It’s Election Day 2020, and The Miami Hurricane is conducting an informal exit poll of the University of Miami community. We’re taking the pulse of the campus to share your thoughts and experiences about voting in what has been called one of the most contentious and pivotal presidential elections in U.S. political history.
More than ever, voters this year used a variety of options to have their say — from mail-in, drop-off and early voting to the traditional Election Day polling station experience at thousands of election sites throughout the country.
How did you vote? Whom did you vote for and why? Did you encounter any problems, surprises?
Here’s what you had to say.
Public health major backs Biden
Ben Klein, a Massachusetts native, said he hopes to turn Florida blue this election.
Klein, 19, eager to make a change as a first-time voter, cast his ballot early last Monday on Oct. 26 at the Coral Gables Library.
His vote was for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
“Biden actually articulates his plans,” said Klein, a sophomore who is registered as an Independent in Florida. “I haven’t heard a single plan from the other candidate.”
Klein said he believes that Biden will be able to help the economy and society move on from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite being someone who likes to keep an open mind, Klein said he could have done more research on the elections happening outside of the presidential race.
“In this particular election, I voted down the line for Democrats,” Klein said. “I should’ve done more research though.
As a public health major at the University of Miami, Klein said he values policies.
President Donald Trump not releasing a solid health care plan prior to the election is a major concern for Klein. He said a concrete coronavirus plan will turn the country around and get students back into school safely.
Sophomore business student writes in Romney for president
Payton Anderson did not support any of the major political parties’ candidates in this year’s presidential election.
Anderson, a sophomore business analytics major at the University of Miami, said he wrote in Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) as his vote.
“I’m a fairly pragmatic conservative, and I felt Romney has focused on the right things,” Anderson said. “He balanced the budget back in Massachusetts, he expanded healthcare in a way that worked and helped the overall welfare of his people.”
Romney was the Republican presidential candidate in 2012. He lost the race to former President Barack Obama. The former Massachusetts governor has served as a Utah senator since 2019.
Although Anderson, 20, identifies as a conservative, he is a registered Independent in Florida. He mailed his ballot in on Oct. 27.
“I found the process to be fairly seamless,” Anderson said. “All I needed to do was fill out the ballot and post it through the mail.”
Junior voted early for Biden
Two issues were on John Pino’s mind when he voted Saturday for former Vice president Joe Biden.
“I feel like Biden has a better plan to protect us from global warming and climate change, and he is going to protect the minorities more and won’t destroy democracy,” said Pino, a 23-year-old junior psychology major and a registered Democrat.
Pino, who is half Filipino and from Fort Lauderdale, participated in early voting at the Coral Gables Library.
“The fact when he passed the racist policies such as not allowing people from Yemen and Sudan to come to the United States, it showed his clear racism and attempt to keep America white,” Pino said, referring to the executive order President Donald Trump issued in January 2017 after only one week in office.
The ban targeted seven countries with predominant Muslim populations including Yemen and Sudan.
Pino also said the Trump administration weakened the Endangered Species Act, which seeks to protect animals and plants facing extinction.
“He also rolled back so many protections for endangered species,” Pino said.
Pino, a member of the Young and College Democrats at the University of Miami and the Green Committee of Student Government, said he likes to exercise his right to vote and encourages others to vote as well.
“It is important for me to know what the government is doing and represent my voice because I think that is the only way to stop racism or climate change from happening,” Pino said.
Connecticut resident casts absentee ballot for Biden
Brooke Esposito, a first-time voter from Madison, Connecticut, voted for Joe Biden through an absentee ballot last week. The sophomore psychology major said she is registered as an Independent.
“I am not registered with a specific party because I do not consider myself fully one way or the other,” said Esposito. “I’m not even 100 percent a Biden supporter, but because of everything I dislike about Trump, I feel very strongly about voting for Biden to get Trump out of office.”
Esposito said it is important that the president has solid core values.
“I strongly disagree with a lot of Trump’s actions and values,” Esposito said. “Trump’s discrimination against different races, the LGBTQ community, immigrants and women is something I cannot accept for the president of the United States.”
Screenwriting professor voted for environment, people of color, women’s rights
Somar Van Lanh, a part-time screenwriting lecturer at University of Miami, said the 2016 presidential election was her impetus to become a Democrat.
“During the 2016 election, I did not think my vote could make a difference because I was very confident that Hillary was going to win,” Van Lanh said of Hillary Clinton, the then-Democratic presidential nominee.
