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2,161 voters cast ballots at University Center

November 4, 2008

A large contingent of voters made up of UW-River Falls students and River Falls residents turned out on Tuesday to cast their ballots for the 2008 election in the Riverview Ballroom of the University Center.
 
In local elections, Democratic incumbent Ron Kind defeated Republican Paul Stark in the race for District 3 U.S. Congress. In Wisconsin State Senate District 10, Republican Sheila Harsdorf was victorious over Democrat Alison Page and Republican incumbent Kitty Rhoades beat her Democratic challenger Sarah Bruch to win the Wisconsin State Assembly District 30 seat.

Carol Zalusky, chief election inspector at the Riverview Ballroom polling location, said that as of 10:30 a.m., approximately 535 people had voted at that polling place. By noon there were more than 900 voters who had shown up to vote throughout the day.

That number climbed to 1,235 by 2:15 p.m., and when the polls closed at 8 p.m., the final voter turnout was 2,161. In addition to those who voted in person, Zalusky said she also counted 180 absentee ballots.

“There are about 3,000 people eligible to vote in this district [District 2],” she said. “Probably 2,000 of those people are students living on campus.”

Although some voters waited in line for more than an hour, Zalusky said that there were no major problems at the UC polling location.

“We had some problems with people being at the wrong polling location, but nothing out of the ordinary,” she said. “For the most part, the [voting] machines worked OK.”

Seventy-one percent of District 2 voters used the traditional paper ballots, while 29 percent opted to use the electronic voting machines. UWRF student Jubilynn Hanka was one voter who chose to use a paper ballot, and said she thought things went well.

“Besides waiting in line for an hour to vote, everything went fine,” she said. “All of the people working were very helpful and did a great job making sure everything went smoothly.”

Sophomore Jessica Rische agreed, and said “everything went fine” and that she had “no problems” voting.

Kelsey Ryan, also a student at UWRF, said that she wished there would have been more information on registering to vote.

“Most of the information I’ve seen about registering to vote has been about different states, so I wish they would put out more information for people to learn how to register in Wisconsin,” she said.

Zalusky and other poll workers began counting the ballots shortly after 8 p.m., and around 8:30 p.m., most major TV networks were reporting that Sen. Barack Obama had won both Wisconsin and Minnesota. Although not an issue at the Riverview Ballroom polling place, many polling locations in both states still had voters waiting in line to vote hours after the polls officially closed.

At approximately 10 p.m., most major news outlets announced Obama as the 44th president of the United States, with 297 Electoral College votes at that time and 52 percent of the popular vote.

UWRF campus media continued to cover the election, with “Valley Vote” appearing on Campus TV (channel 19) at 8:30 p.m. Hosts Mallory Macal and Andy Murphy were joined by River Falls Mayor Don Richards and UWRF Public Affairs Director Mark Kinders to provide election results and analysis for the national, state and local races.