Even on a rainy Monday afternoon, a long line of voters wove around the Boardman Road Branch Library, the Dutchess County early voting site Vassar is shuttling students to this week. Voters waited about two hours to cast their ballots. Huddled in raincoats and sweaters, the energy among voters was palpable.
Sydney Boyum ’24 shared that this was the first election he was eligible to vote in since turning 18. “I am fired up.” he said. “I was frustrated last election when I was too young to vote, so I am excited to now.” Boyum expressed his intent to vote for Democratic Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Leanna Tang ’21, also voting in-person on Monday, was also ineligible to vote in 2016 and is excited to vote for the Biden-Harris ticket. Both Boyum and Tang explained that they chose to vote in person instead of by mail because they wanted to confirm their ballots would be counted, as they were hesitant about sending in absentee ballots close to election day.
Dutchess county residents voting on Monday expressed their feelings about the gravity of the presidential election this year. Michelle Brenner, a voter from Poughkeepsie supporting the Biden-Harris ticket, shared, “These are very troubled times. I never thought we’d be where we are today as a country.” While this is not her first time voting, Brenner emphasized the feeling that this presidential election would be the most consequential of her lifetime. “Every election is important,” she said. “Yet as a woman, this one feels particularly important.”
David Loesch, a resident of Stormville casting his ballot for Biden and Harris, said that he did not vote in 2016, but felt he needed to vote this year. “It’s an honor to be able to vote—really a duty,” he shared. “I am not happy with the direction this country has been going in.”
The turnout for the 2020 election has been breaking records nationally. Early voting began on Saturday, Oct. 24 for New Yorkers, and voters are flocking to the polls. Dutchess Board of Elections poll worker Pat Bracone explained that people were coming in nonstop on Monday. “Today is nothing compared to Sunday,” he commented, referring to high turnout the previous day. Director of Community Engaged Learning Lisa Kaul, who is organizing the in-person voting shuttles, explained over email to students that people had been waiting in line for hours to vote over the weekend. After voting, students were picked up by the Vassar shuttle and received an apple cider doughnut and a “Vassar Votes” face mask, a souvenir that encapsulates 2020.