetically. “One where there is more people opportunity in terms of great schools all over all of the wards.”

Dora Currea who ran for the Board of Education for Ward Three. Photo courtesy of Meghan Sorensen.

After voting, election viewing parties also broke out throughout the city. Supporters rallied around their candidates at specialized events. The air was electric. During an event held for D.C.’s Attorney General Karl Racine and Mendelson, Racine said he “would hope that you see not only senior citizens voting.”

“That’s where, generally speaking, you always see high turnout. But hopefully we’ll get some of the millennials also stepping up and being more active in their new home cities.”