SYRACUSE – Like most of their classmates, Syracuse University juniors Sahan Jayawardena and Haley Murphy have gotten swept up in the enthusiasm for this year’s presidential election.
There were student-led registration drives to sign up voters. Visits by Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to Syracuse. And plenty of public displays of political points of view on campus.
“It’s everywhere. Even in chalk on the roads. I saw ‘Donald Trump sucks. Bernie Berned him,’” said Murphy, a television, radio and film major from Rhode Island. She spoke outside the Edward Smith Elementary School in Syracuse, where many on-campus SU students go to vote.
Jayawardena, a film major from Iowa, said his registration officially took effect about four days before Primary Day. He registered as a Democrat and, like many of his peers, is a supporter of the Vermont senator, who is more than 50 years older than him.
“I went the Bernie route,” he said, lauding Sanders’ stance on increasing the minimum wage.
“Feel the Bern, baby,” Murphy said with enthusiasm.
Murphy, for her part, was crushed to learn that when she registered to vote as an independent, New York’s election laws barred her from voting in a party primary.
Both students said they haven’t previously voted in local races in New York or in their home states, but said this presidential election, the first for which they are eligible to vote, is different.
“For president, it doesn’t matter where I am, it’s going to affect me,” Murphy said.