Registration measures and few reported problems helped move voting along smoothly on an Election Day that drew crowds of students whose votes largely reflected the end results of the election.
According to Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, the University of Wisconsin campus turnout was between 65 and 66 percent, a number slightly lower than the 2008 presidential election.
Gordon Commons had a 74 percent turnout, the highest for campus polling places, with 742 ballots cast for former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., and 1,207 for President Barack Obama. Madison Fresh Market received a similar turnout, allocating 578 ballots to Romney and 1,412 to Obama. With a 70 percent voter turnout, Porchlight Inc. received 683 ballots for Romney and 1,827 for Obama.
Memorial Union and Memorial Library experienced slightly lower voter turnouts. Memorial Union had 216 ballots cast for Romney and 710 cast for Obama with a 60 percent turnout, and Memorial Library had 249 ballots cast for Romney and 661 cast for Obama with a 56 percent voter turnout.
Ultimately, the results mirrored the nation’s and supported another four years for Obama.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said the vast majority of UW students registered prior to showing up at the polls, an increase from prior years.
“I’ve been very impressed with the large number of students that pre-registered more than any other of the previous elections I worked,” Verveer said. “Voter turnout has been awesome.”
Adam Young, Madison chief inspector for the Gordon Commons polling location, said more than 90 percent of students at the polls had pre-registered, a number he called “unbelievable.” He added pre-registration efforts online have proven to be very helpful in keeping the polling process efficient.
Verveer said in previous elections, poll workers had to deny voters because of registration problems. This problem was virtually nonexistent this year, partially as a result of increased early registration.
According to Resnick, early registration helped to get names into the poll book, which in turn shortened lines at polling places.
Pre-registration efforts helped to keep voting lines relatively small throughout the day, Resnick added.
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., said amid widespread confusion about registration that spans the nation, Wisconsin volunteers excelled in getting the word out to students on how to complete the process. She also noted same-day registration is beneficial to voters.
“I do think it’s great we still have registration the same day as the election,” Baldwin said. “It supports people who haven’t gotten to do it earlier.”
Resnick said he disagreed that same-day registration is complicated for students, noting voters were permitted to use smartphones to pull up necessary documents at the polling site for the first time in election history. Verveer added voters at the Gordon Commons polling site did not even need to use their smartphones, because registration workers at the polling station used laptops to retrieve voter information.
Problems at polling places were reportedly low, according to Resnick. The only reported issues involved some students who forgot their social security numbers, he added.
Rudy Moore, chief inspector at the Doyle Administration polling center, said despite a steady flow of student voters throughout the day, issues with casting ballots, voter registration and voter identification did not come up.
According to poll worker Dan Hudson, some students did face problems verifying their addresses with acceptable documents, but once laptops were set up, poll workers were able to obtain the information. He also noted some students arrived at the wrong polling location but were easily directed to the correct locations.
Students at the polls named a variety of issues that prompted them to vote.
While UW sophomore Collin Sunde said the state of the economy drove his vote, freshman Jodi Stern said she is most passionate about health care.
Sophomore Danielle Maciver said she thinks voting for college students is critical because the winning candidate has a say in students’ futures. She said she almost did not vote but decided to vote after hearing fewer and fewer people were not voting nationwide.
Students said they felt the election was their opportunity to impact their futures and get their voices heard. Junior Phillip Debbink said the election means four years of what is hopefully change and hope, especially for students.
McKenzi Higgins contributed to this report.