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West Virginia U. Area Poll Turnout Exceeds Expectations

This story was written by Jessica Hammond, The Daily Athenaeum

West Virginia University Journalism professor Joel Beeson waited an hour and a half to vote at Morgantown High School on crutches.Precincts in Morgantown had a higher voter turnout than expected on Tuesday, according to County Clerk Carye Blaney.We expected about 75 percent of voters to show, and the numbers exceed that, Blaney said.Im very encouraged by the amount of voters that chose to exercise their right and make their voice heard.Although there were small technical difficulties with the printers, Blaney called these issues normal, saying it was all due to transportation.She added that the only complaints of the day had to do with long lines and waiting.But Beeson said he didnt mind.I would rather see a big turnout and wait in line, Beeson said. A lot of people have fought and died for this opportunity. Its a minor thing to wait.Freshman Secondary Education major Samantha Kaleal, who waited in line an hour and 45 minutes, voted for Sen. Barack Obama, citing his education policy.Kaleal, who is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, said she changed her address to vote in West Virginia.Im just so excited to vote, Kaleal, a first-time voter, said.Ken Downey, of South Park, has been voting at Morgantown High School for the past 19 years and has never waited. But this year, he stood in line for an hour and a half.He said the polling staff was good, though they were not prepared for the huge crowds. He added that he was impressed with the number of young voters.Over the past weeks, campus organizations like the Young Democrats and the College Republicans have pushed for early voting and had daily voter registration drives.Dan Whalen, an aerospace engineering senior from Martinsburg, W.Va., voted at the First Presbyterian Church on Spruce Street for Sen. John McCain.It takes a lot of guts to serve the public after all that mess, Whalen said, referring to McCains prisoner of war status. There will be a lot of change, good change, regardless of who wins.Much has been made by media outlets and Democratic leaders about vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palins inexperience, but thats something with which Whalen disagrees.It will be good to see a fresh face in Washington, he said.South Park resident Ed Davis also wants to see change in Washington.I would like to see more Republicans, Davis said.Democrats could control both the United States House of Representatives and Senate if they win the majority of elections, and it is possible for Democrats to reach 60 Senate seats, which would prevent filibusters.Reports were filed throughout Election Day about problems with voting machines in battleground states like Virginia and Florida, but that wasnt the case in Morgantown.Davis said he had no trouble with the electronic machine and feels there are less mistakes with machines than with paper ballots.Michael Risch, 38, is a law professor at WVU. He only waited 10 minutes to cast his vote at the Cheat Lake Volunteer Fire Department.Risch said he felt the staff was well prepared for the crowds, except for the fewer number of machines in his precinct, because one was broken.He also said he liked the electronic machine better than paper.Assuming that it works, it is more accurate, Risch said.He said in 2004 he voted in California, and there were a lot less people voting in a much higher populated state.Risch also said if the polls are right, Obama will win the election.For some students, like senior international studies major Amanda Bukrim, a Democrat in the White House is the best solution.Im sick of what the Republicans have done in America over the last eight years, Bukrim said.According to her, the candidates have been ruthless toward each other throughout the election.Even during the primaries, Sen. (Hillary) Clinton and Obama were pitted against one another. It was tragic. They were both good candidates, Bukrim said.

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