Students who are registered to vote in the state of Massachusetts headed to the polls yesterday to cast their ballots in the state’s primary election. Massachusetts was one of 13 states and one territory to hold primaries and caucuses on the day known as “Super Tuesday.”
In Massachusetts, former Secretary of State and New York Senator Hillary Clinton (D) won the Democratic primary over Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) with 51 percent of the vote, and businessman and demagogue Donald Trump (R) won the Republican primary with 49 percent, according to the New York Times.
For this season’s primary election, Jumbo Vote 2016, a newly created coalition of Tufts political and advocacy groups, worked to mobilize as many registered Tufts students to vote as possible, according to Jumbo Vote 2016 Leader Ben Hoffman. Overall, he said he was impressed with the voter turnout.
“We definitely shuttled upwards of 75 students and I saw many more walking to the polls,” Hoffman, a senior, said.
Registered Tufts students voted at several local locations, depending on their places of residence. Precinct locations for on-campus students included the Holy Bible Baptist Church, Tufts Administration Building and Visiting Nurse Assisted & Senior Living Communities in Somerville, and the Gantcher Center in Medford, according to Diane Alexander, president of Tufts for Bernie and an Assistant Features Editor for the Daily.
The Daily spoke with 25 voters who cast their ballots at some of these precinct locations yesterday. Of these students, 12 said they voted for Sanders, 11 for Clinton, one for Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and one for Ohio Governor John Kasich (R). Seven of these voters were seniors, four were juniors, five were sophomores, four were first-years and five were graduate students at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Four of the five Fletcher students said they voted for Clinton. Fletcher student Cassandra Pagan-Araujo explained that she voted for Clinton based on her policies involving the Middle East, which is Pagan-Araujo’s area of study at Fletcher. She explained that she is fearful that Trump will be elected President.
“Trump scares the shit out of me,” she said. “I can’t believe that we have come to that.”
Fletcher student Julian Moore, registered as an independent voter, said he voted for Rubio in an effort to prevent Trump from winning the Massachusetts Republican primary.
Moore explained that he wanted the presidential election to be an interesting competition and said it would be a “joke” if Trump becomes the Republican nominee.
Among Sanders voters who were polled, climate change and income inequality were cited as important issues. Other issues voters referenced included foreign policy, the economy, immigration reform, the prison industrial complex, racism, reproductive rights, healthcare, continuing President Barack Obama’s legacy and shifting the narrative to the left.
Many students who spoke to the Daily spoke about civic duty and a particularly high-stakes election this year as reasons why they were voting in the primaries.
One voter, sophomore Richard Bernard, said he has a unique opportunity as a former Puerto Rican resident to vote in both the primary and general elections now that he is living in Massachusetts. While Puerto Rican voters can vote in the primary, they can not vote in the general election.
Senior Charlotte Clarke said that she has always voted in Massachusetts, where presidential elections are not generally decided, she was excited to finally vote in a competitive election.
However, things did not run smoothly for every Tufts student today. Senior Charlotte Gilliland said she encountered difficulties voting at the Holy Bible Baptist Church. Gilliland, who had voted at the church during the 2014 midterm elections, said she was deleted from the voter registration system because she moved to a Medford address this year. She and senior Eva Batalla-Mann said that one of their friends claimed that his address had automatically been updated in the system, and another friend had been sent to the church from Medford.
Multiple students left precincts unaware that they were in the wrong place and had to vote at another precinct
— Gil Jacobson (@_GilJacobson) March 1, 2016
Earlier today, someone wearing a "Tufts Votes" button told me that some voters were being turned away
— Gil Jacobson (@_GilJacobson) March 1, 2016
Tufts Democrats Vice President Chris Wikler, who drove vans of students to the polls for Jumbo Vote 2016, Tufts CIVIC and Tufts Democrats in an attempt to get as many students to the polls as possible, also mentioned voter problems at the Gantcher Center.
“It’s not a new thing, and this has happened many times before,” Wikler, a sophomore, said. “But this year, some students were denied a provisional ballot…after submitting voter registration forms, [and] did not show up on the rolls.”
Hoffman said that voting in elections is an important form of expression for citizens.
“The best, easiest and sort of most essential way to get the change that people really want to see is through voting,” Hoffman said. “It is your expression of opinion in the most official manner possible and there’s a direct correlation. Who you vote for reflects who represents you.”
Correction: The previous version of this article referred to Richard Bernard as a Puerto Rican citizen, but all Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens. The article has been modified to reflect that Bernard was formerly a resident of Puerto Rico.