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UA students reflect on the voting process and post-election sentiment

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Michelle Paulene Abeyta poses with a voting sticker after casting her ballot. Courtesy Michelle Paulene Abeyta

In recent weeks, the United States has been consumed by the 2020 presidential election. Current President Donald Trump and President-Elect Joe Biden each took to all forms of media, urging eligible citizens to get out and vote to take part in this landmark election. 

On a national level, this election was historic and monumental, and the same can be said for the sentiment of the University of Arizona campus. On Nov. 3, and in the weeks prior, UA students of all backgrounds took to polling stations, mailboxes and even traveled out of state in order to cast their votes.    

Paulene Abeyta is a third-year law student at the UA and president of the National Native American Law Students Association. Abeyta’s perspective on voting is unique in that she is a member of the Navajo Nation. She traveled 470 miles home to Tohajiilee, New Mexico, to vote in person. 

“I participated in absentee voting during my first year of law school,” Abeyta said. “And I was worried about my ballot the entire time. I called the election office to make sure my ballot was received and counted. I did not like the feeling. I was used to seeing my ballot enter the machine, that was my assurance.”

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Abeyta stressed the urgency of the 2020 national election.

“This election was important, and I knew I had to go back home to vote in person and participate in the process,” Abeyta said. “COVID-19 has impacted my small community. I thought about how I could help get people safely to the polls to vote.”

Abeyta spoke heavily about the efforts she and her community emplaced to encourage everyone to vote.  

“I was calling people on the phone because that is the safest way, reminding them to vote and asking if they needed a ride to vote," Abeyta said. "A lot of them had already gone to vote, so I didn’t have to give anyone a ride, which was great.” 

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In contrast to the experience of Abeyta is that of Ethan Hardy. 

Hardy is a senior in Eller College of Management at the UA who, like Abeyta, is not an Arizona resident. In order to vote, Hardy needed to receive his ballot from his home state of California. 

“My voting process was a lot of fun! This was my first time voting by mail,” Hardy said via email. “My parents had mailed my ballot out to me here in Arizona and so I was able to make my vote and be a part of the election.”

Hardy also spoke about the difference between mail-in and in-person voting. 

“It was a little different than the first time I voted in person, but overall my voting process was very simple," Hardy said via email.

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Madison Tingirides, a senior at the UA as well, was, similar to Hardy and Abayta, pleased with the voting process.  

“I voted in person on Election Day in Tucson at my local voting center for my registered address here," Tingirides said. “The process went pretty smoothly, and I was in and out of the polls within 10 minutes. The officials at the location were very helpful.” 

Tingirides reflected on how it was her first time voting in Arizona and how, as a California native, this was a change. 

“As a lifelong California resident, I was not as familiar with some of the things that were listed on the ballots in Arizona,” Tingirides said. “I tried my best to familiarize myself with all the individuals running for government positions so I could vote for our society's best interests. Otherwise, the process was easy and efficient at my voting location.” 

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UA senior, Soberi Abili, also participated in voting. He shared his experience and added the importance of voting for him, as African-American man. 

“The voting process for me this year as a African-American man was a special experience,” Abili said via email. “I’m glad I was able to do that without any type intimidation or suppression.” 

Abili voted by mail this year, which was the first time he had done that. 

“Usually, I’ll go to the poles physically, but due to the pandemic and rising cases, I decided to mail in my ballot,” Alibi said. 

Voting was highly advertised, urged and promoted this year due to the magnitude of the election, and it's apparent this was felt across campus as well.   


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