Charts taped on the wall outside Alumni Hall in the HUB-Robeson Center list the write-in candidates from today’s election, and range from the serious to humorous.
Ron Paul – a libertarian who ran for the Republican nomination in this year’s primaries – received 14 write-in votes for president. He was also written in for the offices of State Treasurer, Congress, General Assembly and State Representative.
Hermain Cain, who also ran for the Republican nomination earlier this year, received one write-in vote. Barack Obama, though already on the ballot, received a write-in vote for President, as did Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan.
Jesus Christ was another popular write-in candidate, receiving votes to be elected to every office on the ballet.
One Penn State student seemed determined to vote in the cast of characters from the video game Team Fortress 2. Pyro, Medic, Soldier, and Engineer – all classes in the game – were voted for in various offices.
Another student voted Ratchet for Senator – possibly from the Ratchet and Clank series of video games.
Political pundits and television personalities Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were also both written-in, the latter being voted for in several offices.
Other write-in candidates included Han Solo, Oprah Winfrey, Captain Planet, Scooby Doo, Viktor Krum, Slenderman and Morgan Freeman.
The clock struck 8 p.m. at the Centre Region Senior Center, 131 S. Fraser St,. and the polls officially closed. The poll volunteers cheered as the alarm on the table went off; they immediately locked the door and began to disassemble the voting booths.
The last voter had been in only five minutes before, casting the last ballot of the day, totaling 950 ballots at this downtown location, along with 26 absentee ballots.
Within the last half-hour of voting, there were not many people coming in, but according to poll worker Seth Weabar, of Bellefonte Area High School, the place was buzzing with people during the morning to early afternoon hours.
The longest the people had to wait at the Fraser St. location was about 30 to 45 minutes, but it was not the wait that agitated voters.
“A lot of the older residents were disgruntled about showing their identification,” Weabar said.
Poll co-worker Sarah Coder recalled a woman who claimed that the requests to see identification was “voter oppression.” The tone for students coming in throughout the day was not particularly excited or impatient, but moderate.
“They acted like it was just something you’ve got to do, so just do it,” said Coder.
While she did not see any trends for who was voted for the most at that particular location, Coder said that it is important to volunteer and help out as much as possible.
“I think with the government, you get out what you put in,” Coder said. “So it is better for me to help out, and it has been a positive experience especially helping the people who didn’t really know how to vote. That was good.”
Minutes after the polls closed in Pennsylvania, Centre County Commissioner Michael Pipe said he estimates at least 6,000 people have voted at the HUB-Robeson Center today.
“It was hard to tell, but I’m confident it was at least 6,000,” Pipe said. “It could be upwards of 7,000.”
Pipe said he expects to receive precinct totals by about 9:00 p.m. After that, the five judges of election present at the HUB will drive to county offices at the Willowbank Building in Bellefonte. There, votes will be tallied. Pipe said that by around 1:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, all Centre County precincts will have reported totals, and an unofficial total will be released for the county.
While Pipe is not sure exactly how 2012 compares to 2008, he said it’s probably safe to assume that turnout has been lower this year. He said that in 2008, he saw hundreds of people line up to vote starting at 5:00 a.m. However, this year, he saw about 50 people in line when doors were opened at 7:00 a.m. this morning.
Pipe said that Centre County voters interested in viewing results as they are posted can visit centrecountyvotes.com.
The volunteers at the HUB-Robeson center were dutifully stationed outside Alumni Hall in the final hour of the election.
Rachel Franceschino is the Government Affairs Chair for the University Park Undergraduate Association. Franceschino (junior-political science and labor studies and appointment relations) volunteered at the polls to make sure students voted in the correct place. Franceschino and other volunteers used color-coded maps to direct students to the correct polling place.
Justin Kilner was also on hand to volunteer for the election. As the Phone Bank Director for the Obama Campaign with the group Organizing for America, Kilner (freshman-business advertising) worked to promote President Obama's platform.
The voter turnout steadily increased as the day wore on, Kilner said. Voter turnout also corresponded with class times, Franceschino said. There were more people at the polls during times when classes finished, she said.
Franceschino also said the longest time voters spent waiting in the poll line was about an hour.
Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson, R-Centre, was also at the HUB to promote his platform.
Christopher Lee (Democrat) and Kerry Benninghoff (Republican) were also at the polls. Both men are vying for a seat in the Pennsylvania state legislature for the 171st district. Benninghoff is the incumbent.
There were also several volunteers working with the candidates to promote their respective platforms.
"Behind every candidate there's a lot of good workers," Benninghoff said.
Geddy McCullough is the judge of the 27th precinct. The 27th precinct encompasses East Halls, making it one of the largest, McCullough (senior-telecommunications) said. He unofficially estimated that about 1,500 voters from the 27th precinct turned out to vote.
As the clock struck 8 p.m., the doors for the voting polls closed at the State College Municipal Building, located on 243 S. Allen St. Minutes before, there were still several students racing to get in their votes at the last minute.
Ken Ukogu (senior-kinesiology) said he didn't feel like waiting in line during the day and so he took a nap and set his alarm for 7:30 p.m. to make it in time. He said that this was his first election and "if there is a possibility that the world might end in 2012, it could be his last," so he didn't want to miss it.