Although Van Lanh voted for Clinton, she decided to become more involved and aligned with the Democratic Party.
“And after Trump won, I was like, I needed to get involved more into the politics now, because obviously me being a bystander was not going to work,” said Lanh, who was an Independent.
“I just feel Trump does not support and respect my family even though my family has been working in America and even served for this country’s military for many years,” said Lanh, a first-generation Asian American.
“I am 28 years old now and am thinking about the world that I want my kids to live in. If I have a daughter, I want her to live in a world where her health will be protected, and she will have full autonomy of her body,” she said.
Lanh, whose mother is from Thailand and father is from Cambodia, voted for former Vice President Joe Biden by mail a few weeks ago from Jacksonville, Florida. She is not super excited about this voting decision but said she feels it is the right thing to do.
“I want a candidate to care about the environment, people of color, equal rights and women. I don’t believe Trump holds any of those values, and that’s scary,” Lanh said. “When I am thinking about my family’s future, I don’t want them to live in a world where Trump’s values are in priority.”
UM supervisor: No reason to vote for Trump
For University of Miami office supervisor David Batson, the 2020 presidential election is the “craziest” election he has ever seen.
Batson, a registered Independent voter in Florida, attributes the craziness, in part to the pandemic, which allowed voters to cast their ballots without having to show up at polling stations on Election Day.
Batson, 30, took the mail-in option and voted for Joe Biden on Oct. 30.
Batson, who has worked at Mahoney-Pearson Commons for the past two years, said the last four years of Donald Trump’s presidency presented no convincing reason to vote for him.
“There have been a lot of ups and downs with President Trump in office,” Batson said, “and we needed a different leader in office.”
Sophomore business major: Biden not good for job market
Jesse Brenner, a sophomore business analytics major, cast his ballot for President Donald Trump during the early voting period at the Coral Gables Library. Brenner, a first-time voter, was ecstatic about the prospects of voting.
“It’s great to finally experience the freedom of voting in this country,” said Brenner, 19, a registered Republican.
“I have my concerns about whether or not Biden can provide a good job market,” Brenner said. “Considering that I will be looking for a job in the near future, I value the job market as a deciding factor for who I vote for in this election.”
Brenner also took into account how the recent social justice protests affect his vote.
“It is my belief that it is the American people’s responsibility to inspire change in this country, not the president,” Brenner continued. “Neither candidate has a past of positive social justice change, so the responsibility is in the American people.”
First-time voter needed more time to know candidates, issues
Isabella Adelsohn left the Vizcaya polling place on Saturday wishing she had known more about the candidates before she voted.
Adelshon, a junior majoring in architecture, said that with classes, homework and studying, she had almost no time to research what a ballot looked like and how many selections she had to make.
As a first-time voter, she wishes there had been more engagement with candidates for positions other than president.
“As a Latino woman, my ideals resonate closely to Joe Biden. That’s why he got my vote,” said Adelsohn.
While she regrets having to vote blindly for candidates such as state representative, judges and senators, Adelsohn said she is a strong believer in the person she voted for at the top of the ballot.
“Biden should be the president,” Adelsohn said.
Biochemistry and molecular biology graduate student picks Trump
Patricia Moreno’s parents are registered Republicans, and Moreno said her vote in the presidential election keeps the family’s Republican tradition going.
Moreno voted early, on Oct. 21, with her mother at the Shenandoah Branch Library for President Donald Trump.
“I feel that, yes, he is a businessman or he may not be the best president we’ve had, but he sees things from a different point of view compared to people who are fully submerged in laws,” said Moreno, a first-year graduate student at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.
Moreno, 22, who is doing a master’s in marine biology, said she has been impressed with Trump’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I feel that with the short notice that there was with this virus he did a pretty good job trying to compensate people,” Moreno said. “Once Trump took control, I saw a decrease, and that made people less scared of this virus.”
First-time voter casts vote for Biden
Former Vice President and Democratic candidate Joe Biden received a vote from the University of Miami freshman Juliette Leyton, a gender studies major, who is voting in her first presidential election.
“It’s something I’ve been looking forward to since I pre-registered at 16,” said Leyton, who is a registered Florida Democrat. “Joe Biden cares about the future of America.”
Leyton, who voted by mail, said Biden has the best position on issues she cares about, from climate change, abortion rights and immigration, to COVID-19 and gun reform laws.
