MU students headed to polls to vote in 2020 presidential election

The Boone County Government Center and Mizzou Arena served as central polling places in Boone County, which experienced high voter turnout.

Amid a pandemic and a fiercely debated presidential election, many MU students exercised their right to vote at polling places around Columbia and the MU campus on Nov. 3.

At the end of election night, Boone County’s unofficial results report showed 91,709 votes had been cast with all precincts reporting for a total voter turnout of 70%. As of Oct. 31, the Boone County Clerk’s Office had received 26,498 absentee ballots, in comparison to only 7,412 that were returned in 2016.

One central polling place, the Mizzou Arena, had a steady flow of voters throughout the morning of Nov. 3 with visits from student and community members alike. Close to 40 people waited in line for their turn to vote around noon on Tuesday.

The polling site featured several signs from the university promoting social distancing measures as well as blue tape arrows on the ground to direct the flow of voters.

The Boone County Clerk’s Office said on its website that all of the county’s polling places would implement safety measures, such as masks, plexiglass shields and hand sanitizer.

Sophomores Gracie Gates and Allison Brown were excited to vote at Mizzou Arena in their first presidential election. Both said their presidential pick was heavily influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement, among several other issues.

Despite its outcome, Brown felt the election would be momentous.

“This will definitely be in the history books,” Brown said.

Junior Cate Bender, who also voted at the Mizzou Arena, decided to cast her first-ever vote for Donald Trump, saying her views on important issues like abortion and climate change aligned most with his platform.

“It was fun to see everybody out here voting,” Bender said.

In addition to the Mizzou Arena, the Boone County Government Center also served as a central polling place for Boone County voters, regardless of address. Other locations that were assigned based on residents’ addresses included the Parks and Recreation Armory, the Columbia Public Library and the First Presbyterian Church, which had a significant number of voters but was slightly less crowded than central polling places like the Mizzou Arena.

Though Joe Biden won Boone County and was declared the winner of the presidential election as of Saturday, some students felt uncertain about the response to the election outcome. With such a close and competitive race between the two candidates, some MU students who voted in the election expressed concerns about the aftermath of the results.

Gates echoed an opinion shared by many other citizens, saying that no matter who wins the election, she thinks “there’s going to be a lot of backlash either way.”

Edited by Joy Mazur | jmazur@themaneater.com

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