Ukogu said he felt healthcare is something very important that this country needs to focus on. The way he looks at it, he said he doesn't see "why people are against helping other people."
Robert Lai (junior-biology) made it to the polls today and said that he wanted to vote because he wanted to cancel out his dad's vote. He said he and his father don't have similar opinions. He said he is more interested in the social issues and thinks that there is a lot at stake for women's rights.
With the polls closed across the state, election officials are hard at work tallying results.
The voter turnout at College Heights Elementary School, 721 N. Atherton St., was smaller than that of the 2008 presidential election, Ruth Merritt, judge of elections for Precinct 17, said. The final vote count for Precinct 17 was 479, compared to 539 four years ago, Merritt said.
The last hour of polling was fairly slow, which is typical for this polling station, Merritt said.
Inside the HUB-Robeson Center, Maeve McCullough, Judge of Elections for Precinct 44, has had a long day. She drove in at 5:30 a.m. to start her job, which consisted of pointing students to which precinct to vote in and help answer any question. The most challenging part, however, happens after the polls close.
McCullough (sophomore-integrated arts) and her staff have a giant checklist after she closes the doors.
“We have to check the tally machine, absentee ballots, and count all of the ballots from voters,“ McCollough said. “If we get it wrong here, it affects everyone.“
After all the votes have been counted, they deliver everything to the Willowbank building in Bellefonte, she said.
There can be a lot of mistakes throughout the day, especially by first year voters. McCollough recalled the funniest error today was a voter not reading the top of the ballot and checking off every box. The vote became voided.
McCollough started working with elections since she was 16 in high school, she said. It all began when her Advanced Government teacher, Mr. Fitzgerald told her to help out. Ever since then, she said she has loved doing this and has had much fun. She said she has worked state, local, primaries and now presidential elections.
She said there are some benefits from being a government worker, such as getting reimbursed for gas mileage.
McCollough said she isn‘t allowed to give up to the minute exact numbers on which candidate might be winning or how many votes have been recorded so far. But according to her guess, she said there have been 3,000 voters so far in the HUB today and the amount of support for Romney and Obama has been equal based off of the pins voters have worn today.
As the time vote neared an end, a small handful of last minute voters trickled in to the Centre Region Senior Center on 131 S. Fraser St.
Busy schedules forced some students to race the clock in order to let their vote be counted.
In addition to a long day of classes and meetings, Andrea Soto wasn't even sure she would be able to vote because of some misleading voter ID information.
Still, Soto (senior-hospitality) was determined to vote and made it to the polling place with just 10 minutes to spare.
"It's important for people our age to be aware of the issues and actually go out and vote," she said.
Although there is no longer a line for the center's 6 polling stations, volunteers report that there have been 950 voters throughout the day, as of 7:59 pm. They have also received 26 absentee ballots.
For a last-minute campaign opportunity, Charles Dumas, the Democratic candidate for the fifth district of Pennsylvania for Congress, decided to travel to all 16 counties that make up the fifth district in one day.
In Centre County, Dumas stopped at the Church of Christ, his second to last stop in the district.
Spending all of Election Day in a car traveling over 400 miles, Dumas said he made stops in 15 out of 16 of the counties in the fifth district, and is currently on his way to the last stop in Huntington county.
"It's been invigorating and tiresome, but extraordinarily important because I think we had a change to talk about the issues," he said.
During the day, Dumas said he heard no information concerning the election besides information about turn out at polls.
He said that turn out in certain areas has been good, but in some schools, like Clarion University, turn out seemed to be an issue.
However, Dumas had a positive attitude about the overall campaign.
"I compliment my opponent on the quality and integrity of the campaign he's run," he said. "I think we've managed to both put the issues out there for the people to have a choice."
The line to vote at the State College Friends Meetinghouse wrapped down the front lawn and onto the sidewalk of Prospect Avenue early this evening. The voters, the majority of them students, faced a 40 minute wait outside in the cold, when Judge of Election for Precinct 30 Dr. Andrew Jackson intervened.
Jackson directed a huge surge of voters into the much warmer church. Voters wrapped around the pews inside of the church to wait in line.
Penn State student Hillery Wilson (junior-risk management) was grateful for Jackson’s decision to move voters inside.
State College Friends Meetinghouse is the polling location for Precincts 26 and 30. Precinct 30, Jackson said, generally receives three times less voters than precinct 26, due to the number of people living in each area.
Judge of Election for Precinct 26 Scott McClellan said that as of 5 p.m. the Meetinghouse had seen about 25 percent of the registered voters. He said 1,082 votes have been cast in Precinct 26, and 309 votes in Precinct 30.
McClellan predicts that their numbers will be around 1,515 or higher. This year’s election has seen a significantly smaller amount of voters than the 2008 election, McClellan said, who has overseen the 2004 and 2008 elections.
“2008 was crazy,” McClellan said. “There was more of an intensity [to get] people to register and to get out and vote.”
Jackson echoed McClellan’s statements.
“More people assume [Obama] is going to win [so they are not voting].”
Both McClellan and Jackson said they foresee the Meetinghouse remaining steadily busy until the polls close tonight at 8 p.m.