Hampton Univ. Pirates push out to polls

By Michael Turner

HAMPTON, Va. – Most students planning to hit the polls Tuesday morning in hopes of beating the crowd had set their alarms, coordinated transportation, and prepared their routes to polling stations Monday night.


Some students had little other choice.


Terry Pompey, a freshman journalism major from New Jersey, was on a train home Monday night in order to cast his ballot in person. Pompey estimated that he would arrive after 2 a.m.


“I’ve got at least three more hours on this train,” he said, “but I had to find a way to show up in person to make sure what little I can add to the voting process is counted.”


Even after realizing how tiring Monday and Election Day will be, Pompey was excited to be voting at the polls for the first time in such an historic election: “My mom was all for me coming home, too. She said as long as I was willing to pay the train ticket, she’d wait for me to go out and vote with her.”


A number of other students on campus expressed similar obligations to make a physical appearance at the polls — even if they hadn’t registered outside of their home state.


Ronald Britt, a sophomore nursing major from Maryland, also returned home last night. He and his mother planned on waking up this morning before dawn to vote.


“She is the one who really wanted me to experience the voting process first hand,” he said.


“At first the idea of coming back home just to stand in long lines when I could just send an absentee ballot seemed dumb, but now, I realize how much more personal this type of voting will be.”


Britt’s anticipation of drawn-out wait times and rowdy crowds did not deter his plan or put a dent his mood, either.  “I’m assuming it will be packed,” he said, “but that’s going to be a unique part of my in-person experience.”

In state, a number of students are returning to vote at local polling stations in Suffolk and Virginia Beach, while others are driving to Alexandria and Manassas in Northern Virginia.

Sean Hunt, a junior nursing major was driving over three hours to Washington, D.C. Monday night not only to return home, but to “get close to the action,” he said. “I can’t wait to see how Washington reacts to Obama’s win tomorrow night. Or maybe the other way around.”


Coming off the heels of this past weekend’s Hampton homecoming festivities, a renewed presence of family across campus brought the idea of voting into a very personal context. The mix of election campaigning at alumni-drawing events like the bazaar and concert placed the election at the forefront of many parents’ minds.


“My dad came up this weekend and really pushed me to come back home and stand in line at the polls with him,” said Jamila Gerald, a junior education major.


“It made me less annoyed with having to make the trip home to Virginia Beach because he is so motivated to vote.”


Hampton students set out in all directions last night to arrive ready to vote Tuesday morning. By the time the lines lengthen, Pirates hope to be at the forefront of not only experiencing history, but writing it first-hand.                   


The writer is a junior at the Hampton University Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.