A new generation of voters made it clear — the country needed change. The historic election brought about record-breaking voter turnout amid one of the most deadly and polarized points of the 21st century.
Former Vice President Joe Biden secured the 270 Electoral College votes needed to become the 46th president of the U.S. on Saturday morning, according to The Associated Press. Sen. Kamala Harris, the vice president-elect, becomes the first woman and person of color elected to the vice presidency
Biden, 77, is the oldest U.S. president ever elected, but his path to victory was secured by young voters. Voters aged 18-29 voted overwhelmingly for Biden by 25 percentage points, according to AP polling.
Biden served as former President Barack Obama’s vice president from 2008 to 2016. The president-elect will be inaugurated in January.
The 2020 election saw record turnout despite the COVID-19 pandemic. While voters wondered who would lead for the next four years, the U.S. set records in new COVID-19 cases. More than 74 million people voted for Biden, the most votes for any presidential candidate ever. The president-elect won the popular vote by a margin of about 4.2 million as of Saturday morning.
Many of Biden’s proposed policies speak to issues championed by college-aged voters like his plans for higher education, climate change and health care.
Trey Hemond, a 21-year-old political science senior and public relations coordinator for the UF College Democrats, said young people should be excited about a Biden presidency. The president-elect will work toward affordable college, reforming criminal justice and acting on climate change, he said.
“Trump's rhetoric has really contributed to some of the divisions people feel in politics,” Hemond said. “I think people really showed up to the polls to voice their opinion on that.”
Biden’s higher education plan includes making the first two years of community college tuition free.
Biden has said he supports adding a public option to the Affordable Care Act, which would create an affordable publicly funded health care option. According to his campaign website, the proposed public option would cover abortion, a constitutional right under Roe v. Wade.
The president-elect said he wants to pass criminal justice reform to root out systemic racism and reduce incarceration. He has been against the “defund the police” movement, opting instead to shift focus from criminalization to rehabilitation.
Throughout his campaign, Biden said climate change is the number one threat facing the U.S. today. The president-elect said he would have the U.S. re-enter the Paris Climate Agreement, an agreement between nations to reduce global emissions, as soon as he enters office.
Although Trump lost the election, he won Florida’s 29 Electoral College votes. Biden unsurprisingly won Alachua County by 27 percentage points, about 38,000 votes. The Democratic presidential nominee has won Alachua County in every election since 1992.
Alachua, Duval and Leon were the only counties in North Florida where Biden won.
Caitlan Dickey, a 20-year-old UF public relations junior and registered Democrat said she voted for Biden, in part because of her dislike of Trump. Newly engaged and hoping to start a family, the biggest issue on the table for Dickey is health care, she said.
“The idea of not being able to afford health care is really scary to me,” she said.
Fiona Barnes, the 64-year-old director of the Management Communication Center at the UF Warrington College of Business Administration, voted for Biden because he represents justice, fairness and morality. Barnes wants Biden to undo some of the actions of the Trump administration.
“We can maybe roll back some of the environmental and human rights injustices that have been perpetrated,” she said.
The morning after Election Day provided little understanding as to who would win the presidency. Biden held leads in Arizona and Nevada, while Trump falsely declared victory. Following Trump’s false claims, local organizers rallied around Gainesville City Hall as part of national demands to “protect the results” of the election.
Biden trailed in the Midwest early on Election Day. Once Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania began counting mail ballots, results started coming in overwhelmingly in the president-elect’s favor. The AP called Michigan and Wisconsin for Biden late Wednesday afternoon. Trump won both states when he defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.
North Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Nevada were counting mail ballots into Thursday, and this caused Biden to make cuts into Trump leads, especially in Pennsylvania and Georgia.
Biden took the lead in Pennsylvania and Georgia early Friday morning. Just before 9 a.m. Friday morning, Decision Desk HQ called Pennsylvania and the race for Biden. The AP called Pennsylvania on Saturday at 11:25 a.m.
Katharine Baker, a 45-year-old unemployed nurse and registered Democrat, voted early for Biden at Millhopper Branch Library in Gainesville. Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was a deciding factor in Baker’s decision to vote for Biden.
The president-elect earned her vote because she feels as though he cares about all different kinds of people, she said.
“I hope we can reunite the country,” Baker said.
Nora O’Neill contributed to this report.