Through students’ eyes: Voting in 2020
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Edited By Beatrice Shlansky, Kate Della Pietra, Olivia Treynor

In a normal election, students would be turning in their ballots from Morningside Heights and attending debate and election watch parties in droves. Instead, this year, the COVID-19 pandemic has spread Columbia students across the globe, ushering in an unprecedented political and public health climate. To capture these changes, we asked our photographers to document what voting looks like for students across the country.

Photographers captured a striking variety of experiences. Two reporters from Silicon Valley showed polling centers with no wait, while one from Long Island documented a line of voters waiting outside all night to cast their ballots. Several reporters submitted their ballots through USPS blue boxes and county ballot drop boxes, which millions of voters nationwide have made use of to cast a record-breaking number of mail-in ballots. The anticipation of the 2020 election extended to students on the other side of the globe as well—one international reporter showed us what American political coverage looked like on his side of the pond. Here is a peek at what students have encountered from Silicon Valley to Lisbon while voting during this presidential election.

An in-person voting station staffed by a volunteer at a local church. Photo by Selina Yang. Saratoga, CA.

Ballot drop box at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. Photo by Selina Yang. Saratoga, CA.

The Addison County sheriff watches the Ferrisburgh town offices during in-person voting. Photo by Beatrice Shlansky. Ferrisburgh, Vermont.

Election mail-in ballot box shot in Victory Park. Photo by Millie Felder. Pasadena, CA.

Two students pore over the article “América O Momento Da Verdade” (or “America: The Moment of Truth”). Photo by Joao Santos. Lisbon, Portugal.

Three students watch the latest poll results for the presidential election while abroad. Photo by Joao Santos. Lisbon, Portugal.

On the evening of Oct. 30, dozens of eager voters line up around the block of the Mid-Island Y JCC. Even in the rainy conditions, many are compelled to use their ballots to have their voices heard. Photo by Princeton Huang. Plainview, NY.

A polling center at a local youth center. Photo by Olivia Treynor. Los Altos, CA.

A sign directs voters outside an in-person voting center. Photo by Olivia Treynor. Los Altos, CA.

A polling location at P.S. 36 in Manhattan with no lines on Election Day. Photo by Samantha Camacho. New York, NY.

A mailbox in Morningside Heights. Photo by Samantha Camacho. New York, NY.

A row of mailboxes with the Flatiron mountain range in the background. Photo by Kate Della Pietra. Boulder, CO.