Balloting Ends Quietly at Florida Precinct

By Pam Robinson

Nov 4, 2008 9:42pm

ABC News On Campus reporter Marilia Brocchetto blogs: “The polls are closed! The polls are closed!” and as easy as that what seemed the longest day in history to some of the poll workers in Alachua County got a little easier. When 7 p.m. rolled around, Precinct 31, inside the Reitz Student Union, seemed more like a morgue than the battleground it had been just a few hours earlier. Lines in the precincts surrounding the University of Florida were very short, if they existed at all. Precincts 44 and 54, dubbed the busiest by election officials were quiet, almost sad. Like any other election, this one brought with it a sense of relief for some students. When polled Tuesday the majority of the students I spoke to seemed glad that the end was near, at least for the next couple of weeks. “I’m tired of being badgered around by both parties,” said one student who wished to remain anonymous in this situation. It also brought extremely short lines at the polls. The three locations we checked out had waits of 2-3 minutes and in most cases the only wait was the time it took to get your ID out of your wallet. Poll workers in and around UF reported a rush in the morning that brought waits of 10 minutes, but the situation grew quieter throughout the day. This is in part due to the influx of early voting in the county. Of the more than 154,000 registered voters, almost half had voted early. And the number of absentee ballots just kept rising as ballots rolled in at the downtown Supervisor of Elections Office. But some students, like sophomore John Fletcher, wanted his first time as a voter to be as genuine as possible. “It’s my duty as an American to go out and vote, as a citizen. I wanted my first time to be… I don’t know, even wait in line. There is just something about doing it on the day.” Yet for other UF students voting was not so easy; although the majority of students who waited until today to vote had no issues at all, some were turned away. “I have my voter registration card, I have everything, but they won’t let me vote,” cried one student to a poll fairness lawyer. Another student, Mary Lou Pardue was turned away this morning because of her address “First they told me I wasn’t’ registered, and then they told me to go to a different precinct. A 30-minute process that wasted my time.” Pardue did go to her new precinct to vote, though she said had it been like the state-wide elections, she would have just gone home. Several non-partisan and partisan groups set up outside of polling places to insure that issues like these didn’t hinder the electoral process. But then the news came, the news that some students had received text messages that told them to stay home and wait to vote until Wednesday. UF took emergency like steps to remind all of its students it was an erroneous message. “This message is NOT legitimate and it should be ignored. Voting concludes today — Tuesday, Nov. 4 — and polls close at 7 p.m.” warned Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin in a school wide e-mail. Students also did their parts by plastering over their Facebook statuses that voting did indeed end, in just a few hours. And here at Precinct 31 just as poll workers closed off the doors and sealed the last ballots, students started to sprinkle in from all parts of campus to watch the results, and to enjoy what seems to most, the election that will change their lives. And as the representative for Gators for McCain Anthony Colloni puts it, “I know it won’t come down to 1 vote, but in this election the youth vote is specially important.”

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