Claremont students enthusiastic about voting, participating in midterm election

Students packed Hahn Hall at Pomona College Tuesday night to watch the election results roll in. (Sandra Sublette • The Student Life)

This midterm season, people across the country took to the polls to make their voices heard. At the Claremont Colleges, it was no different.

Following on-campus voting at Edmunds Ballroom, various politics groups, like the 5C Democrats, Claremont Government Society, and Scripps Politics Association, held election watch parties. Claremont McKenna College also hosted a panel at the Athenaeum featuring students, professors, and politics experts who analyzed midterm election results in real time.

Emma Finn CM ’21 attended the 5C Democrats and Claremont Government Society watch party in Beckett Hall at CMC. She said the push for young people to vote changed the landscape of the 2018 midterm elections from 2016.

“I’ve never seen that kind of push before to mobilize young people,” Finn said. “Even though I’m still frustrated that people couldn’t get it together for the 2016 election, I’m really excited that a lot of people came out this year and there was just a massive push to go to the polls.”

Finn was particularly interested in 22-year-old Will Haskell’s run for state senator in Connecticut’s 26th district. Haskell won the seat, defeating a 22-year incumbent and turning the district blue for the first time since 1973.

A 5C student checks the close race for one of the Texas Senate seats Tuesday night. (Sandra Sublette • The Student Life)

“Young people turning out mattered,” she said. “Will Haskell captivated young and old people alike, and they showed up to the polls.”

Politics Department Student Liaison Lucas Carmel PO ’19 helped host a watch party in Hahn Hall at Pomona College.

“To me, the biggest thing is that this election represents a definite moment for youth engagement,” Carmel said. “By most external and internal indications it seems that Pomona students, whether because of Trump or because of the competitiveness of this election, are genuinely really interested in a way I’ve never seen before.”

Pomona Politics Department Chair Susan McWilliams, who also attended Pomona’s watch party, said the energy surrounding this election season on campus rivals the high levels of excitement she saw in 2008.

“I’m happy to see so many students engaged in, with no exaggeration, the attempt to preserve the republic which you can’t do — whether you’re democrat or republican or other — without voting and without paying attention and caring about things,” she said.

Scripps Politics Association executive board member Matilda Msall SC ’19 organized a midterm watch party at Susan Miller Dorsey Hall to create a space for Scripps College students to come together to “create a greater community around politics.”

Students cheer as CNN calls the House for the Democrats at the Scripps College watch party in Dorsey lounge May 6. (Elinor Aspegren • The Student Life)

Sarah Nunez-Lafontaine SC ’22 attended the event and said she was excited to vote because “it felt like it actually mattered.”

“I’ve seen my state be completely overrun by someone who I don’t believe in, and who has completely hurt [Texas],” she said. “When I heard that [Rep.] Beto [O’Rourke] was running, I just started listening to him and finding out what he was all about — it wasn’t just because he was a democrat, it was because he believes in a more diverse community, he believes in healthcare, and he believes in actually helping people.”

O’Rourke narrowly lost the senate seat to incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz.

Maggie Lind SC ’22, who also went to the Scripps watch party, echoed Nunez-Lafontaine, saying she was “upset with the government, to say the least.”

“I think [voting] is a very essential part of our democratic process, and it just scares me how few people of our age typically vote,” Lind said. “We have the potential to make the most change, and I knew from the very beginning that I was going to be an active voter.”

Samuel Breslow contributed reporting.

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