More than 900 UTEP students, faculty, staff members, and residents of the El Paso community took advantage of early voting on Thursday at the Student Union on campus to cast their choice for president of the United States.
Maggie Ortega, 57, a staff member who helped coordinate and organize UTEP’s early voting day, said she was surprised by the high turnout. City wide, early voting has broken previous voting records, according to local news reports.
“This is the highest turnout that we’ve had in years,” said Ortega, who is services coordinator for the UTEP Student Government Association and worked with the El Paso County Elections Department to bring the mobile voting booth to the Student Union from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on October 27.
The El Paso Department of Elections notifies UTEP staff in advance of the date they intend to set up the mobile voting booth, said Administrative Coordinator Maggie Ortega, who also helped organize the early voting day.
On early voting day, dozens of students, faculty, staff and local residents lined up before 8 o’clock and formed a line that stretched from the Union Building parking lot to the voting booth on the first floor lobby. Some waited in line one to two hours to reach the voting booth.
But the long line didn’t deter some from waiting to cast their vote for their preferred presidential candidate.
Bianca Arciega, a 21-year-old junior majoring in Organizational and Corporate Communication, said she didn’t mind having to wait an hour to cast her vote.
“I think this election is very important,” said Arciega.
“I feel that the biggest thing is the issues of women’s rights and abortion, as well as immigration which hits home for me as well,” she added.
Arciega said she voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton rather than Republican Donald Trump because of the former Secretary of State’s position on these issues.
“I voted for her because she stands for women’s rights. In the last debate she faced the abortion question and she handled it very well…”
Luis Andrade, 19, a senior marketing major, also spent more than one hour waiting to vote. This was his first time voting in a national election.
“A lot of young people like me don’t tend to vote so I want to make my voice and opinion count, especially because this race is so dramatic,” he said, adding that the two candidates have very different opinions on issues that matter most to him.
“I believe that the most important issues are about immigration and the economy,” said Andrade who explained he voted for Clinton instead of Trump because of the billionaire businessman’s strong positions against immigration, Obamacare and harsh rhetoric about deporting undocumented immigrants.
“I don’t agree with Donald Trump… because he is strict on immigration and I feel like immigration is a big part of the economy. I do believe that Hillary Clinton has better positions (on these issues) and is more experienced to lead the nation,” he added.
Kira Crowl Ing, a 43-year-old sophomore majoring in Sociology, said she decided not to vote for either Clinton or Trump, but instead cast her vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson. She said decided to vote for the independent candidate because she is unhappy about Clinton’s email scandal and the accusations of sexual assault by several women against Trump.
“I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton, especially because of the emails scandal that have been directly related with the deaths of Americans,” said Crowl Ing. “I do not like Donald Trump’s rhetoric. He seems to be very dangerous and I do not like somebody who talks about bombing people as somebody who is going to be the highest elected leader for the country.”
She added: “I didn’t want to vote for the main parties… I wanted to vote for somebody that I actually wanted to vote for.”