UCSD goes to the polls

    Hundreds of voters overwhelmed on-campus polls on Oct. 7 as students flocked to cast their ballots in California’s special recall election.

    At times throughout the day, the line outside John Muir College’s Half Dome Lounge snaked out of the door and down the sidewalk, causing students to wait over an hour to vote.

    As the polls closed at 8 p.m., more than 100 people were still in line to vote.

    Precinct Inspector Craig Orange announced to the crowd that the polling place would remain open for an additional hour to allow those already in line to cast ballots. Orange pulled a yellow sign from the ground and handed it to the person at the end of the line, marking the last person to arrive before the official end of voting.

    Earl Warren College freshman Jessica Pierson arrived too late to join the long line of voters.

    “”I’m very disappointed,”” Pierson said. “”I really wanted to vote.””

    The speed of voting was hindered by the fact that only two election officials were running the polling place in addition to the inspector. According to Orange, polling places usually employ three or four workers.

    The news of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s projected victory over Gov. Gray Davis was announced to those waiting to vote by students shouting “”Arnold the governator”” and a trumpeter playing “”The Star Spangled Banner”” from Tenaya Hall.

    “”I’m feeling really patriotic because the governator was victorious,”” said Muir freshman Joe Shah, who played the national anthem from his fifth-floor bedroom. “”It’s a great day for California.””

    Muir sophomore Jyoti Gaur waited one hour and 20 minutes to cast her vote against the recall of Davis and for independent candidate Gary Coleman to “”mock the recall.””

    Muir sophomore Jordan Ong felt it was unfair that people were turned away.

    “”It’s like … taking away their constitutional rights,”” he said. “”I think they should [move back the deadline] until midnight.””

    Student interest also extended to the initiatives on the ballot, particularly to Proposition 54, the Classification by Race, Ethnicity, Color, or National Origin initiative. The measure failed by a margin of almost 2-to-1.

    Harish Nandagopal, A.S. vice president external and a leader in the UCSD campaign against the proposition, said he will not be surpised if the author of Prop. 54, UC Regent Ward Connerly, tries to pass a similar initiative in a future election.

    “”We’ll just have to be ready and hope that we can go on the offense in the future than just trying to keep things in the status quo. But we’ll be ready for it,”” Nandagopal said.

    Bob Pennisi, division chief of voter services at the San Diego Registrar of Voters, said that the countywide turnout of 64.5 percent of registered voters was not a record, but certainly reached presidential election levels.

    “”The interest that started from day one seemed to lead toward a big turnout,”” Pennisi said on Oct. 8. “”The counting went well last night. No glitches. And from what I’m seeing statewide, it was pretty smooth.””

    Orange estimated that over 750 ballots were cast at UCSD’s only polling place. Another 100 or so absentee ballots were deposited as well.

    San Diego County uses outdated punch card ballots, which can produce inaccurate readings if not fully punched.

    “”The voters or myself look at every ballot that is cast, and if there’s any chad, we ask the voter to remove it,””Orange said.

    As the last voter left the polls at 9 p.m., Orange let out a sigh. He and the other poll workers had been on the job since 5:30 a.m. and earned about $75 each for the day.

    “”I don’t know when I’ve been so tired in my life,”” poll worker Kathy Orange said as she disassembled the portable voting booths.

    Craig Orange, who normally works in precincts made up of older voters, complimented the UCSD students.

    “”This is a bunch of fabulous young people,”” he said.

    As of Oct. 9 and with 100 percent of precincts reporting, the recall of Davis succeeded with 55.4 percent of the vote. Schwarzenegger won 48.7 percent of the vote to replace Davis and Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante garnered 31.7 percent of the vote.

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