It was a busy day in State College as students and community members turned out to cast their votes for the 2012 election.
The atmosphere was lively at the HUB-Robeson Center, though less students were predicted to have turned out to vote compared with the numbers from 2008.
A total of 6,091 people cast their votes in the HUB, including write-ins, which was less than the 2008 turnout of 7,908, Centre County Commissioner Michael Pipe said.
A straw poll conducted by PSU Votes –– a non-partisan initiative that has worked the entire election season to provide quality political information to student voters –– had President Barack Obama taking the popular vote at Penn State, winning the race with 722 votes over Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s 537 votes.
This coincided with the national results, as Obama secured his second term as president.
For the most part, the day ran smoothly in the voting centers across State College. Laura Brown, a member of PSU Votes who was measuring student wait times in the HUB, said that the entire affair seemed to run much more efficiently than it did four years ago.
“For the majority of the day, no student had a long wait, which I attribute to the vastly different line system the commissioners set up to get students in and out quickly,” Brown said.
Brown spoke of how she recalls the line stretching out of the HUB in 2008, down Pollock Road, and around Shortlidge Road.
However, the shortened wait times may not have been a product of just the increased efficiency of the election centers.
Steve Dershem, one of the Centre County commissioners at the HUB Alumni Hall voting center, said he believed that part of the reason students were able to vote so quickly was simply because there were less people who showed up to vote than did so in 2008.
“I just don’t think voter enthusiasm, particularly amongst young voters, was what it was four years ago today,” Dershem said. “I didn’t feel the energy and the electricity like I did in 2008.”
Shawn Barbrow, a volunteer in the HUB voting center, agreed with Dershem and said there was significantly less of a desire amongst students to do anything they possibly could in order to vote. He said he felt as though people got in, voted, and then pretty much forgot about it.
“People were motivated four years ago, but today even the HUB was pretty subdued,” Barbrow said. “People around Alumni Hall got in and cast their votes, but elsewhere in the student center, it felt like just another day with some kind of event going on in the ballroom.”
Still, Dershem didn’t want to take too much glory away from the polling center volunteers.
“I think the folks here at PSU were incredibly cooperative with helping us set up this room to best utilize the space that we had, and in ensuring that all the precincts were accommodated,” Dershem said. “They did an awesome job and they deserve credit.”
For the majority of the students who did cast a ballot at the HUB Tuesday, once the results came in the reactions were generally positive, given the majority Obama received in the center.
Aunte Oberg (sophomore-education and public policy) said she was thrilled with the news of Obama’s re-election.
“I’m overwhelmed and immensely excited that our country elected someone who I know will lead us in the right direction and someone who is the embodiment of the American dream,” she said.
Around State College, numbers were still strong for voter turn out. St. Paul’s Methodist Church, 109 McAllister St., saw a total of 905 voters, with 316 going to Romney and 541 going to Obama.
Precinct 17 at College Heights School, 721 N. Atherton St., saw a total of 477 votes cast. Obama took 341 votes, while Romney saw 120.
The College Township Municipal Building, 1481 E. College Ave., Precinct 44, saw a total turnout of 618 ballots cast, with Romney receiving 288 votes and Obama receiving 310 votes.
Precinct 26, Friends Meetinghouse, 611 E. Prospect Ave., saw 1,558 votes, with 611 votes for Romney and Obama for 901 votes.
The Centre Region Senior Center, 131 S. Fraser St., saw a total of 976 ballots cast, with 368 votes for Romney and 580 votes for Obama.
Precinct 29, which included the State College Municipal Building, located at 243 S. Allen St., had 887 ballots cast in all, with 359 votes going to Romney and 489 votes to Romney.