According to Leyton, Biden promises to reverse President Donald Trump’s policies that separate parents from their children at the U.S.- Mexico border, and to protect “Dreamers” from deportation.
Under current immigration law, “Dreamers,” the undocumented immigrants who often came to the United States as children, have no way to gain legal residency even though they have lived in the U.S. most of their lives.
Dance professor prefers Biden
Having to teach on Election Day and not wanting to be in long lines at her polling station, Carol Kaminsky considered mailing in her ballot, but ended up taking the early voting option.
“I thought I would mail in my ballot,” said Kaminsky, a senior lecturer in dance and the Dance Program Coordinator at the Frost School of Music. “But I couldn’t remember how I signed my name. I wasn’t sure what signature was on file.”
So a few days ago, Kaminsky, 64, voted at the Pinecrest Branch Library for Joe Biden. She cites the increased cases of coronavirus in the United States as one of the reasons for her vote.
Kaminsky also voted to re-elect U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Miami, to Congress.
“She is moderate, she is not super liberal, and I think she has a lot of experience,” Kaminsky said of Shalala, who represents District 27 and is the former president of the University of Miami. “And, of course, her background is public health, and I think that’s what we need right now.”
Theater major praying for a Biden win
Allegra Rosa, a junior musical theater major at the University of Miami, mailed her absentee ballot early last week for Democratic nominee Joe Biden. She made it a point to change her voter registration from New Jersey to Florida because she said her vote holds more weight in the Sunshine State.
“I have faith in our country. I have faith in the morals of the American people that they will pull through for us,” Rosa said.
Growing up as a theater performer, Rosa was surrounded by friends who were a part of the LGBTQ community. Rosa praises Biden for his support of their issues.
Rosa said she is praying for a Biden win because wants to see her LGBTQ friends live a prosperous life and not have their rights stripped away.
Academic coordinator: ‘Trump turned me away from the Republican Party’
London Wood had considered himself an Independent voter until this election.
Wood, coordinator of Academic Engagement in Campus Relations, registered as a Florida Democrat after President Donald Trump “turned me away from the Republican Party completely.”
“His response to Covid-19, his idea of separating kids from their parents at the border, and his constant undermining of science drew me away from him,” said Wood, who voted early for Joe Biden on Oct. 29 at the Coral Gables Library.
Wood, 58, said he agrees with Biden on important issues, including raising taxes for people who make more than $400,000 a year. He said Biden’s ability to understand the inequalities that exist in America for people of color and his desire for everyone to have a fair chance in American society gained the former vice president Wood’s support.
“Biden’s response to the Covid-19 crisis and his commitment to follow science was the icing on the cake for me,” Wood said.
Health care tops UM athletic trainer’s priority issues
If there is one issue that led Abigail (Abby) Meisenheimer to cast her vote for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, this year, it would be health care.
“As a healthcare professional and someone who worked in the hospital to provide care during the pandemic, I was particularly drawn to a candidate who prioritized health care,” said Meisenheimer, University of Miami Women’s Basketball athletic trainer.
Meisenheimer, who mailed in her ballot, said President Donald Trump’s controversial social media profile was disappointing.
“I wonder why we hold our student athletes to a higher standard than the man who is in the highest office.”
Meisenheimer, a registered Independent, said she leans left on social causes.
“My views have always been fairly focused on health care opportunities given my profession but also social issues such as gay marriage after working with a number of individuals whose rights have been limited.”
Broadcast junior: ‘Biden is the change we need’
Fearing possible Covid-19 exposure, Larry Lopez, a junior broadcast journalism major, decided to participate in mail-in voting this year.
Lopez, 20, said he voted early for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Oct. 30 because he could not imagine having someone like President Donald Trump for another four years in the office.
“Biden’s plan’s to create unity, peace and well-being for one another is the change we need,” Lopez said. “Biden is for the people; I cannot trust Donald Trump, not now, not ever.”
Lopez, a Florida Democrat, consistently has maintained a negative opinion of the president.
“My view on Trump has not changed,” Lopez said. “We need Donald Trump to step off and step out of the White House. He is not good for us.”
Biden supporter encourages everyone to vote
Although he was too young to vote in the 2016 presidential election, Zach Friedmann was eager to cast his vote this time around for Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
The Virginia resident, who mailed in his Loudon County ballot, emphasized that voting is a simple process, and everyone who is eligible should do it.
“I was very excited to make a change,” said Friedmann, a junior economics major at the University of Miami.
