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Long and Busy Election Day

  • http-blogs-fandm-edu-wp-content-blogs-dir-29-files-2012-04-electionday1-jpg
  • The line of students waiting to vote snaked through the ASFC. The wait averaged one and a half hours.

     
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  • Student voters before (on right) and after (on left).

Mary Alice Scott ’10 never stopped on Election Day.

From the moment she jumped out of bed at 6:20 a.m. to the moment she landed at Sustainability House late Tuesday evening, Scott ran.

The student intern for F&M Votes and the head of the College Democrats was working the polls, getting her fellow students to vote and trying to deal with any potential problems.

When asked midday if she thought the election was going to the Democrats, she refused to answer so as not to jinx a potential victory. And she is not even superstitious.

By Wednesday evening, after catching up on her sleep, she said she felt as if she were in a dream.

“I feel amazing. I feel proud. Proud of Pennsylvania, of my fellow students, of F&M Votes and of my home state of Virginia,” Scott said.

Franklin & Marshall College buzzed with political activity on Election Day.

Students lined up for as much as a two-hour wait to vote in the Alumni Sports and Fitness Center. Faculty members volunteered as poll workers to keep the line moving.

Undeterred by the long wait, students skipped classes, missed appointments and waited for their chance to vote. At 11 a.m., the line at ASFC started outside and snaked its way through the lobby, down the hallway to the lower track and onto the basketball courts.

“We joked about giving up, but this election is far too important,” said Henry Fandel ’10.

Robert Battistini, assistant professor of English, and Laurie Baulig, adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Business, Organizations and Society, saved the day. Only one election clerk was available to verify registration, which was causing the long wait. Battistini and Baulig stepped up to be sworn in as election clerks.

For Barbara Sasso ’09, the opportunity to vote in this election kept her in line. Even if she had to miss an upcoming class, she said, in 20 years she won’t remember that class, but she will remember this vote.

“No matter what decision we make it will mean change for our country,” Sasso said.

“This will determine the course we take as a country over the next century,” added Steve Barsamian ’09.

Numbers

By the end of the day, 1,532 votes were cast at the ASFC, including 1,164 votes for Democratic Party presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and his running mate, U.S. Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware; 358 for Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin; 4 for Ralph Nader, an independent candidate; and 6 for Libertarian candidate and former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia. That number also includes about 500 members of the local community, unaffiliated with the College, who voted there.

Of the votes recorded at the ASFC, some 1,000 of those votes came from F&M students, according to Lisa Stillwell, co-chair of the F&M Votes Coalition and deputy College librarian.

“We are so proud of our student voters. This was an amazing turnout and a fabulously successful Election Day,” Stillwell said. “We are thrilled with the support from the County Board of Elections and the poll staff at the precinct.”

Fourty-three faculty members, staff and students volunteered with F&M Votes to hand out brownies, candy and cookies in the atrium of the Steinman College Center in an effort to encourage students to vote (or to reward them for having done so).

Election Day Break

While the campus outside buzzed, Berwood Yost sat quietly in his office enjoying an ever so brief moment of repose.

“Since the campaigns are perpetual, tomorrow we start talking about the gubernatorial campaign and the U.S. Senate campaigns in 2010. I’m ready for this one to be over,” said Yost, director of the Floyd Institute’s Center for Opinion Research and adjunct instructor of Government.

Since January, the Center for Opinion Research has conducted 13 election polls, including seven state polls, three national polls and three congressional district polls.

Here are some more numbers:


  • The center’s summary poll reports included 44,383 words and totaled 233 pages.
  • The center’s interviewing staff, which at its most active included 100 staff, called 188,557 phone numbers.
  • The center’s interviewing staff made 381,494 phone calls.
  • The center’s interviewing staff completed 11,344 surveys.
  • The center’s interviewing staff spent 138,320 minutes on the phone talking to respondents.

Technically speaking, Yost admitted, the presidential election is not over. The media analysis won’t be finished until early next year. Yost and G. Terry Madonna, director of the center, study how many times F&M was mentioned in newsprint outlets during the election season.

Between Jan., 1, 2006, and Dec. 31, 2007, center staff identified 1,526 stories in 2006 and 1,562 stories in 2007 that included the search terms Franklin & Marshall College or Keystone Poll (the former title of the Franklin & Marshall College Poll). In both years, stories about the College most often covered either sports or the Keystone Poll.

“I don’t know how many times more in coverage this year. It gives us a sense of how much coverage the poll and the college received,” Yost said.

But at least for Tuesday, there was some quiet in his office.

“There is always the next campaign,” Yost said. “That is the relief and the agony of it.”

Disappointed, but hopeful

President of the College Republicans Steve Kielt ’10 spent most his Election Day at Republican Headquarters on Columbia Avenue in Lancaster, and encouraging students to get out and vote Republican. The F&M GOP handed out literature at a table in the atrium of the Steinman College Center and in front of the ASFC.

“Obviously we’re disappointed,” by the result of the election, said Kielt, “but we are looking forward to this year and a chance to rebuild the party.”

The College Republicans, which has nearly 100 members according to their Facebook page, hope to ramp up their activity this coming year by holding symposia and inviting speakers to campus.

“We want to take an active role in rebuilding the party during its time in the wilderness,” said Kielt.

At the end of a long day


After the polls closed, Scott wearily walked across campus to Sustainability House, where she sat nervously with friends to watch the returns.

At around 11 p.m., she said, when it was clear Obama had won, her phone buzzed with congratulatory text messages.

“I feel like it was my generation, us, that changed the direction of this election,” Scott said. “We changed the direction of our country.”