With the date of the Wisconsin primaries moved from April to February this year, Wisconsin suddenly found itself basking in a little more of the political limelight than it has been accustomed to in the past.As one of the most exciting and groundbreaking presidential races in history heated up, Wisconsinites showed that they were eager to let their voices be heard at the polls. Lawrentians shared in this excitement, and efforts by the faculty and staff made the voting process go smoothly for students.
The state favored Senator Barack Obama with 58 percent of the vote over Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 41 percent in the Democratic Party.
In the Republican Party, Senator John McCain was the clear front-runner, with 55 percent of the vote. Governor Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul trailed behind with 37 and 5 percent, respectively. Other candidates showed negligible percentages.
Although numbers are not yet available as to how many Lawrentians voted, over 300 students were transported to the polling stations via Lawrence shuttles, and many others made it to the polls by other means of transportation.
“Lawrence provided rides to and from the polling locations for about 330 students,” said Career Counselor Kelly Cuene, who organized the shuttles. “Volunteer drivers were staff and faculty members from various offices and departments across campus.”
These volunteer drivers, as well as faculty and staff who helped organize student registration at Downer, did an excellent job of helping the election process go smoothly and encouraging students to get involved.
“I was really impressed with how involved the staff got,” said junior Allie-Marie McGuire. Dorothy Wickens, also a junior, agreed. “I was really pleased with how much the faculty and staff were involved with registering students at Downer and driving vans,” said Wickens.
Juniors Cara Yesse and Stephanie Zastrow were surprised and impressed to see the university president encouraging students to vote on their way to lunch.
“Jill Beck was tabling at Lucy’s and asked us if we were voting,” said Yesse and Zastrow, who both voted using absentee ballots.
One of the only main roadblocks in Lawrence’s involvement in the election process was, in fact, a roadblock.
As the Appleton Post Crescent reported, “A railroad car became unhitched Tuesday afternoon, halting a train and blocking several downtown intersections for several hours.”
However, as Associate Professor of English and shuttle driver Tim Spurgin said, “We managed, and everyone seemed to take the delays in stride.”
Overall, the Wisconsin primaries were a good opportunity for Lawrentians to get involved in an exciting election and to feel like their vote made a difference.
“Students were excited that the Wisconsin primary was getting national attention and that we ‘mattered’ in a way we usually don’t in primary season,” said Hiett RHD and shuttle driver Laura Zuege.