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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Students celebrate election results

    Students from ASUA crowd around the TVs at Gentle Bens Bar on North University Boulevard as the 2008 Presidential Election results come in.
    Students from ASUA crowd around the TVs at Gentle Ben’s Bar on North University Boulevard as the 2008 Presidential Election results come in.

    The atmosphere at Gentle Ben’s Tuesday night was one of high nerves and buzzing excitement.

    Students talked to each other as they anxiously awaited election results. And with each state’s projected results, the crowd erupted in cheers.

    After Virginia’s results was announced, students began to shed their nerves and show more excitement. They then counted down to the unveiling as if counting down for a new year: Sen. Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States of America.

    The reaction in the bar could only be likened to victory. Students started shrieking, waving their arms in the air, cheering, clapping, pointing, yelling and jumping up and down.

    A pair of friends started goofily dancing together while other people ran around hugging each other.

    Cheers of “”O-BA-MA”” drowned out any conversations. Someone even led part of the crowd in singing, “”Bear Down, Obama.””

    “”I, like, can’t even breathe right now,”” said Zoe Lesser, a sociology sophomore.

    Undeclared sophomore Jimmy MacKenzie said he was enjoying the party.

    “”I get to watch the election with my friends, get some food and have some fun,”” MacKenzie said.

    On the second floor of Gentle Ben’s, the election party was mostly comprised of Associated Students of the University of Arizona and UAVotes 2008 members.

    Co-chair of the Arizona Student Vote Coalition and journalism sophomore Elma Delic said she thought the youth vote would “”break history.”” She said she thought a high youth vote would “”set a precedent for future elections,”” that “”youth will see what an impact they have.””

    Arizona Students Association board chair and political science senior Michael Slugocki was also excited about the youth vote. He said the “”youth have really stepped up to the plate,”” saying that politicians will listen to a strong voice.

    Lesser said walking into Gentle Ben’s felt like she was walking into a surprise party. Even after Obama was announced as the next president, Lesser said she was still “”freaking out”” because it was early.

    She explained that what was being broadcasted were only projected, that not one state had 100 percent of its precincts reporting.

    A few people kept calm during the celebrations.

    One of them, economics junior Garrett Widner, said, “”Whoever got it would have done a fairly good job.””

    Despite not being strongly devoted to either candidate, Widner said it was important to vote. He said he woke up, got dressed, ate breakfast and then voted.

    Pre-business freshman E.J. Richardson spent months trying to get students to feel the same way. A volunteer with UAVotes 2008, Richardson said he joined the day before school started. Since then, he said he has participated in voter registration drives, phone banks, mass text messaging and even drove two people to the polls on Tuesday.

    Richardson said he wanted to “”make sure students have their voices heard.””

    Slugocki said UAVotes 2008 was able to register about 4,400 new voters. Although final results have yet to be announced, Slugocki said that he thought the youth vote came out in “”record numbers.””

    Expressing pride in his friends and fellow students, MacKenzie said it was “”nice to see everyone’s hardworking efforts be rewarded.””

    After her efforts this semester, Delic wants to make sure such progress is possible in the future. She said she will be participating in a statewide debriefing with other Arizona Student Vote Coalition members. One of her goals is to create a handbook for future leaders and volunteers to use, Delic said.

    While UAVotes 2008 and other organizations worked to get out the vote, there was an obstacle for student voters. Richardson said it was “”disheartening”” that students who were unaware of identification requirements couldn’t vote, even though they had just registered.

    In an effort to prevent such disappointment, Delic said UAVotes 2008 provided education on the ID requirements and early voting on campus. Still, “”there’s only so much you can do,”” she said.

    The crowd at Gentle Ben’s seemed beyond worrying about ID requirements. With each incoming result, many people cheered for the presidential election as if they were at the Super Bowl.

    Lesser said her family is politically active, so she has always been interested in politics. Her father, a lawyer, was available to help out at the polls at 5 a.m. Tuesday, while her mother worked phone banks to tell people where precincts were.

    But Lesser said that the closer the election got, the more involved she became. This led up to her feeling her “”heart pounding,”” she said, explaining that “”our entire country is a mess.””

    Optimistic after Obama’s win, Lesser said she thinks a “”change in government”” can “”turn stuff around.”” Regarding Sen. John McCain, Lesser said that him getting elected “”could be the worst thing ever.””

    Widner said he supported Obama because a McCain presidency would bring predictability and a lack of change to the country. With Obama, “”there is a chance that things could be different,”” he said.

    The crowd at Gentle Ben’s agreed with Lesser and Widner. With glasses clinking and hips checking, the Obama victory was celebrated all around.

    After saying that the U.S. needs “”severe change,”” Lesser said Obama becoming president is the “”best thing that could happen for our country.””

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