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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Thousands of students vote in ground-breaking election

Polling Places: Student voters largely experienced short wait times at polling locations though problems arose at the Madison Fire Station 1.

Thousands of students vote in ground-breaking election


Thousands of UW-Madison students turned out to vote for Election Day 2008. Although there were small glitches and delays at polling stations during the day, officials said the process was an overall success. 


Voter registration issues 


Minor delays and glitches met Madison voters Tuesday. 


The Madison Fire Station 1 polling location caused some problems for voters. According to several student sources, some voters registered before Nov. 4 did not appear on the voter registration list.  


Susan Robertson, chief inspector for the fire station polls, said select voters who did not appear on the list had to re-register with adequate proof of residence. 


According to Elaine Meszaros, second time poll worker, some students did not have proof of residency when first finding out about the glitch, but many students returned to cast their ballot. 

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Multiple voter registration lists also created confusion at the Memorial Library polling station, according to Chief Inspector Ann Waidelich. 


Lines at the polls 


Students lined up outside various polling locations on campus to wait to cast their ballots for the 2008 election. Many found long lines early Tuesday morning compared to afternoon or evening lines.  


From 7 to 8 a.m. students waited almost an hour and a half to reach the polling stations at the Madison Fire Department and an hour to reach the stations in Gordon Commons.  


However, according to UW-Madison freshman Emily Welch, lines started to clear at 9 a.m. and students only had to wait 10 minutes at Gordon Commons.  

By noon, students experienced no wait at the Memorial Library polling station.  


Danielle Brockman, also a freshman, said she thought some people would not vote because of the supposed long wait.""  


""I have talked to other people and said 'I don't want to wait,'"" Brockman said.  

Last minute voters at 7 p.m. at Memorial Library, Gordon Commons or the fire station did not have to wait in line. 


Student voter reaction 


Many first time voters said they were glad their voices were heard in such a historical election.  


When interviewed at the polls, students said they were optimistic about the success of the election. 


""No matter how it ends up,"" UW-Madison junior Sara Ossanna said, ""more than anything I think it will be historical based on the voter turnout."" 


Daniel Walker, a senior, said it has been a long awaited election and students appeared to be ""pumped"" to vote.  


First-time voters at the fire station said the short lines make voting a quick and easy experience. 


""It went really well,"" sophomore Scott Sokn said. ""I knew exactly what to do and how to do it."" 


Mid-day voter turnout 


According to Rachel Strauch-Nelson, spokesperson for Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, as of 11 a.m. Tuesday, an initial roundup showed 42,236 Election Day voters, but the number is expected to rise as more complete counts come in. The absentee ballot count as of Monday night was 32,012. 


Misleading text messages 


According to The Huffington Post, reports of mysterious text messages encouraging Obama supporters to vote Wednesday were sent to voters in multiple states including Wisconsin, Arizona, Texas and Florida. 


""Due to the long lines expected today, all Obama voters are asked to vote on Wednesday. Please forward to everyone,"" the text message instructed. 


The University of Florida Vice President for Student Affairs sent out a clarification e-mail to students about the deceiving text. 


According to Eric Eagon, staging location director for Students for Obama, only four people he talked to received the text. 


""We know that there is at least three copies of it going around,"" Eagon said. ""We don't know how widespread it is. We know that someone is trying to suppress Obama voters from turning out [but] we are just going to keep pushing on."" 


Student leaders on Library Mall Tuesday told students if they received a text message to disregard it. 


Eagon said he is not blaming the McCain campaign because he does not have any idea who sent the text. 


- Melanie Teachout, Alyssa Connolly, Andrea Carlson, Estephany Escobar, Cassie Holman, Kelsey Gunderson, Hannah Furfaro and Hannah McClung contributed to this report

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