They’re a group of millennial voters affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and, little did they know, but their state – and county – were about to become the epicenter of the contentious and consequential 2016 presidential election.
In the end, Democrat Hillary Clinton lost Wisconsin to Republican Donald Trump, a victory that helped Trump become the president-elect. Clinton failed to deliver the numbers she needed from the Obama coalition in places like Milwaukee County, and Trump flipped some of the state’s rural areas on its western ridge. The vote was narrow.
These voters stopped to talk to a group of UWM journalism students on Election Day. Randomly selected by the student journalists, the millennials mostly were voting for Clinton. That underscores Clinton’s central challenge, and one she didn’t fully deliver. She needed to get more voters in this age group out to the polls. A few voters made other choices; one student voted for Jill Stein, one for Evan McMullin, and one for Trump. He’s planning a career in law enforcement.
Many students were not thrilled with any of the choices.
“Neither candidate is fit to be president,” student Lizzy Sitkin, 20, said. “But I hope that whomever does win, proves everyone wrong.”
A large portion of the students were former Bernie Sanders’ voters. They switched to Clinton because they didn’t like Trump’s rhetoric, especially toward minorities, as well as other issues.
Here’s what they said:
Trump Speaks ‘Gibberish’ & This Student Wants Free Education
By Angeline Bergman
Zemon Hayes, an IST major at UW-Milwaukee, was hesitant to vote this election. However, his wife convinced him to join her at the polls.
“For the presidential election I voted Hillary,” Hayes said. “I believe she really believes what she’s saying.”
In the three times that he has been able to vote for president, it’s always been for the Democratic Party.
Hayes agrees with Clinton’s views on Homeland Security as well as education.
“I do personally feel that college education should be free, of course, I’m a college student,” he said.
As far as Trump goes, he never was able to get a sense of who he was.
Hayes said “During the debate, I really couldn’t feel him out. He has no plan. It just seems like a bunch of gibberish, and he’s just up their talking.”
A Future Police Officer Who Supported Trump
By Luis DeLeon
Blake Laufenburg, a junior at UWM studying criminal justice, was one of those eager student voters awaiting his turn to fill out his ballot. After submitting his vote, he explained why he voted for Donald Trump.
“I voted for Mr. Trump because he’s going to be looking out for me when I am in my future career as a police officer,” he said.
As we have seen throughout this election, people are basing their voting choice off of their careers. Each candidate has made statements on what careers would be most affected by their presidency. Laufenburg had more to say.
“And Hillary Clinton is a liar, and will ruin this country.”
In the midst of the intense atmosphere within the crowd, Laufenburg exited the polls with satisfaction.
A Bernie Voter Who Had Hillary Clinton on the Back Burner
By Kaliice Walker
Elena Olsen-Valdez is a 22-years-old community art major and is originally from Madison, Wisconsin.
“I voted for Hillary Clinton and Russ Feingold, “ said Valdez
This is not out of the ordinary, considering that she normally votes Democratic.
Valdez said that she was originally for Bernie Sanders and had Hillary on the back burner.
“When Bernie was kind of phased out I was pro-Hillary,” said Valdez
When speaking of Donald Trump, Valdez said, “He’s a frustrating man, but I am more concerned about the energy that he rallies. “
“I think that a lot of people get safety and upset confused and that is something that that really frustrates me.”
“There a lot of people who are not safe right now and people think that they are upset for no reason,” said Valdez.
Voted for the Person She Thought Respected Her
By Brandon Anderegg
Meghan Ormsby, a sophomore at UWM, says that she recalls the majority of debates as being more about finger pointing and less talk about the issues that matter. She says she does not support Trump.
“I do not like his view point on equality. I don’t think that he supports it even though he might think he does, he doesn’t speak like it,” says Ormsby.
Ormsby says she began supporting the Democratic nominee once Bernie Sanders was no longer in the race.
“I voted for Hillary Clinton because I think she’s the right person to be Commander in Chief, says Ormsby. “We need someone with a very good temperament.”
The first time Ormsby voted in an election was for Barack Obama’s second term back in 2012. However, she says that the 2016 election is different.
