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The Collegian News Blog

UMass students flock to polls early

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Several UMass students wasted little time taking advantage of the Student Government Association's precinct busing campaign. Around 9:30 a.m. UMass time, more than 20 students rode to Precinct 3, the Immanuel Lutheran Church on North Pleasant Street in Amherst, to cast their ballots.

Precinct constable and UMass alumnus Willie Wheeler, 59, of Amherst commented that most of the early turnout was students.

"[The busing] helps a lot," he said. "It makes it easier for students. They have a lot classes and some of them don't know where the church is, and the youth vote is very important."

Even with the influx of student voters and those of other age groups, Precinct 3's lines moved quickly, getting voters checked in, voted and on their way. Voters often complain about long lines at various Precincts, but Amherst Precincts experienced very little delay in the first few hours of today's election. At Wildwood Elementary School on Strong Street, Precinct 9, the wait time was no more than 20 minutes at any point this morning.

This is not the case in other states, however. Earlier this morning, CNN reported that voters in Richmond, Va., experienced long waits at the polls due to malfunctioning voting machines. Some precincts reported up to 3-hour waits, according to CNN. Click here for complete coverage.

Virginia is crucial state in the election, according to many political news outlets. A Democrat has not carried the historically conservative Commonwealth since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Long lines could discourage some from turning out. Real Clear Politics lists the state as a dead heat at the moment. The 13 votes at stake are crucial for Senator John McCain if he plans to defeat Obama.

The UMass voters who did make it to the polls this morning seemed to be leaning toward Senator Barack Obama. Jarrod Shirley, sophomore, turf grass management major credits Obama's "youth and energy" in earning his vote.

"I feel like the typical president in my lifetime has been an old, white man. And the current president has really made me sway against the Republican party," Shirley said this morning after voting at Precinct 9.
posted by Collegian Staff, 11:10 AM

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