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Reporter Allie Mayer talked to President Amy Gutmann about voter turnout and how the election can affect Penn.

Credit: Allie Mayer , Kyle Bryce-Borthwick

More than 3,500 student voters turned out to polling places on Penn’s campus Tuesday.

At on-campus polling locations — which included Harnwell, Hill and Harrison college houses, Houston Hall, Vance Hall, Civic House and the Penn Care and Rehabilitation Center — 3,697 votes were cast, which does not include the more than 200 votes that were cast provisionally.

26435_fixedstudentvotingo.pngThis is down slightly from 3,833 in 2008. On-campus polling locations in 2008 included David Rittenhouse Lab, Steinberg-Dietrich Hall, Houston Hall, the Penn Care and Rehabilitation Center and Harrison and Harnwell.

Yesterday, voters on campus cast 2,844 ballots for President Barack Obama and 746 for Gov. Mitt Romney, giving Obama 77 percent of the total on-campus vote. Some students also voted at off-campus locations, including the Free Library of Philadelphia at 40th and Walnut streets and Fairfax Apartments at 43rd and Locust streets.

With 91 percent of precincts reporting as of 2 a.m. Wednesday, 8,833 people voted for president in West Philadelphia’s Ward 27, which includes campus.

Groups such as Penn Leads the Vote, Penn Democrats and College Republicans had been encouraging students to register and vote for months before Election Day. Penn President Amy Gutmann got in on the act as well, asking students to vote in a Daily Pennsylvanian guest column Monday.

“I think Penn students are turning out in great numbers,” Gutmann said as she finished voting at Vance Hall Tuesday evening. “I think the most important part of this election, and almost every election moving forward that should really motivate college students to vote, is that the turnout is going to make a difference.”

Philadelphia Mayor and 1976 Wharton graduate Michael Nutter agreed.
“There seemed to be a tremendous amount of enthusiasm by young people and college students all across the city of Philadelphia and I’m sure that that’s a big part of the president’s win,” he said.

College senior David Weiss, an executive board member and Election Day chair of PLTV, said he was pleased with the student turnout. He partially credited the turnout to PLTV’s get-out-the-vote efforts.

Throughout the day Tuesday, PLTV members called students who had yet to show up to vote, staffed polling places and manned information stations to answer students’ questions about how and where to vote.

College freshman and first-time voter Sheila Shankar said she had been waiting for this day since the 2008 election. She voted for Obama.

“I feel that I have a voice,” she said. “I can vote for what I believe in and I can make a difference.”

Though excitement was high for many on campus, some saw it as more subdued than in 2008.

“I think people were in the election spirit, but there probably wasn’t as much energy as in previous elections,” College freshman Neil Gade said.

Gade voted for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson for president, since he wasn’t satisfied with either of the major party candidates.
“I went into the booth not sure of who to vote for,” Gade said. “It was a complicated decision.”

While some poll workers and voters also complained about the use of provisional ballots, others were impressed about how easy the voting process was. At about 9:30 a.m., College junior Jeremy Berman crossed the turnstile into the Harrison lobby wearing only a pair of boxer shorts. Some volunteers working at the polls laughed.
“This is so exciting,” Berman told one volunteer, as he went into a booth.

After voting, Berman, who is also a first-time voter, said, “I love the convenience of being able to vote in my apartment. When else would I be able to do this?”

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