Student-voter turnout high at University polling places

Thousands of students voted at polling places on and near campus.

Charley Bruce

Voters came to the polls on election night to have their voices heard.

University students showed up to polling places in large numbers for different reasons, but not all polling places fared the same.

Minnesota Student Association President Max Page said he was the first voter at the Grace University Lutheran Church polling place in Stadium Village at 6:45 a.m.

He said this was the first year MSA was allowed to do non-partisan door knocking in residence halls. Until this election cycle, students were only allowed to door-knock with candidates.

Page hoped this would contribute to a larger student turnout at the polls.

He said face-to-face conversation is the most effective way to get students in the booth.

“(Voting) gives (students) more sway at the Legislature and with University government,” said Page, as students he had spoken to about voting earlier in the day walked past to vote.

Coffman Union

On the third floor of Coffman Union, groups of students were getting in line outside the Mississippi Room doorway to vote.

The line at noon was about 20 people long and by 4 p.m., 471 ballots had been cast, according to an election judge.

This election, 788 people voted at Coffman, down from other midterm elections.

In 2002, another midterm election, 1,791 voted at Coffman. In the 2004 election 2,111 voted, but presidential elections traditionally draw more voters.

Voting statewide was down about 80,000 votes from 2002 and 2004, but vote tallies were not yet finalized by the state canvassing board, which meets Nov. 21.

Christine Herzog, a first-year Carlson School of Management student, said this election was her first time voting.

She said she wanted to have a voice in who will run the state and have power.

Herzog said the governor’s race and Senate race prompted her to vote.

She said because she “registered far in advance,” she had no problems casting her vote.

Peter Hansen, 26, lives in the precinct but doesn’t go to the University. He said he voted because “it’s part of his civic duty.”

It’s important for young people to vote and show they have a voice, he said.

Hansen said young people need “to get out there and vote for what we believe in.”

Hansen voted for Pawlenty’s stances on moral issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, which align closely with his own.

Huy Huynh, an electrical engineering senior, said he voted because education is an important issue this year.

Huynh voted for the first time this year and voted Republican because he said they are eliminating terrorism. Also, he said the war creates electrical engineering jobs.

First-year chemistry student Jennifer Rasmussen said the gubernatorial race motivated her to cast her vote.

She said education is an important issue because she is in college and tuition has gone up recently.

“If I had a say where (tuition) goes, I’d say down,” Rasmussen said.

Grace University Lutheran Church

The church had a line of about a dozen people at 12:30 p.m. and it grew from there. By 1:15 p.m., 450 people had voted, according to an election judge.

At Grace University Lutheran Church on Tuesday, 1,388 people voted, according to the secretary of state’s office.

In the 2004 presidential election, 1,611 voted at the same location, according to documents from the secretary of state’s office.

First-year University student Ben Lewiski said he heard

students will be the deciding demographic this election. This, coupled with a strong desire to participate in his first election, brought him to the polls.

“You can’t complain about what’s going on if you’re not going to go out and vote,” he said.

He said the gubernatorial race drew him to the polls.

“I want Tim Pawlenty back. I thought he did a good job,” Lewiski said.

Kevin Brown, a music performance sophomore, said he wanted a Democratic majority in government.

He said he “wanted to have a voice in politics.”

However, Brown said he has friends who aren’t voting this year because they’re upset about alleged fraud in the 2004 presidential election, when Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., lost.

First-year student Brittany Knapp said she was sick of the two-party system. She voted for the Independence Party.

Knapp said she also supported the instant-runoff voting measure, saying it could save time and get more candidates on the ballot.