“This election was personal,” says Ormsby. “The election is no longer about who I want as my commander in chief but who respects me as a citizen.”
Thinks Social Media Was Critical This Election
By Aubryana Bowen
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 4th year student, Elias Payne pursuing a major in Biology, voted noon today he did his part in voting towards the 2016 presidential election.
Elias nervously munches on his chips while he constantly updates the votes for whom he is rooting for; Hilary Clinton as President and Russ Feingold as US Senate. He hopes Donald Trump is not elected.
“He has this vague overarching theme of ‘Let’s Make America Great Again’ and fix America when he actually has yet to tell us what is broken,” Elias said.
This theme appears everywhere on the Internet.
Elias believes that social media played a huge role in this year’s election. The amount of videos and memes that appears on a person’s Facebook and Twitter timeline is the new research on a candidate.
“It’s not always a good idea though in this case, yes, because the videos and memes are obvious yet people should learn for themselves whose the better candidate. ”
Wanted a Woman President
By Jenna Gaidosh
Unlike previous years Becky Hoefs, a 23-year-old media studies student at UW-Milwaukee, has cast her vote for the 2016 Presidential Election.
Hoefs has typically avoided the voting polls at all costs because politics never interested her. This year was different when she had to choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
“This election has been so negative compared to others, and I just couldn’t dodge voting this year with all this hurtful talk,” said Hoefs.
This election leaves Hoefs with the decision to vote for Clinton. She believes that the country needs a woman president that has many years of experience in politics.
“I don’t think Trump will provide us with what we need when it comes to foreign policy and national security. He doesn’t think before he speaks and that really scares me,” said Hoefs.
She exited the voting polls this morning with a grin on her face and a sticker in her hand knowing that she did her part this year rather than running from it. Hoefs only “hopes for the outcome to be in her favor.”
By Jordan Garcia
It’s 11 a.m. on election day. “I voted” stickers are everywhere on everything, and social media is jammed full of opinions and pleas about the candidates, posts about the voting experience, and a little bit of indifference and memes.
Lauren Karlik is from Muskego and is a senior in the psychology program. She is sitting in the Union Gasthaus going over material for her German culture class that starts at 12:30.
“I’m probably going to bomb this test,” Karlik says. She can’t get her mind off the election.
Karlik didn’t vote in the primary, but when she’s at the polls tonight, she plans to vote for Hillary Clinton for president and Russ Feingold in the senate race, the Democratic candidates for those positions.
“I could never see myself voting for someone who disrespects women as much as Donald Trump does, and who has little to no respect for anyone of a different race or ethnic background,” she said.
Karlik went on to explain how the controversies surrounding the two main candidates affected her decision, but in the end it was an easy one for her.
“His controversies outweigh Hillary Clinton’s,” she explained.
Considers Trump the ‘Lesser of Two Evils’
By Jordan Gasiorowski
On a very important election night across America, Marcus North Shore Cinema in Mequon remains busy.
Nicolas Bocanegra, 21, from Grafton, Wis., is a regular attendee at North Shore Cinema.
“You can’t go wrong with five dollar movie Tuesdays,” Bocanegra said. “It’s the best place to go if you have nothing to do.”
Bocanegra is a Trump supporter and hopes he wins the presidency. “He’s the lesser of two evils,” Bocanegra said. “Between Hillary and her emails, I can’t trust her leading our country.”
Bocanegra doesn’t think much of politicians in general, though. “I still can’t trust any politician.”
This Student Predicted Trump Would Win the Election
By Jordan Gasiorowski
UW-Milwaukee students are ready for the election. For some students they’re still undecided.
Phil Steinberg, 22, a junior majoring in electrical engineering is an undecided voter.
“Neither candidate appeals to me at this time,” Steinberg said. “I look for someone who can run the government efficiently and knows what to do in all situations.”
Steinburg usually in the past has voted democrat. “I vote Democrat because of my family,” Steinburg said.
“I think Trump is going to win the election,” Steinburg said. “It’s going to be by a small margin.”
