Students hit the polls slowly on Election Day

Voter turnout surpassed that in the primaries in some areas on and near the University campus.

Polls are open for Election Day, and University of Minnesota students are heading out to vote — at least, some of them are.

Despite a noticeable increase in student turnout from August’s primary election in polling places throughout the University area, some say more students should be out voting for the traditionally slower mid-term election unfolding Tuesday.

“I was surprised. I thought there was going to be more people,” said microbial engineering master’s student Elizabeth West, who voted at the Weisman Art Museum polling location.

Races on Tuesday’s ballot include U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, governor, the state Legislature and elected offices like the Minnesota secretary of state and state auditor. Polls opened at 7 a.m. and will close at 8 p.m.

By about 9:30 a.m., 27 people had voted at the Weisman Art Museum, said election judge Mikki Murray. That number far exceeds the four ballots cast in the same location by noon during the primary election August 5.

“The number of voters at this time is twice the total turnout we had during the primary elections in August,” Murray said Tuesday morning.

University student groups, including College Republicans, College Democrats and the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, have campaigned on campus and in surrounding neighborhoods during the weeks leading up to the election to encourage students and residents to vote.

Ward 3 City Councilman Jacob Frey was waging a similar campaign on the University’s Washington Avenue Bridge on Tuesday morning, where he called out to students to go vote.

At the Van Cleve Park polling center in the Southeast Como neighborhood, which has a large student population, about 140 people had cast votes just after 9 a.m. for the precinct, Head Election Judge Eileen Kilpatrick said.

That number had jumped to 320 by about 1:20 p.m. In contrast, about 80 people had voted at the same precinct by 4 p.m. in the August primary.

Some students who voted said they decided to cast a ballot out of a sense of civic duty.

“That’s what you do in a democratic society,” said engineering freshman Michael Sidell, adding that he cast a straight Democratic ballot at the Grace University Lutheran Church polling location near the University’s Superblock of residence halls.

Sidell said his views on social issues fell in line with the Democratic Party’s.

Management freshman Troy Gotch said he voted Republican because he agrees with candidates’ views on issues like abortion, the economy and education.

Voting turnout was underwhelming, Gotch said.

“It’s kind of a low turnout,” he said. “My roommates aren’t voting.”