Election Day arrives
After months of debate and anticipation, the election that has college students all over the nation ranting and rallying is just one day away. Tomorrow is Election Day. The excitement is not over yet as polls across the nation have seen the gap between Democratic candidate Senator Barack Obama (D–Ill.) and Republican candidate Senator John McCain (R–Ariz.) significantly tightening.
A recent poll (created by CBS News, UWIRE and Chronicle.com) of undergraduates around the nation recognized this excitement and found a very high number of college students planning on voting tomorrow.
Of the 96 percent who said they were registered to vote in the 2008 election, .84 percent said they were definitely going to vote.
“I have paid a lot of attention to this election because it is so much in my face,” said Destiny Ridguard, a sophomore professional writing major. “We are constantly inundated with images and gossip about the candidates. We talk about it in class, at home, even while we work out! It’s all anyone is talking about. Undergraduates nationwide are very informed about this election, and I think that makes us an important voting population. I hope students will get out and vote.”
Maria Mauro, head of the Carnegie Mellon Students for Barack Obama, spoke of the anticipation caused by tightening candidate polls on CNN, BBC, and other media organizations.
“At this point, we’re seeing things tighten up because they always do close to the election,” Mauro said.
Mauro also noted the effect that the financial crisis has had on tightening the gap between the candidates and revealing their differences.
“Obama’s policies have shown leadership and his ability to look at things calmly,” Mauro said.
Tomorrow, students will have the chance to show their opinions.
Carnegie Mellon students, depending on their residence, will either vote on campus or nearby. This year is the first students will be able to vote on campus.
Students who registered to vote with their SMC address will vote in the Alumni Lounge, located on the first floor of the University Center.
“It’s great that Carnegie Mellon was able to work with Allegheny County to make sure that we do have a polling place on campus,” Mauro said. “In terms of convenience, it will be really good for students.”
Students who registered with their SMC address and their street address must go to the voting location designated for their street address. Those locations are as follows: residents living in Doherty Apartments, the Greek Quad, Morewood, Mudge, and Stever will vote at the Central Catholic Gymnasium. Residents in Cathedral Mansions, Neville Co-op, Shady Oak Apartments, and Veronica Apartments will vote at the Rodef Shalom Foyer. Residents in Fairfax will vote at the Synod Hall Auditorium, and residents in London Terrace Apartments, Shirley Apartments, and Webster Apartments will vote at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Blind.
Every poll site in Pennsylvania will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. As long as voters are in line by 8 p.m., they have the right to vote and the polls should stay open.
Students unsure of their polling site can visit www.getout2vote.com where they can also find their registration status.
Gina Casalegno, director of Student Activities at Carnegie Mellon, warned that students who found their voting location on www.411vote.org should recheck where their voting location is.
“People commonly refer to this website to learn about voter registration information, and it has the wrong site for the Alumni Lounge. We’ve called them but I don’t know if that has changed or not,” she said.
Besides the confusion about where to vote, there are other possible problems students may face at the poll site on Election Day.
“We have heard of instances where people registered by the deadline, but they are not coming up on the rolls,” Casalegno said. “We have talked with the County Board of Elections about it, and there was a flood of registrations, but these people will still be able to vote with a provisional ballot.”
Students who find that they are not on the roll should bring a valid form of identification (Carnegie Mellon student identification can be used), go to their designated voting location, and vote using a provisional ballot. Provisional ballot votes will be counted the night of the election.
Mauro cited the trend of early voting at other colleges.
“This year we’re going to see a higher turnout than all previous elections,” Mauro said. “Across the country, at early voting at colleges, people were waiting in line 5, 6, 7 hours.”
Mauro plans to arrive at the polls at 7 a.m. to assure that her vote is cast. She urges others to leave more than enough time to wait in line and to deal with any polling location problems.
Mauro also mentioned the importance of youth and Pennsylvania in this year’s election.
“If Obama does not win Allegheny County, he will not win Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania is key to the election,” Mauro said.
To give students time to vote, Carnegie Mellon has agreed to be a part of the Gone Voting Project, which allows students and employees to take two hours off to vote on Election Day.
“I really believe informed voting is the foundation of a successful democracy and I wholeheartedly support your project!” wrote Indira Nair, vice provost of education at Carnegie Mellon, on the Gone Voting website.
For more information on this project, visit gonevoting.com.
There will be a Election Night Returns Watch Party in the Rangos ballroom on Election Day from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. Students can expect music, food, speakers, and various activities. The returns will be shown on three screens showing CNN, FOX, and MSNBC, and students are encouraged to attend.