Voting slow at UDCC

Rebecca Carton

Voting at Ames’ Ward 4 Precinct 5 for the City Council election at the Union Drive Community Center was quiet Tuesday.

The precinct saw only four people vote before noon; only one of whom was an ISU student.

Joyce Carney, Clyde Thogmartin and Lawrence Lyons, citizens of Ames and administrators at the precinct, said this was common for voting done at the UDCC, which all were familiar with.

“We’ve all worked this precinct before,” Thogmartin said.

The last election they had worked there had seen very few voters as well.

“The school board election had one [voter],” he said.

Carney said a lot of students tend not to vote in city elections and the majority of students who do vote are most likely the ones who have an apartment in the area.

“A lot of them probably keep official residence at home,” she said. “If they know people from home, they’ll be more likely to vote for them.”

In any case, low voter turnout at the UDCC was not a surprise to the administrators.

“We never have very many out here,” Lyons said.

Regardless of the slow start, the administrators have the precinct all day. They said they worked the polls from 6 a.m. and will continue to do so until after the polls close at 8 p.m.

“We’ll probably be here until 9 or we might be gone at 8:30,” Carney said.

The administrators said although it makes for a long day, time can fly with more activity.

“It goes faster when a lot of people come to vote,” Lyons said.

Carney agreed, but said she was not expecting a huge turnout.

“We hope there will be more voters, but I don’t expect a lot,” she said.

Carney has been working elections in the city since 1980. Although she did not expect a lot of voter turnout at the precinct, she said, at least in the UDCC, there were “people coming and going.”

She also mentioned working other precincts in the past in which the administrators played cards and piano in order to pass the time.

“I guess students didn’t vote much then either,” she said.

The administrators said they had already voted in the election, but not in the precinct they were working. Carney voted absentee within the precinct that she lives.

“Normally, if we voted here we would vote first to see if the machine works,” Carney said.

At times, the room in the UDCC had so little activity that the lights turned off due to lack of motion in the room. In between discussing the weather and reading books, the administrators periodically walked around the room in order to set off the motion detectors, turning on the lights so they didn’t have to wait in darkness for more voters to come.

At one point, a voter who had shown up at the UDCC had to be turned away because he was in the wrong precinct.

“That happens more here than anywhere,” Carney said.

One voter who did stop at Precinct 5 was ISU President Gregory Geoffroy. Geoffroy said he voted because “it’s a responsibility to be a citizen in our community and in our nation.”

Jessica Meredith, senior in construction engineering, also cast a ballot at the UDCC on Tuesday. She said the reason she voted for her candidate was because the candidate had similar views on important issues such as Campustown and the new mall in Ames.

“It’s important to vote for people who have the same feelings as you,” she said.

Benjamin Kayser, junior in history, said he voted because he believes local politics are important.

“We should try to vote in local elections because those will have the greater impact on students,” he said. “I pick the candidates that help the students the most.”