College Students In Western Pennsylvania On Voting
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Meanwhile, young people are a critical voting bloc in today's election. And NPR's Elissa Nadworny is in western Pennsylvania, where she's been talking with college students.
ELISSA NADWORNY, BYLINE: It's 8 a.m. when I meet up with Lucy Belleau.
LUCY BELLEAU: Hello, hello.
She's a senior studying Spanish education at Mercyhurst University in Erie, and she's got to walk over to the polls before her classes start.
BELLEAU: It's about seven minutes up the street, so it's not too bad.
NADWORNY: She's from a small town an hour away and says it wasn't until college that she started being more politically engaged.
BELLEAU: It felt like nothing in the world really affected me yet - and then coming here and realizing, like, oh, no, I'm an adult now; this is all affecting me; this is going to be my future and my friends' future.
NADWORNY: When we get to the Methodist Church to vote, there are no lines.
BELLEAU: Yes, I am.
NADWORNY: Belleau heads in to vote in her first presidential election, and I wait outside.
What did it feel like to vote?
BELLEAU: It was really awesome. You know, I got to - you put your ballot into the little machine, and you actually get to see the number tick up. So I was No. 96 here today. So I'm very excited.
NADWORNY: Do you feel comfortable telling me who you voted for?
NADWORNY: Tell me why.
BELLEAU: I guess it's just one of those things. Once you put it in writing, people use it against you for some reason or another, and I don't like that.
NADWORNY: Holden Sczerba is not as tight-lipped. He's a junior studying political science at Mercyhurst, and he's voting for President Trump today. He's been thinking about politics and voting since he was little.
HOLDEN SCZERBA: I mean, in fourth grade, I was John McCain for Halloween.
NADWORNY: He actually drove home about two hours from Erie to vote in person. He called me from the polling place.
SCZERBA: So I am in line. There's about...
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Eighteen.
SCZERBA: ...Eighteen in front of us. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: I already counted.
NADWORNY: He's wavered a bit on who to vote for, but spending time with his relatives this weekend helped clarify things.
SCZERBA: Being home and surrounded by my family and watching the rallies and everything like that made me more comfortable with it, actually - feeling, like, really good about it and excited.
NADWORNY: After waiting in line for an hour, he called with an update - mission accomplished on his first presidential election.
SCZERBA: There was a moment when it first popped up - like, the choices for president. I was like, oh, wow, this is here. This is real. This is actually happening now.
NADWORNY: Sczerba said it took him just a few seconds to vote Republican down the ticket. He's heading back to campus this afternoon to watch returns.
SCZERBA: There's a bell on campus that you're allowed to ring at any time if something good happens.
NADWORNY: If Trump wins, he says he'll be out there ringing that bell no matter what hour it is.
Elissa Nadworny, NPR News, Erie, Pennsylvania.
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