Not intimidated by long lines or distance, students made their political choices known at the polls on Tuesday.
McNeely Hall’s Great Room filled with a constant stream of voters, comprised mostly of students living on north campus mixed with other locals. Precinct election judge Martha Wilson said that she did not expect such a high turnout from students.
“I’m impressed. I think I’ve seen 250 students so far, and it’s not even noon,” Wilson said. “It seems that for every one adult citizen there’s at least seven or eight St. Thomas students.”
The poll lines saw a burst of students over convocation hour, creating long lines that nearly led outside of McNeely. Wilson said that some students voiced confusion over the registration process, a factor that may have contributed to the wait.
“There was redistricting. Some of the information that went to the St. Thomas students at first didn’t include the redistricting. We’ve been helping them out, but a surprising number of students didn’t know their address or zip code,” Wilson said. McNeely Hall was the polling place for Ward 4, Precinct 6 in St Paul.
Junior Rachel Hanson said that the process was more of a hassle than she anticipated for an off-campus student, but her experience encouraged her to register in advance in the future.
“I registered today, and that took me much longer than I thought it would. Now I have to wait for my roommates so that I can vouch for them,” Hanson said. “I was jealous of the on-campus students because all they had to do was visit a guy with a list.”
Many students had a positive reaction to how the university handled student registration for on-campus students. Freshman Loic Attikossie said that the voting process only took him about 20 minutes, and he appreciated that he could vote on-campus instead of returning home.
“This just made it really easy. My name was on the list and I was able to put in my voice. The longest part was waiting in line,” Attikossie said.
Junior Kelsey Arnst voted in the gubernatorial election two years ago, but she said that the campus was much more alive for the presidential race.
“This is way more intense. Last time, the polls were mild,” Arnst said. “I think students are much more excited about this election, and you can tell with the activity in McNeely.”
Students living on South Campus voted at Ward 4, Precinct 7 at Groveland Elementary School on St. Clair Avenue. Despite the seven-block trip from campus, the Groveland election judge said that the St. Thomas community had a large showing of students, most voting before 9 a.m.
Aside from a bike ride, freshman Nick Lubansky said that the university made the experience a quick process even for those at the alternate location.
“I hadn’t registered before, but I came in and filled out a form. Campus made this really easy for me, so I imagine this would easy for everyone,” Lubansky said. “ I’m glad that South Campus is zoned differently because it would be really busy with the whole campus voting at one place.”
Anastasia Straley can be reached at email@example.com.