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UWRF students vote in Wisconsin primary

February 19, 2008

UW-River Falls students braved the cold weather on Tuesday to turn out and vote in the Wisconsin presidential primary in the University Center.

The polling station in the Falls Room of the University Center reported 775 residents and students voted at their station.

“I think it was a good turn out,” Carol Zalusky, an election official, said. “I thought maybe 1000, but you never know.”

The UWRF Student Senate worked hard over the past weeks to pre-register students to vote. They sent out press releases and sent letters to residence halls urging students to vote and set up tables in the University Center and in residence halls where students could pre-register to vote.

“I think our pre-registration efforts helped out a lot,” Craig Witte, director of Legislative Affairs for the Student Senate, said. “It helps establish a pattern of life-long voters. I think that’s huge.”

The Student Senate pre-registered over 500 students to vote and 270 more voters registered on the day of the primary, according to Zaluksy.

Student Senate members and members of various student organizations were on hand to register new voters as they arrived at the University Center polling location.

This is the first year I’ve noticed where there was a significant amount of students helping out,” senior and volunteer Joe Eggers said.

There were lines of students waiting to vote throughout the day, Zalusky said.

“I believe that this election has more moderate and diverse candidates,” UWRF student Hasnain Rahman said.

Students may have been drawn to the polls due to the many issues being brought up by the presidential candidates. Issues such as the war in Iraq and the economic recession may be important to students, Mark Kinders, Public Relations director and Legislative Liason for UWRF, said.

The State of Wisconsin, especially students, has been paying attention to issues,” Kinders said.

Kinders also noted that current polls have show that the Bush administration, the war in Iraq and congress have all been enjoying a popularity rating of less that 25 percent.

“I’ve been disappointed with the current administration for the last seven years and we need change,” senior Katie Bollig said.” It’s important to have a voice in that, and there are candidates that have good ideas for change.”

Presidential election results

Democratic presidential candidate Barak Obama and Republican candidate John McCain came out as the winners in Tuesday’s Wisconsin presidential primary.

More than four times as many people voted in the Democratic party than the Republican party, and the clear winner is Obama,” Kinders said.

The Democrat nominees were close going into the Wisconsin primary. Barack Obama led with 1,281 delegates while Hillary Clinton followed close behind with 1,218 delegates, according to numbers compiled by the Associated Press.

Democrats need 2,025 delegate votes to secure the presidential bid. Obama gained 58 percent of the Democratic vote in Wisconsin beating out Hillary Clinton who took 41 percent of the votes. In Pierce County, Obama won with 3,076 votes while Clinton came out with 2,583.

On Tuesday, Obama hopeful Dave List was on campus handing out flyers urging students to vote.

Part of being a college student is to have a vision of a greater world,” List said, “because us older people tend to be cynical.”

There were few supporters for John McCain and Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.

I know students were active in inviting those individuals to campus; we like to see as many as the candidates represented on campus so the students get to hear all the issues,” Kinders said.

Republican front runner John McCain led with 812 delegates to Mike Huckabee’s 217 going into the Wisconsin Primary. In Wisconsin McCain took 55 percent of the votes with Huckabee trailing behind with 37 percent of the votes. In Pierce County, where UWRF is located, McCain led with 912 votes while Huckabee took only 641, according to the County Clerk of Pierce County.

Once you become of age you have that opportunity to vote,” sophomore Kelsey Anderson said. “You might think you’re not directly affected, but you are.”

Local election results

UWRF faculty members and students were also on the primary ballot running for local government positions.

Rellen Hardtke, a professor in the physics department; Geoffrey Force, a part time professor in the Geography department and student Dustin Pfundheller ran for seats on the River Falls School Board.

“I’ve been concerned with education for a long time. My family thinks education is really important,” Hardtke said.

There were a total of six candidates running for two seats on the school board. The primary election was meant to eliminate two candidates so that there will be only four candidates on the ballot for the April 1 election.

“I’ve been going to the school board meetings, so I know the issues they’re facing right now and in the future,” Hardtke said.

Both Hardtke and Force will advance to the April 1 election. Pfundeheller was eliminated from the election.

Junior Nikki Shonoiki ran for the District 6 county board seat. Shonoiki is co-chair of the Diversity Awareness Committee on campus as well as the Diversity and Women’s Initiative Director on the Student Senate. She also is a member of the Black Student Union on campus.

“I was able to reach out to the student body and convince them that their votes mattered,” Shonoiki said in an email.

Shonoiki received 239 votes to win the election. She received more than the other two candidates combined, Witte said.

“I think its great for the university to have someone from the university, a student, on the [County Board],” Hardtke said. “To finally have a student represent them is fantastic.”