A Republican Who Switched to Hillary
By Cailynn Hensen
First time voter, 20-year-old Lizzy Sitkin, a junior at UWM, decided to vote against her usual party this election. She voted for Hillary Clinton.
“Normally I am a Republican, but due to the candidates this year, I decided to vote Democratic party,” said Sitkin. Even though I agree with the things Donald Trump has said, I don’t necessarily agree with the person that he is.”
It wasn’t until after researching both candidates that she came up with her final decision a few days ago.
“A lot of Trump’s ideas were too radical for me, so after researching, I decided it was best to vote for Clinton even though I don’t necessarily agree with all of her policies, either.”
Sitkin said she believed “neither candidate is fit to be president, but I hope that whoever does win, proves everyone wrong.”
Believed Hillary Stood for Anti-Racism
By Sabrina Johnkins
Voting in her first presidential election, 20-year-old Lauren Trotter, a double major in Information Science and Technology and Digital Art and Culture at UWM, is proud to say that she has voted for the first female president of the United States.
“I chose Hillary Clinton because compared to the other candidate, she’s going to get done what I want to get done,” said Trotter. “She stands for anti-racism, she’s for education, she’s for helping people, and she wants accomplish the good things. She doesn’t stem from a place of judgment or racism.”
Trotter was quick to admit that for her, Donald Trump was never an option.
“Good ole Donald Trump – he’s a character,” said Trotter. “I never actually thought he would get this far – ever. I think a lot of the things he says, he has no clue what he is saying. He just says it so his crowd goes crazy.”
Trotter hopes that voters will open their eyes and see Trump’s true colors.
“I just don’t think that he would be a positive influence on our county,” said Trotter. “I think he would end up dividing people, rather than bringing us together.”
Trotter admits that while she voted for Clinton today, she was originally feelin’ the Bern’.
“I would have to say that if Bernie Sanders was still in the race, I would probably end up voting for him,” said Trotter. “But, since Hillary got the party nomination, she is my next choice that is going to get things done that are important to me.”
Considered Sitting it Out
By Dylan Jordan
The day to vote for our next president has finally come and after months of anticipation student, Christopher Thompson lines up to cast his vote. Christopher Thompson is a business major who has mixed feelings about this election.
Many people have expressed their reluctance to vote due to their feelings on both candidates. Thompson admits that for a very long time he considered sitting out this election. Thompson says, “I considered not voting because I didn’t really like either of the candidates.” This is how many people seem to feel about this election.
Over the last couple of months there have been many bumps in both candidates’ roads with Hillary’s email controversy and the many times Trump has been under fire for his comments. When asked about his opinion on Trump, Thompson replied, “He just doesn’t seem qualified, plus he doesn’t have any political experience.”
There have also been many people who have expressed that they will not vote because they believe their votes do not matter. Many opinions have been expressed on social media about the dissatisfaction with the election. Students believe they have no voice so they decide to hold their votes.
Christopher Thompson decided to vote for Hillary Clinton based on her party affiliation and the fact that he shares some of the same views as her. He came to this decision after weighing every option and decided she is the best choice out of the two. Thompson says, “We all should exercise our right.” Thompson encourages people to vote because everyone has a voice and votes do matter.
This Hillary Supporter’s Boyfriend is For Trump
By Christina Luick
Tamara Woods, a junior at UWM, has supported Hilary Clinton since the primaries. Woods said she agrees with Clinton’s agenda on woman’s choice to healthcare.
“I think it’s very important that women have quality access to healthcare,” said Woods. “I think it’s a basic human right, and I believe that she has been fighting for that for a long time, and I think that she will continue to do so.”
Woods mentioned how her boyfriend is planning on voting for Donald Trump. She talked about how discussing about political issues can cause some friction, but they are still respectful of each other.
“We will be going together to vote,” Woods said with a little laugh. “And we always make a joke to each other about how we are going to cancel each other’s vote out.”
Woods said she was nervous and excited about the elections.
“I think we are going to look back on this no matter who actually wins and [think] ‘What the heck were we thinking?’”
