Seasoned voter proud of national democracy
Concepcion Jimenez, 72, smiled as she looked around at the large crowd on hand ready to vote at St. Augustine Catholic Church Tuesday morning.
“I love Election Day,” she said, as the cool morning breeze made for a pleasant wait in line. “It is always exciting for me to vote. I’ve been doing this for a while now.”
Indeed, Jimenez, a retired school teacher had been at this for a while; Tuesday marked the 16th presidential election she had voted in.
“I remember voting for Eisenhower in ’52,” she said. “I still get a little thrill each time I get my ballot after waiting in line.”
Jimenez was one of hundreds in line to cast their ballots early in this year’s election. Many were college students voting for the first time with a chance to feel that thrill for themselves.
“I don’t even mind the line; to me, it’s a part of the experience of voting for the first time,” said Bianca Vanrell, a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. “I’ve waited for the opportunity to vote all my life.”
The large turnout was a positive sign of voter participation among college students and residents in the Coral Gables area. Miami-Dade County is often one of the last to be decided, influencing the direction of a state with a decisive 29 electoral votes.
College students at the University of Miami in particular had an excellent chance to be engaged in the political process throughout the campaign season. President Barack Obama made three visits to the campus in the calendar year, and Gov. Mitt Romney made two this semester. Each realized the importance of South Florida voters to their campaigns.
“Not many universities had the opportunity to see the presidential candidates so many times,” said Nina Ball, a junior majoring in biology. “I made sure I attended as many of their visits as possible, and I think a lot of the students here did as well. Political apathy is rare here.”
Miami poll workers did not run into any election day issues similar to those during early voting when voters were turned away after a station because they could not handle the mass of people. After casting her vote and walking out of the parking lot of St. Augustine, Jimenez took one last look around and took it all in.
“It’s a wonderful country. This is great.”