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Voters face several decisions at polls

November 2, 2006

On Election Day, Americans across the country will exercise their right to vote.

UW-River Falls is no exception.

As students prepare to hit the polls and make their opinions known, they are faced with a barrage of political propaganda while having to make major decisions.

On a national level, the Iraq war is something that affects everyone, while the marriage amendment will only directly impact Wisconsin residents.

UWRF political science professor Neil Kraus is sure the future of the Iraq war will change, despite the results of Election Day.

“I believe that regardless of the election outcomes, there will be more talk of some sort of timetable for U.S. involvement in Iraq,” he said.

While Kraus said democratic victories would not mean leaving the war, he is certain that if the donkey takes over Congress there will be change in Iraq.

“One thing that will happen very quickly if the democrats take over Congress is more oversight of contracting in Iraq, which means having hearings on the subject,” he said.

“Republicans have basically refused to look very closely at U.S. contracted policies in Iraq, even though the major media has exposed the numerous problems of waste, fraud and abuse of contractors there.”

The future of the Iraq war is one issue that concerns first-year voter Laura Behrend.

Though the 19-year-old UWRF sophomore may vote, she is not 100 percent clear on what the subjects on the ballot mean.

“I am not too informed about the issues,” Behrend said. “It is kind of confusing to me. It seems like there are so many sides to everything right now.”

Despite being overwhelmed by election issues, the Madison native is thinking about her decision on the marriage amendment.

“I would vote against it probably,” she said.

In voting against the marriage amendment, Behrend said she disagrees with the two-sentence bill that states, “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage or unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.”

Though UWRF junior Nate Kirchner, 20, is a Minnesota voter, he said he does not want to see religion being used in battles such as the marriage amendment.

“I am tired of all the religious wars motivating decisions regarding women’s rights and other things,” said Kirchner, who is an atheist.

Aside from the religious aspect of the amendment, Kraus has an opinion on the effect of the bill on Wisconsin if it passes.

“The impact of the marriage amendment is difficult to determine, particularly because the second sentence of the amendment is not clear,” he said. “One thing is for sure – it can’t be challenged in the courts because it will be a part of the Constitution.”

For Stacy Solberg of the UWRF College Republicans, passing the marriage amendment, among other issues, is necessary.

“The crucial issues to this campus and College Republicans include rocketing tuition prices, high property taxes, outsourcing of Wisconsin jobs to other states and ensuring that marriage continues to be between a man and a woman,” she said.

In working to accomplish election goals, College Republicans have taken an active role.

“We helped Kitty Rhodes pass out Ramen Noodles to the poor, malnourished students here, and have met Congressman Mark Green and worked with other College Republican chapters around the state,” Solberg said.

While the UWRF College Republicans have not “taken any direct ‘get out the vote’ efforts,” they do want students to vote and help them win a major victory.

“Governor Doyle and his administration have been undeniably corrupt and we want UWRF students to vote to rid Madison of the corruption and incompetence of Governor Doyle,” Solberg said.

Tom Friant, a member of the College Democrats, took a step back from political opinions this election as he registered “roughly 50 students to vote.”

“I do not feel that I should voice my personal political opinions because my duties require a non-biased presentation,” said the 20-year-old UWRF junior.

After numerous attempts to reach the College Democrats about their election issues, deadline was met with no reply.

Although the UWRF Student Senate does not openly share the opinions of either the College Republicans or College Democrats, the organization’s primary objective is to “get voters out to the polls,” Senate President Joe Eggers said.

Rachele Rogers is one student the Senate will not have to get to the polls.

The 19-year-old sophomore is “excited” for her first chance at voting, but she thinks it is a private matter.

“I definitely think it’s important,” said Rogers, who has already registered to vote. “It is a personal choice. While I will encourage my friends to vote, I definitely won’t push the issue.”

In Kirchner’s case, getting to the polls is first an act of memory.

“If I remember, the plan is yes,” he said when speaking about his decision to vote.

The business administration major does have one problem with voting at age 20 though.

“None of the candidates give a shit about us,” Kirchner said of college students.

While candidates may disagree with Kirchner’s logic, the polls will be open on Election Day for anyone to voice their opinion.