What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been

By Melissa Kramer

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Michelle Pena poses with a post-vote cupcake.

Two friends enter the glossy double doors of the polling center at SUNY New Paltz. “It is time,” one friend says to another. Today is Election Day, and anticipation surrounds the campus.

Inside the large gathering space, a small but anxious line waits for its big moment. Voting booths are lined up toward the back of the room; ready for the selections of those who are about to perform their civic duty.

On that frigid morning, while donning a white winter hat, Michelle Pena, a junior at New Paltz, said she was excited to vote because, like many of her peers, it was her first time.

Pena says the presidential nominees are “super surreal,” and that election day is “terrifying.”

“There’s just so much hate, insults, bad vibes and negative energy,” Pena said. Pena’s experience was met with strong feelings toward Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump.

Pena says: “I just hate Trump a lot. Sometimes when I hear him talk, I wonder what parallel universe or timeline we have fallen into. It’s terrifying the things he says. The things he’s talking about have always existed in our country, he’s just exposing it, which is terrifying and scary.”

As students file one-by-one out of the polling place, some have a look of relief upon their faces. While leaving, they stumble upon a table hosted by the Student Activities Managers with a spread of red, white and blue cupcakes along with stickers that read, “I voted.”