Voting not as stressful as last election

Voting went off mostly without a hitch for the 421 students who braved nearly daylong rain to cast ballots on campus yesterday.

Only two paper jams slowed voters at the 13 electronic voting machines in the Union’s Multicultural Lounge.

Unlike the 2004 elections, where lines to vote stretched to the building’s back door and longer, students arrived yesterday in a slow trickle at best. The resulting lines were small – perhaps 15 people at most – and infrequent. Students usually waited no more than 20 minutes to vote.

The whole process was “pretty smooth,” said Lori Hofmann, senior.

“It wasn’t that hard,” she said, and several students interviewed throughout the day shared her view.

The dreary weather might have contributed to the low turnout, albeit one in line with what Wood County expected.

Students would probably be more averse than adults to staying home because of the rain, said Brian Soukup, senior.

“I think if you’re going to vote, you’re going to vote either way,” he said.

Nearly seven hours after polls opened at 6:30 a.m, only around 120 students had voted. But sure enough, as the rain tapered off around 4:30 p.m, lines reached their highest levels.

Provisional ballots were the words of the day – nearly 70 percent of votes at the Union were cast using them. They usually came from students who registered to vote outside of Wood County and did not vote absentee. The state must verify each one of those ballots before they can be included in the official tally, expected three weeks from Tuesday.

A new identification law, requiring a voter to have proof of residency when they vote, also caused minor headaches for some students, causing them to go home and return with a proper ID. There were no serious incidents, however, and most students who weren’t directed to other precincts seemed to be able to vote.

But the day had its share of confusion, as an untold number of students came to the Union to vote but were directed to other precincts in the city. Their votes would be tallied regularly on electronic machines at those locations, as opposed to having to use provisional ballots at the Union.

State law would have allowed the provisional ballots to be casted. Some apparently thought, however, they were required to vote at their precincts and could not cast provisional ballots.

They said a sign reading “Provisional Ballots,” placed over a listing of precincts, confused them further.

It was unclear if poll workers offered uniform instructions regarding the provisional ballot rules, as well as how many students that cloudiness affected.

Several counties around the state experienced problems with their electronic voting machines yesterday, but the Union was spared those problems.

Most local glitches were fixed easily, according to Kevin Gilbertson, a technical rover for the Wood County Board of Elections.

“A lot of the times the poll workers will figure it out themselves,” he said.

Reporter Janeen Morgan contributed to this article.