Millennial Voters Turn Out Big in Philadelphia

Presidential Election 2016

Photo by Courtney Davis, HUNS:  Residents and college students waited up to three hours to vote at 18 sites at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.  Poll workers said the turnout was extremely heaviy, like when President Obama ran in 2008.  

PHILADELPHIA – If you want to find out what millennials are doing this election, go to the University of Pennsylvania and its more than 24,000 students.   The university’s 18 polling places were overwhelmed with voters, election officials said.  In some cases, the wait to vote was three hours, they said.

By the late afternoon, voters at the library at 40th and Walnut streets had already cast about 450 ballots cast, more than twice the number for the same time in the last presidential election, poll workers said.

Mary Goldman, a Democratic committeeperson working at the 40th Street polling location, said this election’s turnout was like President Barack Obama’s first election. Only halfway through the day, the location ran out of the “I voted today” stickers it gives to voters, Goldman said.

A few blocks down, on South 45th Street, Brian M. Villa, first vice-president of the 27th Ward Democrats, said the line at his polling location was unusually long.

“The line went to the next intersection,” Villa said. “It was about 300-400 feet out the door.  The college population is here out in force, right now. It looks like the turnout will be 225 percent above traditional numbers,” he said.

Villa agreed with Goldman that the millennial turnout this presidential election is comparable to Obama’s first election.

Photo by Courtney Davis, HUNS:  Poll workers said there were so many voters
they ran out of "I Voted" stickers halfway through the day.

“At three in the afternoon, with four hours of polling to go, the numbers are going to match 2008,” he said.

Throughout the presidential election, polls among the young voters showed weak support for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The voters were not necessarily in support of Republican nominee Donald Trump, but many were very excited about the former secretary of state.

The millennials were a force in the primary’s, supporting Bernie Sanders. Gemmika Champion, a student at Drexel University said Sanders’ loss for the democratic nominee did discourage some of her friends.

“I know people who don’t want to vote because they think the political system is corrupt or Hillary doesn’t represent any more positive values than Trump, but I disagree with them,” Champion said.

She also said as an African-American woman, it is her civic duty to cast a ballot in every election.

“Anyone who doesn’t appreciate their right to vote, especially as an African American person, come on,” she said. “People spent years fighting for the ability to vote. In many countries, it isn’t even an option.”

Champion and her friend Monica Zack are both registered Democrats who are confident Hillary Clinton will win Pennsylvania.

Champion said she felt less stress once her ballot has been cast, because at that point she had done all that she could do.

“I’ve been feeling extreme anxiety about this election,” she said. “Today I had an overwhelming sense of calm after I voted.”