The Collegian
Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Virginians' choice of unfavorable candidates leaves some disenchanted

Although Democrat Terry McAuliffe won the Virginia gubernatorial election, Democrat Ralph Northam won the lieutenant governor race and Republican Mark Obenshain will be the next attorney general, disillusionment was the big winner on Tuesday. Sorry: This isn't Nevada.

Nevada is the only state that still has a "none of the above" option on the ballot. The "none" option began in Nevada in 1976. It exists as a symbolic expression of, "I don't support any candidate, and I want it to be reflected in the results," said Peter CampoBasso, a senior at University of Richmond and political organizer at the Center for Civic Engagement.

The Supreme Court upheld the existence of the "none" option on the ballot this summer, which Mitt Romney supporters attacked as unconstitutional during the last presidential election. The gubernatorial election Tuesday left many Virginians feeling caught in the middle. Maybe Virginia should take a hint from the Silver State.

According to The Washington Post: "Across the commonwealth, voters spent the day settling a race defined by ferocious attacks. In interviews, many Virginians described their votes as more an expression of disgust for the opponent than support for either McAuliffe or Cuccinelli."

CampoBasso said he had voted for McAuliffe.

"It was not an excited vote," he said. "I was not thrilled about the choices, but I felt like he was the lesser of ... three evils."

CampoBasso also said he wanted to see political coverage take a different direction by not focusing on polls and how many people supported the candidates. Instead, he would like to see more political coverage and campaigning that educates voters about issues rather than focusing on numbers, he said.

"I want to actually hear more than a 10- or 30-second quote of someone," he said. "I think that they actually need to get a little more in-depth on the issues. [Politicians] are not giving you any information about the long-term impacts... I think you have to do a lot of outside research yourself, and I think most people are not willing to do that."

Greg Zahora, a junior, said he had done a lot of his own research to figure out which candidate he would vote for. He had trouble finding information about economic policies and financial plans during the campaign. Candidates had to have strong economic policies to focus on changing social issues, he said.

"You see a lot on social justice issues," Zahora said, "but I really had to dig deep to find [candidates'] plans for the economy, and even with my digging, it was hard to find reliable sources or sources that could be checked. I wish there was more focus on that."

The country's $17 trillion debt and poor economic conditions worry Zahora, he said. Overall, Zahora seemed to agree with the general feeling of disillusionment experienced by Virginia's voters on Tuesday: "I'm fairly disenfranchised with our government right now, and I don't see much change happening, honestly.

"So I feel like whoever we vote for, nothing is really going to change at all. Even if people start out in [politics] for the right reasons, they are soon turned to 'How can I stay in office,' so I do not think a lot will change."

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Nonetheless, it is important for Richmond students to vote in Virginia, said Shelby Longland, a recent graduate of the university who is now employed by the CCE to help with events and communications. As residents of Virginia, the politics affect everyone, whether or not they realize it, she said.

Longland was at the CCE election party in the Alice Haynes room in Tyler Haynes Commons Tuesday night. The event gave students the opportunity to watch the election results together. There were approximately 15 to 20 students in attendance.

"I would like to see more student involvement," Longland said. "I hope that other students who come here to Richmond realize that the University of Richmond isn't their only home, but also the city of Richmond and the state of Virginia, and I want them to feel invested in their community. Political power, such as voting, is a great way to show that."

After all, just minutes after the final results of the day's elections were released, CNN was already covering the possibility of New Jersey's Chris Christie running for president in 2016.

Contact staff writer Marina Askari at marina.askari@richmond.edu

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