Election Day draws student voters



Election Day was in full swing on campus Tuesday at UW-Eau Claire, with polls opening in Davies Center at 7 a.m. and students throughout the building sporting red and blue stickers, proclaiming, “I Voted.”

After going back and forth on Voter ID, months of political advertising and debating on issues like minimum wage and job growth, midterm elections arrived. Citizens across Wisconsin were encouraged to go to their designated polling place and cast their ballot in the neck-and-neck gubernatorial race, as well as for members of Congress. On campus, the push to rock the vote was as strong as ever.

Paul Soulier, senior, said he was the third person at the polls in Davies.

“I really feel like you have the be one of the first few people to vote,” he said. “It’s our civic duty and it should be everyone’s goal to vote during elections.”

Soulier is not alone in his excitement to vote. On the campus mall, both the Eau Claire College Republicans and the Eau Claire College Democrats set up shop, encouraging students to vote not only for their candidate, but in general. While the Democrats set up a tent decked out in American flags and posters for gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, the Republicans across the sidewalk approached students as they walked by.

Legally, both have to be 100 feet away from a polling place to promote their party’s candidates, and Nick Bursaw, a volunteer for the College Democrats, said they measured to be sure they were not breaking the law.

“We made sure to look it up, and we are anywhere from 150 feet to 200 feet,” Bursaw said. “(The campus mall) is where everyone is, so it’s where we want to be. This is the one day we as students and as citizens of America get to represent ourselves and voice our own opinions.”

Both Bursaw and Jonathan Wiser, of the College Republicans, said getting students to vote in the first place was their main goal, perhaps even more so than getting students to vote for their particular candidate.

“Regardless of your beliefs, it’s important that you get out and support democracy,” Wiser said.

The College Republicans also welcomed to campus 3rd Congressional District candidate Tony Kurtz (R) , who is running against longtime representative Ron Kind (D). He said he was traveling to college campuses around the state, encouraging students to vote.

“I don’t know what it is, but Republicans are afraid to come to campuses,” he said. “We’ve got to be on the campuses. We’d be amiss if we didn’t do that.”

Students off campus are also getting to the polls, with stations at Lake Street United Methodist Church and Salem Baptist Church, among others.

Johnny Golmar, a senior, said although he did not vote for either of the major candidates, he feels his vote is important.

“I’m so content,” Golmar said of his post-voting experience. “Voting is important. We went at 9 a.m. and it was just all old people and (my girlfriend and me).”

In early predictions, according to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, 2.5 million people would vote, about 56.5 percent of the voting-age population in the state.