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Credit: Jesse Zhang

After Philadelphia's polling places closed at 8 p.m. this evening, leaders of Penn's political groups anxiously tuned in to watch the preliminary election results. 

The Daily Pennsylvanian spoke to leaders of some of Penn’s major political groups – Penn Democrats, College Republicans, Penn Leads the Vote, and Penn Justice Democrats – regarding how members of each group are preparing to watch election results trickle in.

It is still too early to predict the winner of the election, and crucial swing states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin could viably go to either candidate. Biden also has a solid lead in Arizona, while Texas is now favoring Trump. 

Penn Dems Secretary and Wharton sophomore Luis Ayala Gutierrez said that he’s been following election results through social media outlets like CNN for the past couple of hours in Seattle, Washington with his girlfriend and her family.

Gutierrez said that, as a DACA recipient originally from Mexico, he is not able to vote in this election. While he admits he is a bit nervous, he remains “very optimistic” that Biden will be victorious. Trump has previously tried to overturn DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants from deportation, but the Supreme Court has upheld the program. 

Gutierrez feels this election represents a “turning point” in American history. 

“I've always known that politics directly affects people's lives, but I think it's fair to say that [regarding] the next president, for a lot of people following the election, [it] really doesn't matter who it is. But for people like myself, you know, my parents were immigrants, the next president really does have an effect on our lives, and I’m so much more aware of it now,” Gutierrez said. “This election is huge.” 

College Republicans Communications Director and College sophomore Harrison Selznick said that so far, College Republicans as a whole is very excited about the increase in turnout that has been reported in this election. Though Selznick doesn’t believe the results will be known within the next few hours, he is hopeful Trump will win. 

Amira Chowdhury, College junior and founding member of Penn Justice Democrats, said that she believes some of the key focuses tonight will be states such as Arizona, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Nevada, Florida, and Texas. 

Because of her initial role as one of the founders of Penn for Bernie, which eventually became Penn Justice Democrats, and her campaign work for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chowdhury said she felt really disillusioned when casting her vote for Biden in this election.

“Given that my commitment to the progressive wing runs so deep, voting for Joe Biden today was a heartbreaking, sickening experience for me because I know what the implications of him getting into office are. It will not do anything for working families like mine.”

As she looks towards election results, Chowdhury said she believes this election to be one of “the most winnable elections in modern American history” for Joe Biden.

“I mean, Hillary was not nearly as favorable as Biden is, Hillary was not able to benefit from the failure of handling the COVID-19 crisis of the Trump administration. Hillary did not have four years of anti-Trump mainstream media campaigning that Biden has,” Chowdhury explained. “So if things really go the way they did in 2016 again, I think it will be more telling of the Democratic Party itself, more so than anything else.”

This is the first presidential election that Pennsylvania voters were able to vote via mail-in ballots without needing an excuse for doing so, according to CBS News. Widespread fear regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, and the potential spread of the virus at polling locations, made mail-in ballots a popular option for voters in the state's June primary election. 

Penn Leads The Vote Co-Director and College junior Harrison Feinman said that, given this election is the first of its kind in Pennsylvania in regard to the use of mail-in ballots, students should expect to wait days to definitively know the outcome of the presidential election. 

“We're going to see tremendous amounts of mail-in ballots, and it's going to take a few days to count. It really depends on the state because all the state laws are different, but in Pennsylvania specifically, I think students should be really about about assuming the results you see tonight are the actual results. In Philadelphia, for sure, they're not going to be giving us the final numbers tonight or probably even tomorrow,” Feinman said. 

“I think we’re probably going to be one of the last states to report the data,” Feinman predicted. “So, hopefully this election shows lawmakers, as we’re tuning in to election results, the general importance of updating some of these laws that prevent counties from starting to count the ballots earlier, and just making other forms of voting more accessible as well.”