Macalester voters sail through short lines at Tuesday’s polls

Voters+fill+out+their+ballots+at+Macalester+Plymouth+United+Church+on+Election+Day%2C+November+3%2C+2020.+Photo+by+Kori+Suzuki+%2721.

Voters fill out their ballots at Macalester Plymouth United Church on Election Day, November 3, 2020. Photo by Kori Suzuki ’21.

Hannah Catlin, Managing Editor

Macalester Plymouth United Church, across the street from Macalester’s campus, opened its doors at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning for election day, in tandem with polling places across the country. While long lines during early voting and White House misinformation have made major headlines across the country for weeks, Mac Plym was veritably tranquil. 

It’s the in-person polling place for all students living at Macalester and many more living nearby. Usually, a flood of students pass through the church’s doors on a voting day. It was more like a trickle on Tuesday, perhaps reflecting record mail-in voting numbers nationwide. In Ramsey County, more than half of registered voters cast their ballots early. 

On top of that, Director of Public Safety Jim Kurtz reported that only about 700 people are living on campus right now: first-years, international students and a handful of upperclassmen. 

For those who did vote at Macalester Plymouth on Tuesday, low in-person turnout was good news. Riley Church ’23, who was voting in a presidential election for the first time, had expected long lines.

“I was willing to wait as long as it took,” Church said. “There’s lots of voter suppression in the media, especially in hopes to get BIPOC to not vote, they’ll show really long lines of people waiting to vote, especially in bigger cities.

“If there would have been a line to Grand, I would have stayed because my vote counts.”

Other Macalester voters were also pleasantly surprised by the experience. Osamede Egharevba ’22 and Hawa Turay ’22 both registered to vote at Macalester Plymouth day-of, and found both the registration and voting process easy and rewarding.

“It felt empowering.” Egharevba said. On the election as a whole, she said she felt “sort of scared but confident.”

“It was easier than I thought, it’s so much more simple, but I still remember it’s not as simple for others,” Turay said. “It’s weird because we just walked in, but others can’t.”

Indeed, Macalester-Groveland is at the heart of true-blue Ramsey County, which has been a liberal stronghold for decades.

“I feel like we’re kind of in a bubble around here where everyone is just going to vote for Biden, you don’t really see much opposition to that,” Declan Elias ’23 said. 

That said, pro-Trump graffiti appeared across campus on Tuesday morning, covering the Rock, banding a tree on the Great Lawn, sprayed over a Mac Moments banner in front of the Weyerhaeuser Chapel and on a trash can on the corner of Grand Ave. and Macalester St. 

Kurtz said Public Safety was reviewing Macalester’s security cameras but felt it was unlikely they would be able to identify the individual who wrote the graffiti given that they worked under the cover of darkness.

By 8:30 a.m. that morning, Facilities staff had removed the markings from the trash can, the tree and had taken down the banner in front of the chapel. But the Rock, which community members regularly paint, was still bright red, with “Trump 2020” written on the side. 

At the time, Kurtz said he hoped to paint over the Rock too, worrying that such a political statement could “incite people.” 

A group of first years, however, beat them to it. By 10 a.m., Tyler Sanchez ’24, Arushi Nair ’24 and Fiona Mulholland ’24 had re-painted the rock yellow, and written “Be Kind” and “Vote” in blue.

Other than the disruption of the graffiti yesterday morning, things went as predicted at Macalester and in Minnesota. Democratic nominee Joe Biden carried the state handily with a seven point margin — compare that to the 2016 presidential race, when Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won by just 1.5 points. In Ramsey and Hennepin Counties, Biden carried more than 70 percent of the vote.

But the race for the presidency, which some pundits predicted would be a landslide for Biden, remains a nailbiter. Key races in Michigan and Wisconsin are still too close to call, teetering on margins of just a few thousand votes, and huge numbers of early and mail-in votes remain uncounted in Pennsylvania.

“I feel like everyone’s like, ‘Joe’s got this, Joe’s got this,’ [but] that’s what we said about Hillary,” Church said yesterday. “I’m going to watch the proceedings tonight, but it’s just a lot to take in because there’s a lot at stake for me and my identities if Trump wins again.”

 

Kori Suzuki ’21 and Nicholas Velikonja ’21 contributed to the reporting of this story.