Students respond to end of election

By Se Young Lee

President Bush’s re-election was made official Wednesday morning when Sen. John Kerry conceded defeat instead of challenging the vote count in the state of Ohio, bringing an amicable closure to the contentious election.

Bush, in his victory speech, expressed his optimism for the future.

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“The campaign has ended, and the United States of America goes forward with confidence and faith,” Bush said. “I see a great day coming for our country, and I am eager for the work ahead.”

Joe Plahutnik, a University graduate student, appreciated the fact that Kerry decided to concede the race instead of waiting it out.

“Kerry did show quite a bit of class by letting America know,” Plahutnik said.

Beth Popp, a University graduate student, said referenda that ban same-sex marriages in Ohio and 10 other states, all of which passed the ban, played a major factor in the outcome of the elections.

“Moral issues were more of a driving force than people expected,” Popp said.

She said the segment of the population that was motivated to vote on the referendum overwhelmingly favored Bush – a trend that she thought tipped the scale in the president’s favor.

Stephanie Radliff, sophomore in LAS, said she is disappointed with the results but was happy with how the election procedures were carried out.

“I think the election was as legitimate as it can be,” she said. “I think (the media) was expecting more logistical problems with the voters in Ohio and Florida like we had in 2000. … I was surprised by how smoothly things ran. … I think it’s a relief to everyone that at least this year, (the results) are more solid than last year.”

But Popp, who is from Dayton, Ohio, said some voters in her battleground state had to wait more than nine hours to cast their ballots. While Popp acknowledged the difficulty in estimating voter turnout, she said election officials should take a long, hard look at why such delays occurred.

“I think they’re going to re-evaluate what happened,” Popp said.

Matt Diller, senior in LAS and president of the College Republicans, said the election results solidified Bush’s position as president.

“I think, in this case, there is a very clear mandate for his agenda,” Diller said, noting that Bush not only won the majority of electoral votes but also won the majority of popular votes. Diller, a former Daily Illini employee, said the apparent mandate will allow Bush to pursue key agendas.

But Philip Stanton, sophomore in LAS and treasurer of the College Libertarians, made it clear that Bush did not have the mandate of Libertarians.

“The Libertarian Party has no love lost for Mr. Bush,” Stanton said. “We definitely do not like his stance on civil liberties.”

Popp said the results of the election demonstrate the need for Democrats to rethink their plans.

“It was a bad day for Kerry, but also for the Democratic Party,” Popp said. “Losing (Senate Minority Leader) Daschle was a big hit … the Democratic Party is going to have to re-evaluate what its core values are and do a better job on articulating those issues,” she said.

Plahutnik, while expecting no significant changes in the federal government’s policies, is hopeful about the next four years.

“I think you can expect a whole lot of the same,” Plahutnik said. “But … things will get better if both sides work together towards a common goal.”