Over the summer, Friedmann, 20, had a summer internship in Washington, D.C., where he worked for the Florida House, a privately owned education and information center on Capitol Hill.
Friedmann, who hosted seminars and worked on an augmented reality app that connects Florida to historical landmarks in Washington, D.C., got a glimpse of how the nation’s capital works, but the experience did not influence how he would vote, said Friedmann, a Democrat and Biden supporter.
“I really feel like he can unify our already divided nation,” Friedmann said. “His policies on climate change and health care speak more to me than Trump’s.”
Junior finance major applauds Trump’s tax policy
Matt DiRico, a junior finance major, voted for President Donald Trump as a first-time voter on Oct. 19 at the Winter Garden Library in Orange County, Florida.
DiRico, 21, said he believes Trump is ideal to lead the country because of his tax policy.
“By lowering corporate taxes, it incentivizes more companies to stay in the United States,” said DiRico, “making us more competitive.”
Lowering taxes give people the opportunity to invest their money, raising their capital and elevating their financial state, said DiRico, a Republican.
“Increased standard deductions allow families to decrease tax liabilities, giving them the opportunity to save more money,” said DiRico.
ROTC cadet: ‘I would have voted for a better Democrat’
A full-time University of Miami student athlete and ROTC cadet, Morgan Assmusen, is an Independent Illinois voter who decided that her vote would go to President Donald Trump.
“Honestly, I voted for Trump because I dislike the other candidate more,” Assmusen said, referring to Joe Biden. “If they picked a better Democrat, I would have voted for him in a second.”
Biden’s positions are inconsistent, said Assmusen, a senior with a triple major in criminology, marine science and meteorology and a member of UM’s soccer team.
“They seem to be disorganized, and they change way too much,” said Assmusen, who mailed her Illinois ballot on Oct. 20.
Assmusen, 21, said she agrees with the way Trump has handled taxes and the economy as a whole. She also agrees with the measures he has taken to reduce and handle the coronavirus
– Morgan Ledenko
First-time freshman voter: ‘My voice finally has impact’
Beck Lewis, 18, could not wait to vote in this first election. The freshman business major at the University of Miami sent in his Connecticut absentee ballot from school on Oct. 21.
“I feel like my voice finally has an impact,” Lewis said. “This is a really important election, not just for the next four years, but for the rest of our lives.”
Lewis, a Democrat, said he voted for all Democrats on the ballot, including presidential candidate Joe Biden.
“I agree with his policies,” Lewis said. “They line up much better with my ethical and moral views like stricter gun laws and the COVID-19 situation. I believe Trump has handled the current pandemic poorly.”
Lewis said he found the absentee system quick and easy.
“I was a little scared of receiving and sending my ballot through the mail just because of how many things could go wrong,” he said. “But everything went smoothly, and I’m glad I was able to vote without having to travel all the way home.”
Sophomore criminology major votes for strong economy
Brittany Nahas, a sophomore studying criminology, voted for President Donald Trump through an absentee ballot early last week. The first-time voter from Port Washington, New York, is a registered Republican.
“I picked that candidate because I feel he is the best fit for our country,” said Nahas. “I believe he did an outstanding job in his first four years, especially with what he did for our economy, and I think we as a country could really benefit from that right now.”
Nahas said she believes Trump has strengths that are integral to being a strong president that presidential nominee Joe Biden does not have.
“Trump’s foreign policies are exceptional, which is extremely important when running a country,” said Nahas. “I really don’t believe Biden is cut out to be president based on his past policies and the way he plans to increase taxes.”
Nahas has supported Trump for multiple years, even previous to his election in 2016.
“I was not old enough to vote in the 2016 election, but I would have voted for Trump if I could,” said Nahas. “My views haven’t changed.”
New Jersey Independent: ‘More faith in Biden’
AJ Borinsky, a sports administration major, cast his New Jersey absentee ballot for Joe Biden a few weeks ago.
“It feels good to vote,” Borinsky said. “It’s great to live in a country where we can have an impact on who our leader is.”
Borinsky is an Independent who made his decision based on personal preference.
“I just think Biden is the better of the two candidates,” Borinsky claimed. “I don’t follow politics that much outside of election years, but from what I have gathered, I have more faith in Joe Biden.”
Borinsky, 19, highlights the importance of leadership with social justice issues.
“I don’t believe President Trump downplays the issue of racism in our country,” Borinsky said. “Our leaders have the ability to change the country, and I think Biden can help us take positive steps forward.”