Election 2012: Record number of students vote in UC

Credit: Jonathan Carreon/Photo Editor Credit: Jonathan Carreon/Photo Editor Credit: Jonathan Carreon/Photo Editor Credit: Jonathan Carreon/Photo Editor

A record-breaking number of Carnegie Mellon students showed up at the polls this year. Students cast 1,445 votes at polling locations on Carnegie Mellon’s campus, a leap from the 1,140 votes cast in the 2008 election.

This increase in voter turnout did not necessarily mean greater enthusiasm for the election, but was due in part to the increased number of voters on campus. In 2008, there were 2,153 registered voters at Carnegie Mellon; this year, there were 3,269.

Thus, the percentage of voter turnout actually decreased from 52.5 percent in 2008 to 44.2 percent in 2012, according to the Allegheny County Pennsylvania Election Detail District Report.

According to that same report, 1,724 Carnegie Mellon students voted for President Barack Obama, 368 voted for Republican candidate Mitt Romney, 57 voted for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, and 18 voted for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

Compared to the 2008 elections, Obama did not have as great of a lead among Carnegie Mellon students in this election. In 2008, Obama accrued 83.41 percent of the Carnegie Mellon vote, leaving Senator John McCain with 13.28 percent of the vote for those who did not vote a straight party ticket.

This year, Obama received 78.69 percent of the campus vote, and Romney received 17.23 percent. The percentages for those who voted straight party remained similar.

Students emerging from the voting booths expressed their enthusiasm in voting for their respective candidates.

“I voted for Obama because Mitt Romney seems like the king of contradictions, and Obama clearly has a good track record in terms of recovering the economy, in terms of social issues for gay rights and women. When he spoke on campus [last summer], he said he would take the gloves off and not be as compromising as he was in the first two years,” said Michael Hadida, a fifth-year architecture major.

Students who voted for Romney based on his economic plan were disappointed with Obama’s re-election. First-year undeclared Dietrich College student Laurnie Wilson said, “I mostly voted for Romney because I didn’t like how the current economic state has evolved under the Obama administration. I’m disappointed that Romney lost, but I wasn’t necessarily surprised.”

Reid Sherard, senior decision science and Chinese double major, said, “I voted for Romney to vote against Obama, because I didn’t like his economic plans. I think adding $4 trillion to the national deficit is a sign of mismanagement despite how the rest of the economy is doing. I liked Romney’s rhetoric on cutting the national debt because I think we can’t be spending $4 trillion of my children’s money; it’s only going to lead to a bigger economic problem than what we have now.”

Some students, however, made their decisions based on Obama’s social views, and were excited for another four years of his presidency.

Michelle Couste, a sophomore civil and environmental engineering major, said, “I know that the economy is improving, and I think Obama is doing a decent job. I agree with him on more of the social issues than Romney. Despite being a Catholic, I’m pro-gay marriage, and I support his other social issues. I wasn’t positive that Obama would win because it was definitely close, but I’m happy that he won.”

Students showed up to support both Obama and Romney at an election results viewing event co-hosted by the student body president and vice president and Activities Board Political Speakers in Rangos Hall last Tuesday.

Student Body Vice President Meela Dudley, a senior professional writing and creative writing double major who identified herself as a right-leaning centrist, predicted that the election would come down to the swing states of Florida and Ohio.

Dudley said that she voted on the basis of social, not fiscal issues. “I tend to believe that I prioritize the social issues.... After the second debate, it became clear that neither candidate had a solid [economic] plan. Each kept on saying ‘I’m going to fix it, I’m going to fix it,’ so that’s become less important to me, and I’ve been focusing more on social issues,” she said.

Luke Sampson, a first-year biology and economics double major, and Taylor Maggiacomo, a first-year chemistry major, both wore matching red “Keep calm and vote for Romney” shirts to the viewing party. Sampson referenced Romney’s economic policies as the reason he chose to vote Republican. “His economic policy I agree with more than Obama’s; it seems the reason I really stayed Republican was that I just tend to agree with the Republican point of view more than the Democratic point of view,” he said.

Kevin Apolo, a first-year mechanical engineering major wearing a button supporting Obama, cited the President’s policies toward college students as a reason for voting for him. “I probably wouldn’t be in college because of the loans that I had to pay later on if it wasn’t for some of the things he implemented,” Apolo said.

Despite clashing ideologies, students who attended the event shared a common desire for future hope. First-year mechanical engineering major Connor Livingston summed up the attitude of the event when he said that no matter who won, “America will win.”