Tensions high as Champaign Art Theatre watched 2016 election results


Photo Courtesy of Joe Longo

The 2016 election updates are projected on the screen at the Art Theater on Tuesday, November 8, 2016.

By Michael Semaca, Staff Writer

Unease was in the air as a packed Art Theatre watched the 2016 presidential election results pour in Tuesday night. The downtown Champaign venue opened its doors to the people of Champaign-Urbana for election night.

Alicia Kozma, an employee at the Art Theatre, said the staff decided to host the event after co-workers constantly discussed the election.

“We decided it would be a really nice thing to open up the theater as a community space, a safe space, for everybody to come in and watch it all together and kind of collectively deal with the emotions and the tension around the election as a community,” she said.

While the theater has a reputation for being a progressive venue, Kozma said all locals regardless of political affiliation were and are welcome. She also said there had been no problems with people clashing over their political beliefs.

Kozma also emphasized the importance of voting as a civic duty.

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    “It’s one of the many benefits we have as American citizens,” she said. “And to not vote, or to vote irresponsibly or to vote in ignorance is to dismantle the bedrock of this country, essentially.”

    Regardless of the election results, Kozma believes it was a memorable night at the Art Theater.

    “One way or another this is a historic moment,” she said. “Tomorrow, we’re gonna have to deal with the world as it is and move on together.”

    Voter Tadd Adcox of Urbana was also in attendance Tuesday night. Adcox said he came downtown to experience the results in a public place.

    He recently moved to the area from Chicago wanted to be around a group of people.

    “Democracy is people, and I wanted to be around as many people as I could while this was happening,” Adcox said.

    Adcox said the results of the early evening were closer than he would like. Although Illinois is a historically blue state, Adcox believes the margins in Illinois elections will matter.

    “If it comes down to a close election, the next four years are going to be terrible,” he said. “I really want this to be a blowout.”

    The theater was packed with viewers, including Tim Lu. Lu, originally from China, decided to attend the viewing party to learn about how the U. S. election process.

    Liu said China’s election process is very different. In China, voters select representatives from their community who then elect their president, instead of voters electing them.

    “There’s no direct relationship between your choice and the final president of the country,” he said.

    While Lu said he wouldn’t call one system better than the other; he enjoys learning about the American system.

    “It’s a whole different world, and it’s very interesting for me,” he said.

    Like Lu, Canadian Maryna Lesoway is experiencing her first election in the U. S. She noted the mixed emotions in the theater.

    “It’s been jubilant and upbeat,” she said. “But there’s an underlying tension, as the results come in.”

    Lesoway considered voting incredibly important, particularly in extremely tight races like Tuesday’s election.  She was surprised by the way that the election had gone this election season.

    “Crazy is the best way to put it. It’s bizarre to watch from an outsider perspective — maybe incomprehensible”

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