By Micaela Martin
Today was the second election day for Mackenzie Paschke, a senior studying advertising at UW-Milwaukee. She votedfor Barack Obama in the 2012 election and voted early for Hillary Clinton this election. She talked passionately about her decision, basing it on one feeling;
“Fear,” said Paschke. “I don’t want our future, and future generations and young children to be raised with negative views and attitudes towards various types of people.”
As many others have this election, she voted with the party she most identifies with. For Mackenzie, she has always sided with liberals and her vote for Hillary was solidified with the controversies Donald Trump has caused over this election season.
“I am a quarter Mexican, but I almost always register as white because it’s just easier,” said Paschke. “We’re not all rapists and murderers, I promise. I’ve never raped or murdered anyone.”
Doesn’t Think Republicans Do Enough for Latinos
By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
James Richie, 24, is a graduate student and TA for Spanish. He chose to vote for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.
“I voted for these candidates because as someone who studies and hopes to teach Spanish language and culture, I feel as though the opposing candidates on the Republican ticket do not do enough for the Hispanic community,” Richie said.
Originally from a small town, this the first time he is registered to vote in Milwaukee. In the last Presidential election in 2012, he filed an absentee ballot to vote in his home town, Cumberland, Wisconsin from Spain.
A First Time Voter
By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
UW-Milwaukee sophomore Katie Brzozowski, 19, is excited, today marks the first time she voted in a presidential election.
She originally planned to vote for Bernie Sanders but later changed her vote to support Hillary Clinton. While Sanders was still in the race, Brzozowski realized she didn’t know as much about his views as she thought, so later when he dropped out, she began to focus more on Clinton.
“I think we share a lot of the same views,” Brzozowski said. “Like for example, she is pro-choice, and I think that’s a really big thing because women’s rights are really important to me.”
She also noted that as a college student Clinton’s plan seems more appealing to her. According to Brzozowski, an English major, Clinton plans to help finance loans, eradicate student’s debt and even make college free for middle class students.
Brzozowski is confident in her choice, “I think it’s really exciting to be an American today.”
Felt Trump Was Fascist & Hyper-Nationalist
By Matthew Mussa
Justin Kofoed, 28, is studying Film Production at UWM. He spoke in the lobby at Kenilworth Apartments as he was working on a few pieces of costume design for his upcoming film shoot.
Justin had recently returned from voting at his polling place and explained that his vote for Hillary Clinton stems from his support of Bernie Sanders in the primary. Kofoed said that he likes Sanders’ progressive ideas.
“I’m hoping that the Democrats take the Senate and that way Bernie will force her to keep her promises,” said Kofoed.
Kofoed’s support for Clinton also comes from his dislike of her opponent, Donald Trump.
“I feel like he represents fascism and hyper-nationalism, and those two things combined always end up bad,” said Kofoed. “You can see it in history; Mussolini, Hitler, and Japan. They don’t go well together.”
Kofoed was so inspired by Bernie Sanders this year that he decided to vote for Russ Feingold as well.
“If the progressive agenda that Clinton promised us in the primaries and that Bernie was pushing, wants to go through, we need enough Democrats to cooperate because the Republicans aren’t going to cooperate with that,” said Kofoed.
Voted For Jill Stein
By Nelson Sederstrom
Allison Steines, a JAMS major at UWM, cast her ballot early this morning at the Pierce Elementary School on Fratney St in the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee.
“I voted for Jill Stein,” said Steines emphatically. “I was going to vote for her originally, then changed my vote to [Clinton], but I decided to go back to Stein.”
Steines noted that Stein holds many similar positions as her, citing an overall Green party platform, which is whom Jill Stein is the presidential candidate for.
“I had mixed feelings and mixed ideas about Hillary,” Steines said. “I felt like I wasn’t making a difference by voting for a third party candidate, but then I just decided to do it because that’s what felt right.”
In regards to conditions at the polls, Steines said her polling location was swift and without problems at 8 a.m.
“It went pretty quick, but I assume everyone was just at work.”
By Monica Skipper
Claire Freckmann is one of many people who voted in their first presidential election today. She’s also a part of an even larger group – people who had to change their vote from primary to election day.
In April, Freckmann cast her vote for Bernie Sanders out of pure passion for his beliefs.
