The Cavalier Daily
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A Capitol Calm

WASHINGTON-Rushing up and down the Metro escalators, people from all walks of life scurried off to their respective corners of the metropolitan area. Briefcases or lunchboxes in tow, it was just another day in the nation's capital - except it was Election Day. The identity of the next occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. hung in the balance as the people of D.C. continued their daily routines.

At Union Station

4:30 p.m. -With several hours to go before the polls closed, presidential predictions were left to blind speculation. Business at the Union Station food court picked up, but there were no obvious signs of Election Day.

Shana Riggins dined on fettuccini, the contents of her briefcase strewn across the table. Riggins moved to the District as a non-registered citizen but said she didn't know whom she would have chosen even if she had been registered.

"I'm so torn between these two retards," she said with aggravation.

Riggins said she had no regrets about not participating in what many deem their civic duty, instead considering it an election between two cardboard cut-out candidates.

"I don't know what I'm going to do -- one of these men is going to be president," she moaned with frustration.

Across the floor next to a coffee stand, Yons Asafaw of Silver Spring, MD. waited for a friend to meet him for dinner. Asafaw, an Ethiopian native, could not vote in the U.S. presidential race, but this did not prevent him from avidly supporting Vice President Al Gore.

Texas Gov. George Bush, "as far as I am concerned, does not like foreigners," he said with an intense look in his eyes. "I think that if Gore is elected he could help foreign people a lot by giving them a tax break."

Asafaw's belief in the American dream is apparent throughout his conversation. To him, freedom is everything, and Gore is the man to fight for his liberty.

"America is a country where people can live the way they want to live," Asafaw said. "If you want to work hard, you should be able to, and be successful."

Behind Asafaw, eight high school juniors from Detroit, Mich. erupt in laughter over their meal.

"We're trying sushi for the first time ever," 16-year-old Heather Handlon said as she squeezed the rice covered ball between two chopsticks.

On an Advanced Placement United States history school trip, the majority of the 16 and 17-year-olds pledged their allegiance to Gore as the only hope for their future.

"I don't like Bush because he's all for the rich, and I am definitely not rich," 16-year-old John Vermiglio said, a smile reached across his mouth revealing rows of shiny silver braces.

Next to him 16-year-old Steve Fioritto shakes his head in disagreement. Though greatly outnumbered by his peers, Fioritto remains true to his Republican views.

"Gore is basically a robot in my opinion," he said. "He has no personality and no original ideas."

Upstairs, three young Nine West shoe store employees from Maryland sported "I Voted" stickers on their lapels. As the women unwrapped shoeboxes from the new winter shipment, they each checked the other to make sure everyone had voted the right way.

"You better not have let me down with this one," Timeka Glasgow said as she waved her finger at fellow employee Jennifer Heven behind the register.

"Sure, I voted for Gore," Heven replied. "He's a good dresser."

They burst into laughter.

The Capitol Grounds

5:45 p.m. - For Sean Carr of Greenbelt, Md., a security guard outside the Russell Senate Office Building, watching politicians come and go is the daily routine. Even though his booth is immersed in the heart of Capitol debate, where bantering on issues is common, Carr said the issues were not a factor. He voted for Bush strictly along party lines.

"It's been business as usual," Carr said of the Election Day atmosphere.

Election day didn't change the routine of D.C.'s committed population of joggers. Sporting blue spandex leggings and running shoes, John Leggieri of Manassas, Va. stopped to stretch on the Capitol grounds.

As a staffer for New York Congressman John Sweeney (R), Leggieri described the atmosphere of this election as "exciting" due to higher voter turnout.

As he panted and perspired, Leggieri gave his support to Bush.

"He's going to bring a new perspective to D.C. and the nation," he said.

On the Mall

6:30 p.m. - As election evening wore on, Frisbee players and government workers cleared the National Mall. The large expanse became almost desolate, with a few exceptions.

Maryland residents Drek Bennett and Jerome Lewis waited for a bus outside the Air and Space Museum, eagerly voicing their opinions about the election.

"Politicians say 'I'm for the people,' but then when they get into the presidency they forget the people," Lewis said passionately.

"We are the little people," Bennett stated simply with a shrug.

Both men said they voted for Gore, but have confidence in America's future, despite who wins.

"I hope whoever wins does the best he can for all the people," Lewis said.

Washington may be the center of American political life, but like Charlottesville, it is also home to college students. Catholic University sophomores Jill Ward and Kelly Ann Creazzo ate dinner while sitting on a bench along the Mall.

Ward, an education major and Maryland resident, said she voted for Gore because she sees him as the "lesser of two evils."

"I also appreciate his stance on education," she said.

A Delaware resident, Creazzo said she did not get a chance to register, but wished she had been able to vote for Gore since the race was so close.

"Fifty percent of Catholic's students are politics majors," she explained. "In classes we always somehow get on the political issues. You can't avoid them."

The Metro - The View from Underground

En route between L'Enfant Plaza and Metro Center, two more collegeage voters discussed their views on abortion in relation to the election. Lindsay Beck, an Arlington, Va. resident and Georgetown graduate student, displayed her democratic pride with Al and Tipper Gore's famous kiss immortalized as a button on her red coat. Next to her, Krystal Fisher, also from Arlington, explained why Gore must win the election.

"We think Bush is an idiot," she said with a matter-of-fact expression on her face.

Beck, an education student, said she believed strongly in Gore's education reform initiatives, while Fisher, a black USC student, made hate crimes and racial profiling her focus. Both look to Gore as a way of continuing the prosperity of the recent past. They said they don't even want to think about the state of the union with Bush in office.

"Oh my God, that is my worst nightmare," Fisher said, throwing her head and hands back into the air. "I don't think [Bush] has a good grasp on anything."

At the McPherson Square stop, University Class of '99 Commerce graduate Noah Kaufman was spotted easily in his orange and blue Cavalier windbreaker. He had difficulty finding anything in this election to get excited about.

"The different candidates are so close that it's almost like ying and yang. Bush is charismatic and smooth, but he's also ambiguous. On the other hand, if Gore wins, he'll spend too much money on Social Security," he said.

Kaufman had just gotten off work at Arthur Andersen consulting. He justified his vote for Gore by his support of Lieberman.

"I don't like Clinton, but at least he had to build himself up from the start," he said. "These guys [Gore and Bush] are not underdogs, they're overdogs."

The Mansion

7:30 p.m. - Like the Mall a few blocks away, the front of the White House showed few signs of life as the polls neared closing. Light reflected off the building's exterior, illuminating the future home of the race's victor. Earlier in the day, two skateboarders donning Bush and Gore masks battled it out in front of the mansion's gate, but now only a few tourists strolled by the first family's home.

Patrick Timmeny, a native of New York City, and Don Condorn, originally from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., sat on an elaborately painted wooden structure on Pennsylvania Avenue. These political activists were not focused on the election, rather were part of the Vigil Against Nuclear Weapons stationed in front of the White House since 1984.

While Condorn, one of the vigil's original organizers, said he was politically-minded when it came to his cause, he didn't see the sense in voting for president.

"I think voting is a fallacy, a grand illusion to make the American people feel important, as if they have a voice," Condorn said.

Meanwhile, a ragged-looking man marched up and down Pennsylvania Avenue, chanting Bible verses and encouraging the legalization of marijuana. With the White House looming in the background, certainly, it seemed business as usual in D.C.


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