The stakes were high as voters anxiously awaited the results of the 2020 presidential race between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden. This election had the highest voter turnout ever recorded, with young people and first-time voters making up a significant part of that. Joe Biden also received more votes than any other presidential candidate in history. On Tuesday, Nov. 3, five UCR students spoke to The Highlander about their experience voting in their first presidential election along with their feelings and anticipations on Election Day.

Courtesy of Joe Biden via Flickr under CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

Julian Brambila, Fontana, CA

For Julian Brambila, the process of voting in San Bernardino County was simple. He dropped off his ballot and patiently waited to receive the notification that his vote had been counted. Brambila stated that a vote for Biden and Kamala Harris was never a question. “I voted for Bernie as I’m sure a lot of young people did too. It was just a matter of why,” he stated. While Biden may not have been his first choice, he explained, “There’s a lot of potential to push him even more left on so many policy issues, and a lot of progress can be made.” 

According to Brambila, a vote for Biden is a matter of life and death for many people, in comparison to the hatred spewed by Trump during his presidency. His vote encompassed underserved communities that may not have the right, access or privilege to vote. “It’s important to do the bare minimum by casting your ballot,” he said.

Luna Sebastian, Los Angeles, CA

Like many, Luna Sebastian woke up anxious and afraid of the events she anticipated to unfold on Election Day. Living in Los Angeles, she noticed local businesses boarding up their windows in preparation. Although only one unlawful gathering was reported in Los Angeles that night, Sebastian says it was enough to keep her up the night before. 

During her first presidential election as an eligible voter, Sebastian said that she was excited to cast her ballot in honor of herself, her family and her community. To vote for Biden was to vote for a candidate who believes in climate change, racial injustice and women’s rights, she stated. “Many people don’t think voting matters, but the reasons are right there,” stated Sebastian. 

Alicia Larson, Temecula, CA

Early voting was also the best option for Alicia Larson, who says the community in Temecula has a very large Republican population. The Trump supporters in the area, she said, are the type to induce voter intimidation at the polls, and she wanted to avoid that at all costs. 

Larson stated that she woke up on Election Day feeling dreadful and scared of how people may react to the results. Larsen believes a vote for Biden is the only way to repair the damage done by the President during his term. “[Trump] is extremely racist, and I just don’t understand why people still continue to support him,” stated Larsen. 

As an intern for the California Democratic Party, Larsen spent her first presidential campaign as an eligible voter phonebanking to voters in swing states to educate them on the importance of voting. Larsen stressed the importance of utilizing one’s right to vote if they have the privilege to, stating, “I vote for the people within my community and for equality for everyone.”

Lindy Chen, Diamond Bar, CA

Lindy Chen stated that Biden was definitely not her first choice either, but was clearly the best choice during this election. Chen says climate change is an issue that was very important to her, and she appreciated Biden’s progressive tax plan. 

Chen, who is originally from Alhambra, CA, said that she noticed the difference in the political climate of the two cities as soon as she moved as a freshman in high school. Due to the economic shift in class and income, she has noticed a surge of right-leaning individuals in her community. 

Chen stated that voting does not end at just picking a president and stressed the importance of researching and voting for candidates in our local offices.

Emily Thomas, Riverside, CA

Emily Thomas spent her first presidential election as an eligible voter working at the polls a few days before Election Day. Her experience went smoothly, aside from a few technical difficulties at her polling location at Franklin Elementary School in Corona. Though lines were long, Thomas said she noticed that some were choosing to wait due to distrust in the drop-off ballot process.

“I vote because it’s a right and a privilege, and it’s a service to others,” stated Thomas, “it’s as simple as that.” Voting for Biden and Harris means voting for new faces, change and accountability, she stated. Thomas added that her vote also means supporting the folks that Biden might put in his cabinet, individuals who will tackle climate change, support education and ultimately uplift the UC system.