Possible explanation for fewer votes at Marshall Student Center

The mystery of how more than 700 students could have cast ballots in Tuesday’s election at the Marshall Student Center precinct but failed to vote in the presidential race might have been solved. The students did vote for a president candidate, but Hillsborough County election officials posted inaccurate information.
The Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections office posted results early Wednesday morning that counted 1,400 ballots cast, but claimed only 659 of those voted in the presidential election.
A representative from the Barack Obama campaign, lawyer Sharon Samek, said that since the ballot was two pages, the scanning machines could have counted each page as its own ballot — making it appear that twice as many people voted as actually did. It would make it look like only half of those who voted cast their vote in the presidential race, as the Oracle reported Wednesday.

The Supervisor of Elections was unable to confirm or deny the possibility, despite multiple phone conversations.
For the full story, see Monday’s Oracle.


Results show 700 didn’t vote for president
By Amy Mariani, News Editor
Wednesday, November 5, 2008

About 1,400 people voted at the Marshall Student Center polling station Tuesday, reflecting the nation by choosing Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama as president and but going against the state by overwhelmingly rejecting Amendment 2.

Precinct statistics indicate that only 659 people voted in the presidential race at the polling station — meaning more than 700 people did not. The station covers precincts 353 and 352.

Political analyst and professor Susan MacManus said these are alarming statistics, calling them abnormal but not specifying how.

“There’s something not quite clicking,” she said. “Most people are going to vote at the top-of-the-ticket race.”

Supervisor of Elections for Hillsborough County Buddy Johnson said he did not have the individual precinct numbers in front of him. He did not say whether the statistics were accurate.

“We’re finishing the tabulations and that information is not available by now,” he said at 1:15 this morning. “But we will be sure to count every vote that was cast.”

In the presidential race, 456 people voted for Obama, defeating Sen. John McCain’s 195 votes.

Many students said they voted for Obama because they wanted a change in Washington.

Paul Baldwin, a freshman majoring in history, is a registered Republican but voted against his party by casting his ballot for Obama.

“I’m tired of Republicans — how they’ve handled everything,” he said. “It’s time for a change.”

For Jude Lucien, Obama represents the fight for the middle-class citizen.

“I graduate in December, and Obama is going to have tax cuts for the middle class — which I will be a part of,” said the senior communications major.

For some students, picking a candidate was a close call.

Mike Yeager, a senior majoring in biology, said that for him it was a choice between the lesser of two evils. He voted for Obama.

“I don’t really like Obama either,” he said. “It’s about who do I think will run the country into the ground less fast.”

Student Blake Thaxter voted for McCain, but it was a tough decision for him as well. Though Thaxter said he likes Obama’s health care plan, he found McCain more fiscally responsible.

“I’m a Republican, so I voted Republican,” he said.

For sophomore Ellen O’Connell, it was McCain’s vice-presidential pick, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, that clinched her decision.

“I was on the fence for John McCain, but when he picked Sarah Palin as the V.P. I was out,” said the music major. “I think she is too inexperienced, and I don’t think we need that woman in the White House.”

Other students voted for McCain because of his experience and because his platform aligned with their beliefs.

Ricardo Sagarra, a freshman majoring in accounting, said he voted for McCain based on his economic policy and experience.

“McCain has served this country more time as a POW than Obama has as a senator,” he said.

Amendment 2 was also defeated at the USF polling station, with 62 percent of voters casting against it. This contrasts with rest of the state, which voted to define marriage as between one man and one woman. To be written into Florida’s constitution, an amendment must pass with a 60 percent or greater approval.

Some students voted for the amendment because it aligned with their views.

“I believe marriage is between a man and a woman,” Sagarra said.

Baldwin voted against the amendment and said that it wasn’t fair to limit the definition of marriage.

“It’s like saying black people can’t get married,” he said.

Some people came out not to vote but to support and encourage those waiting in the three-and-a-half to four-hour lines.

Dannette Flores, a freshman majoring in biomedical science, set up her laptop with speakers and started playing music.

And Barbara Kazanis, a retired USF professor of 29 years, came back to USF yesterday to encourage students to wait out the lines.

“We thought that the older generation would be important to encourage young people,” she said.

With additional reporting from Coralis Aguilar, Shivani Alamo, Martin Bater, Marilyn Bistline, Amaris Castillo, Kimberly Fehr, Hannah Feig, Julia Pappacoda, Shelley Rossetter and Jennifer L. White.