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Credit: Sharon Lee

Some Penn students and graduates traveled up to 100 miles to cast their votes on Election Day. 

Students who are not currently living on campus trekked from other states to cast their votes in Pennsylvania — one of the key battleground states that could determine the outcome of the election. Others, who are currently living near campus, headed home to vote in-person at the polling location near their homes.

College sophomore Rebecca Hennessy, who hails from New Jersey, drove to Philadelphia on Monday to return her mail-in ballot, which arrived at her home on Oct. 31. To ensure that her ballot is received before the Nov. 6 deadline, Hennessy delivered her ballot at a drive-by drop off location at Lincoln Financial Field where she was greeted by the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders and mascot Swoop who cheered on voters as they dropped off their ballots.

“Pennsylvania is crucial in this election,” Hennessy said. “It’s a swing state and my vote would mean a lot more in Pennsylvania as opposed to New Jersey, because we’re already a blue state.”

She decided to cast her vote for former Vice President Joe Biden, calling it an “obvious choice.” For Hennessey, the most important issues dictating her decision this election are the government's lackluster response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the preservation of LGBTQ and women’s rights, and immigration.

“I can’t stand Donald Trump,” Hennessy said. “Putting politics aside, he’s racist, he’s sexist, he only cares about himself and his money.”

2020 Wharton graduate Andrew Howard, who is living in New York City for the time being, also traveled to Philadelphia to cast his vote for Biden. 

Howard, who has been voting at Houston Hall since he lived in the Quad as a first-year student at Penn, said there was no line when he cast his vote. He is still registered to vote in Philadelphia, and like Hennessy, chose to vote in Pennsylvania instead of his residing state due to Pennsylvania's potential to determine the outcome of the election.

“[Biden] aligns closely with the policies that I like,” Howard said. “We’ve been living in a nightmare for the last four years, and more than anything it’s just a return to decency.”

While students flocked to Philadelphia to cast their ballots in a more crucial swing state, some students living off campus in Philadelphia returned home to vote in their respective Pennsylvania counties.

Wharton sophomore Bryce Nabulsi, who is currently living at 40th and Baltimore streets, went home to vote in Newtown Square, Pa., in Delaware County Tuesday morning. Nabulsi, who voted for the first time today, decided to register to vote at her home address, because she only lives about 30 minutes from campus.

After waiting in line for about an hour and a half, estimating at least 100 other people in line, Nabulsi cast her ballot for Biden around 11 a.m. Nabulsi described her vote for Biden as a rejection of the last four years under the Trump administration.

“Although I might not agree with Biden on everything or think that he’s the perfect candidate, I voted for him, because I disagree with Trump,” Nabulsi said.

Nabulsi also cited concerns about unrest in Philadelphia on Tuesday night as another reason why she went home. The Pennsylvania National Guard arrived in Philadelphia Friday morning following protests prompted by the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man, last week. The Guard is expected to stay in Philadelphia through Election Day to ensure order in the city.

“Especially with a bunch of shops boarding up their windows, I feel like everyone is kind of preparing for something to happen,” Nabulsi said. “It just made me kind of nervous.”

Similarly, College sophomore Sienna Robinson, who is currently living at 30th and Chestnut streets, also went home Tuesday to vote for Biden in Northwest Philadelphia. Robinson said she decided to go home to avoid any problems with voting by mail, like forgetting to mail her ballot in on time.

She added that one of the most important issues to her is the government's COVID-19 response, citing Trump’s tendency to discredit health experts and spread misinformation. During a campaign rally in Florida on Sunday, Trump suggested that he might fire the country's leading expert on infectious diseases, Anthony Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, after the election.

“I think [Biden] would probably come at it from more of a standpoint of what the health experts are saying, not his own personal opinion on what is best for the country,” Robinson said.

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