Few U students vote in primaries

Only 53 people living in the University’s precincts voted in Tuesday’s election.

Stephanie Kudrle

The polls were open but few came.

Only 53 people living in the University’s precincts voted in Tuesday’s primary election. There were 24 voters at the polling location at Centennial Hall and 29 who voted at Coffman Union.

The primary is intended to decide which candidates will be on the ballot for the general election.

U.S. Rep. Martin Sabo, D-Minn., soundly defeated his Democratic challenger, Dick Franson, and will return to defend his seat in the November election.

However, University students did not contribute many votes to that race. Both Centennial Hall’s and Coffman Union’s polling booths were empty for most of the day.

Although low voter turnout is typical for the University during the primary, voters were particularly scarce this year, said Larry Tawil, election chair judge at Coffman Union.

“I’ve been doing this since 1992, and this is the lowest turnout I can recall,” Tawil said. “No one really knows about it unless they read today’s newspaper.”

He said while other precincts have referendums or school board elections on the primary ballot to attract voters, the University precinct only had the U.S. Congress 5th district race.

However, Tawil said a handful of students came to register for the general election. He predicted that students will come out for the general election because they care more about voting for president.

“It’s going to be nothing like today,” he said. “It will be wall-to-wall because a lot of students will want to register right there.”

Many students on campus didn’t know the primary election was Tuesday.

First-year student Kristine Gaustad sat with her friends on the lower level of Coffman Union without realizing the primary election was taking place three floors above them.

“I never even heard about it,” Gaustad said.

Kelly Gerleve, a first-year student sitting with Gaustad, said she didn’t vote because she didn’t know who was running or what they were running for.

“I don’t want to vote without knowing about it,” she said.

Both students live on campus and said they plan to vote in the general election.