Millions of Americans went to polling stations today, as they decided who gets to be the President of the United States for the next four years. As results came in, the race grew closer and thousands of people gathered at Times Square to watch, celebrate or commiserate together.
Nora Goldbach and Matthew Barter stood and watched as a crowd cheered and waved posters in front of an ABC camera crew. Holding a ripped sign, Goldbach, 21, said she was happy to be in Times Square for election night. “I came with a group because [international students] couldn’t vote,” said the student of American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA). “In Hungary, you don’t really see people supporting the parties like they do here.”
Barter, who is an AADA international student from England, agreed. “Its cool to be in this kind of atmosphere,” he said. “We’re normally sitting out with a cup of tea just watching this on TV.”
It is a tight race between the incumbent Democrat, President Barack Obama, and his challenger, Republican Governor Mitt Romney. Polling stations in New York closed at 9 p.m., the last state to close polls will be Alaska at 1 a.m. eastern time.
As of 10:56 p.m., the electoral vote stood at 173 for Obama and 174 for Romney.
Dimitri Lapidus, a systems administrator, was optimistic. “I’m hopeful that Obama will pick up. Once he wins the West Coast states, he’ll gain some ground,” said the 38-year old California native. He filled out an absentee ballot here in New York while on vacation. “I didn’t expect these numbers. Romney appealed to the undecided voters in his campaign and was apparently successful.” Lapidus thought Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath on the East Coast heavily affected the elections. “NY ran out of ballots and because many people don’t have electricity, they can’t vote electronically,” Lapidus said.
At 11:15 p.m., Obama had 251 electoral votes and Romney had 203 votes. People began cheering “Obama!”
While crowds watched the jumbo screens around Times Square closely, Mike Ward stood skeptical. The management consultant from London believed the hype surrounding the election was overdone. “Obama was always gonna win and it’s not a close race,” said Ward. “The media just exaggerated the situation.” He said he followed the election closely because it doesn’t just affect the U.S. but many nations worldwide, including the United Kingdom.