Onslaught of Kenyon students voting makes national headlines
National media cover Kenyon students' long wait to vote
Hundreds of Kenyon students proved their mettle on Election Day, as they waited in line for as long as ten hours to cast their ballots. The local polling place had only two voting machines, one of which malfunctioned for several hours. Students, many of them first-time voters, persevered along with faculty members and community residents, bolstered by volunteers who brought them food, water, and umbrellas to ward off the rain. The last voters emerged at 4:00 a.m., applauded by their peers. Newspapers, radio and television stations, and Internet news sites throughout the country covered what may have been the longest voter line in the nation:
Sara Kaplow, Class of 2007, was interviewed by CNN about her voting experience. Her comments were broadcast nationally on a November 3 morning news program.
Peter Jennings concluded ABC's World News Tonight with "a little genuine inspiration" from Kenyon College. He reported that by the time students finished voting, there wasn't anyone else voting in the entire state. "I didn't understand the importance of my single vote," Tad Gruman, class of 2008, told a reporter. "In the future, I will never take it for granted."
National Public Radio's All Things Considered gave a "tip of the hat for perserverance to the students of Kenyon College." Lauren Gray, Class of 2007, was interviewed about her experience of waiting in line for almost ten hours. "It was really, really important to me that I vote," she said. "Everyone felt they were part of something historic."
NBC4 in Columbus interviewed Maggie Hill, Class of 2005, about her voting experience. "It's really apparent that everyone's vote counts," Hill said.
The Columbus Dispatch ran its second story on November 4. "We were (called) the apathetic youth," Lauren Hauser, Class of 2007, was quoted as saying. "And we were going to wait however long" to prove otherwise.
The BBC News reported that "electoral officials said one of the precincts at Kenyon College in Knox County has a long line of people waiting to vote and it could go on for several hours."
The Chicago Tribune reported that first-year student Clare Keating, of Skokie, Illinois, arrived at the Gambier polls at 8:00 a.m., "and found a queue that snaked through hallways and around the building housing the polling station. 'I waited three and a half hours to vote, which I found ridiculous,' she said. 'It looked like a Disneyland ride.' The wait caused Keating to miss a class, but her professor offered her a personalized version of the day's lecture on Victorian artists."
The New York Times noted that turnout was so heavy in Ohio, "even rural Knox County-where hundreds of Kenyon College students waited six hours to vote-that Democrats ordered volunteers to abandon phone banks and rush food, hot chocolate, chairs, umbrellas, and radios to voters who had been waiting in the drenching rain."
The Washington Post reported that, "In Gambier, Ohio, residents and Kenyon College students stood for as long as seven hours in the rain to vote at one of two booths." The article quoted Alexandra Kernan-Schloss, a psychology major from Arlington, Virginia, who "vowed to stick it out, helped by handouts of pizza, sweatshirts, and umbrella. 'It's frustrating, but it's a cool feeling,' she said. 'Really exciting.'"
Meanwhile, Washingtonpost.com observed that the polling place in Gambier, "had not prepared for an onslaught of newly registered voters." Student Nick Papa, who was still in line at 1:30 a.m., told reporters that students refused paper ballots when offered, "saying that they wanted to use the electronic machines 'to make sure our votes count.'"
Senior Margaret Hill was interviewed by Matt Lauer on The Today Show on NBC, while sophomore Emma Haberl appeared on ABC's Good Morning America and was interviewed on ABC News Radio.
At 12:36 a.m. on election night, CNN.com posted the news that, "Even at this hour, people in Knox County are still voting. At Kenyon College some people stood in line for up to seven hours."
Bloomberg.com also observed that, "Voting in Ohio was plagued by long delays at some polling places. Voters in Gambier, the home of Kenyon College, waited more than four hours to cast their ballots. At the 1,500-student college, some voters were waiting in line after midnight." They reported that according to English professor David Lynn, poll workers told voters they might have to wait as much as five hours in order to vote.
KTLA.com, the Web site of Los Angeles television station KTLA, quoted sophomore Lauren Gray, who was still in line at midnight waiting to cast her vote: "'When it's coming down to having Ohio be the deciding state, everyone at the college and in the town knows we could be the next Florida,' Gray said."
An Associated Press story that appeared in many outlets, including the San Jose Mercury News, USA Today, and on CBS.com and AZcentral.com, mentioned that, "In tiny Gambier northeast of Columbus, students at Kenyon College napped, snacked, and watched movies on laptop computers as they waited seven hours to cast ballots on two electronic voting machines." The article quoted sophomore Mara Alperin, who missed two classes in order to vote: "It was a little bit discouraging, but I knew I had to go through it."
WBAY, a television station in Green Bay, Wisconsin, carried the story on their Web site: "Voting dragged into the early morning at Kenyon College northeast of Columbus because of high turnout in a precinct with just two electronic voting machines. Paper ballots were delivered to speed things up, but lines remained more than five hours after the normal poll closing time of 7:30 p.m. By that time, the presidential election had been decided in other states."
An article in The Columbus Dispatch quoted several Kenyon students, including sophomore Bethany Taylor, first-year student Craig Getting, and sophomore Julia Kosinki. "Getting, of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, was among dozens-maybe hundreds-of Kenyon students who switched their registrations to vote in the swing state of Ohio. 'They really pushed us to vote here,' Getting said, referring to get-out-the-vote drives aimed at students." The article also noted that Kenyon President S. Georgia Nugent and others on campus had encouraged students to vote. Continued the article: "And Nugent backed up her enthusiasm with a visit to the beleaguered polling place, where she handed out food and water."
The Mansfield (Ohio) News Journal reported that, "Kenyon College students, standing in lines as long as four hours Tuesday, stood under umbrellas and did homework as they waited, taking it all in stride. Those students, and millions of other young people, demonstrated a keen interest in the country's future."
The Mount Vernon (Ohio) Daily News, observed that, "spirits remained high among the voters, predominately Kenyon students, many of whom were voting for the first time. At 10 p.m., student Ben Taylor let out a cheer after casting his ballot, excited to be voting in his first election and because the wait was over. He had been in line since 1 p.m. 'I really want my vote to count. I still have a test to study for, but this is also important. It's exciting that the students have hung in there.'" The article continued, "To pass the time, some voters read, many studied, and others did crossword puzzles or played cards. But the majority of the predominately young crowd simply enjoyed the camaraderie of participating in the democratic process. And they will certainly have a story to tell their grandchildren."