By Sammi St. Leger
Last week on Tuesday Nov. 3, lines formed throughout the Champaign-Urbana community as citizens placed votes in local, state and this year, the presidential election.
Evan Waller, sophomore at University of Illinois, was voting for the first time at the YMCA located on 1001 S Wright St in Champaign. He said he was nervous and excited.
“There’s some people who maybe don’t have the opportunity to vote, and so I feel like since I’m able to vote, I should use that to my advantage, and I would encourage anyone else who has the opportunity to vote to exercise their rights,” Waller said.
TJ Blakeman, husband of Champaign County Circuit Clerk Katie Blakeman, spoke on the importance of voting.
“You know voting is the bedrock of our democracy, and it requires people to be active participants in it,” Blakeman said. “It requires people to educate themselves, to learn about the issues, to come out and put the right people in office.”
It’s absolutely critical that people of all ages meet their responsibility and come out and vote every election.”
The 2020 presidential election saw the highest voter turnout since former President William McKinley’s reelection in 1900, with a projected 161 million Americans going to the polls – 66.8 percent of the population. This high turnout extended to the CU area as well, with lines outside polling stations like the YMCA having wait times 45 minutes and over ro place a vote.
“I think the numbers, the turnout numbers have continued to increase across the country and here in Champaign County, and that’s great that means people are participating in the process and really making a difference,” Blakeman said.
While many Americans opted to use mail-in ballots during the pandemic – about 65 million citizens – for Waller, contributing to these numbers meant more in person.
“I’ve seen my parents come out and vote in person all the time, like when I was little and whatnot,” Waller said. “So, I wanted to be able to do the same, rather than do the mail-in ballot. I just wanted to partake in a more traditional experience.”
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