“Bernie really cares about everyone,” said Freckmann. “Not just people but minorities, absolutely everyone under the spectrum.”
However, with the results of the primary election, a new decision was inevitable for Freckmann. She was willing to consider both candidates, but with the more and more information coming out about Trump, the choice was clear in the end.
“I wasn’t happy about having to go from Bernie to Hillary, but she’s lesser than two evils, as a lot of people have been saying. I might not agree with everything Hillary says, but I do believe she would be a better president than Trump.”
Was Wearing a Shirt With Clinton’s Campaign Logo
By Margaret Sponholz
UWM freshman Sam Bernelli was a Bernie backer. He voted for Sanders in the primary elections and was disappointed when he lost to Hillary Clinton. Although Bernelli wasn’t completely behind Clinton at first, he didn’t want to vote for a third party candidate, and he knew that Trump’s views didn’t align with his own.
“I think he’s an a-s,” said Bernelli.
Bernelli voted Democratic in both the presidential election and the Wisconsin Senate election, choosing candidate Russ Feingold over Republican Ron Johnson.
“I really agree with his platform on education, the economy and social issues,” said Bernelli.
Despite his initial reluctance to vote for Hillary, Bernelli will now proudly say he’s with her, and wears a blue shirt with Clinton’s campaign logo to prove it.
By Nyesha Stone
“I always vote!” says UWM graduate student Emily Norman. “It changes depending on who is running.”
Norman’s voting experience was quick and easy, since she had already registered. During the primaries back in February, she had voted for Bernie Sanders. This time around she voted for a “straight Democrat ticket for the Congress and local options.” Norman even got the chance to vote for Barack Obama in 2012.
She’s in her second year. Norman is studying Administrative Leadership with an emphasis on higher education.
She’s constantly working with undergraduate students, spreading the the importance of voting. It’s not just about the presidential election, but also those candidate votes that affect voters locally, according to Norman.
“There could always be more people to go out and vote.”
Like some other voters, she knew Hillary Clinton would be in the running for president, but not Donald Trump.
“He’s very right-winged. We tend to in the United States vote people that are more moderate.”
This Voter Supported Hillary Since She Was 9-Years-Old
By Amanda Watter
Brianna Ortiz, 19, is a UWM student who made it clear that she’s voting for Hillary Clinton on election day. What this Beloit, Wis. native loves about Clinton is that she’s never changed what she stands for.
“I have been behind Hillary since the 2008 presidential election, which is crazy because I was still in elementary school when that was going on,” said Ortiz. “So I’ve been backing her up since I was nine years old.”
Wearing a blue t-shirt with a white “H” logo for Clinton’s campaign centered in the middle, Ortiz said it was important that she voted for Clinton and Russ Feingold because Donald Trump and Ron Johnson don’t support Syrian refugees like Clinton and Feingold do.
“People from other countries who need to come into America for religious freedom, economic freedom, they’re more for it whereas Donald Trump or Ron Johnson are basically anti everything,” said Ortiz.
Double majoring in social work and international politics, Ortiz said she wasn’t able to vote during the primary elections because she was out of town. However, if she were able to, she said she would have voted for either Clinton or John Kasich. Now she’s able to vote for someone she’s supported the whole way.
In an election that has come down to a choice between two of the most unlikable candidates in Presidential history, UWM junior John Powell has decided to vote for neither Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
“Typically I vote Republican, but in this election I didn’t really believe there was a true Republican candidate,” said Powell, who majors in history.
Powell is instead voting for Evan McMullin, a third party candidate running as an independent.
“I just didn’t feel like as a black conservative, there was a place for me in the Trump campaign,” said Powell.
The rise of Trump to the top of the Republican ticket left many conservatives like Powell, questioning how he became their nominee.
“I think he grabbed a hold of a lot of anger that some Americans were feeling,” said Powell. “They were angry about constantly having to walk on egg shells worried about being politically correct.”
Although Powell won’t be voting for Trump, he still will support Republican candidate for Senate Ron Johnson who he calls “a good man who has done wonderful work for the people of Wisconsin.”