U students experience voting obstacles

stbridgesymposium

Jennifer Whalen

stbridgesymposium

Many students experienced long lines and registration obstacles as they attempted to vote on Tuesday, while some polling locations saw an unexpected lack of voter turnout. A lot of students were coming throughout the day with improper identification, such as leases, said Wayne Barnhart , the head election judge at the University Lutheran Church of Hope polling location on 13th Avenue Southeast. He said he turned away a number of people from the location, which had two-hour-long lines in the morning but was quieter by the evening. âÄúThere always seems to be confusion every time there is an election, even though itâÄôs printed on the secretary of stateâÄôs website,âÄù Barnhart said. Compared to 2004, when he also worked at that polling location, he said lines were much longer this time around. Dinkytown resident Ryan Grover voted at the 13th Avenue location, but it took him three attempts and more than two hours of waiting and looking for an acceptable utility bill before he finally submitted his vote. Grover said he and his friends were turned away when they brought a bill that did not have a specific due date. He was finally able to vote when his roommate, who had voted previously with a different bill, came to vouch for Grover and his friends. Student voters also lined up outside of the Grace University Lutheran Church polling location on Harvard Street, reading books, surfing the Internet on laptops and listening to iPods as they waited their turn to vote. By late afternoon, the line of students wrapped around the church, deep into the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview drop off/pick up lane behind Moos Tower. Business and marketing junior Andrea De Vuono and human resource development senior Kelsey Faust had been waiting in line for about an hour and a half when they finally got near the church. De Vuono said she had already tried to wait for an hour at 6:30 a.m., but had to leave the line to go to work. Seniors Leah Grimes and Erica Siitari had been waiting in line for 35 minutes, with a long way to go before they got inside the church. âÄúI expected them to be long, but not this long,âÄù Grimes said. âÄúThis is a lot worse than I thought.âÄù Grimes said she was going to vote, no matter how long the wait. Elementary education senior Annie Fischer voted in 2004, but said this election is more meaningful for her. âÄúThis is a much bigger election for me,âÄù she said. âÄúI felt more involved and more excited about my choice, better informed.âÄù Fischer said she waited an hour and a half to vote at Van Cleve Park , and that it was well worth it. With fewer than two hours to go before the polls closed, the lines there stretched far down the sidewalk. But with less than half an hour left the lines at Van Cleve dissipated. Election judge Eileen Kilpatrick said she didnâÄôt expect the lines to disappear when the polls were nearing a close. âÄúIt surprised all of us,âÄù she said. She said she thinks a lot of voters came out earlier because they anticipated long lines. Turnout was not as strong at Coffman Union as at other polling locations. Ren Tawil, the head election judge at Coffman, said no one had to wait more than 25 minutes to vote. âÄúIâÄôm very surprised with the lack of business, especially with the anticipated turnout for this election,âÄù Tawil said.