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Notre Dame Students Vote Obama In Mock Election

This story was written by Kaitlynn Riely, The Observer

Notre Dame students elected Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Joe Biden as the next president and vice president of the United States in a mock election Tuesday.

With 2,692 undergraduates and graduate students voting in the election, the Democratic ticket won 52.6 percent of the vote, or 1,414 students, followed by the Republican ticket of Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin, which won 41.1 percent of the vote, or 1,105 students.

Former congressman Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root, the Libertarian Party ticket, won 2.7 percent of the votes, or 72 students.

The independent ticket consisting of Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez drew 1.4 percent of the vote, or 37 students. Thirty-nine students, or 1.4 percent of the voters, chose to abstain and 23 students, or .9 percent, voted other. There was no option to write in a candidate preference for the "other" selection.

Student government organized the mock election, placing voting stations at LaFortune Student Center, DeBartolo Hall and North and South Dining Halls, where students could vote on laptop computers throughout the day Tuesday.

As some hurried to and from class Tuesday afternoon, a line of students waiting to cast their votes stretched from the DeBartolo voting tent down the sidewalk.

"I think it could not have gone any better," Student Body Vice President Grant Schmidt said Tuesday night after the voting stations had closed.

Schmidt told The Observer on Monday that he hoped to have 1,500 people participate in the election, but he said his expectations were exceeded, with more than 2,500 people turning out to vote.

"Everyone was talking about it all around campus, so I think it was overwhelmingly successful," he said.

Senate University Affairs Chair Ashlee Wright, who helped organized the event, said she was impressed by the turnout.

"I was pretty happy with Notre Dame with how they came out and voted, even though it is not a real election," she said.

She said she hopes the experience will motivate students to vote in the real presidential election on Nov. 4.

The mock election not only asked students for their presidential ticket pick, but also asked them to fill in information about gender, class year and residence hall, then to choose the issue that is most important to them and how closely they are following the election coverage.

The most important issue for those who voted was the economy, with 41.5 percent of the votes, followed by foreign policy at 17.7 percent. Of the remaining issues, 9.8 percent chose energy and the environment as the most important issue in the election, 9.5 percent chose other, 7.7 percent chose abortion, 6.2 percent chose the Iraq War, 3.3 percent chose education, 3.2 percent chose civil liberties and one percent chose immigration.

When asked how closely they had been following the election, 37.2 percent chose the selection "I check the election news once or twice a week," 36.8 percent said "I check the headlines once a day," 19.1 percent said "I stalk multiple news networks daily," 5.1 percent said "I've heard of the candidates," .9 percent said "Election? What election?" and .8 percent gave no response.

Four years ago, student media groups on campus, not including The Observer, conducted a mock election in LaFortune a week before the election between President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry, reported Notre Dame Magazine. With 570 undergraduates and graduate students voting, the vote was 47.5 percent for Bush and 46.8 percent for Kerry.

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