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Gainesville State College students, faculty vote in pre-primary

POSTED: February 11, 2008 5:02 a.m.
Scott Rogers/The Times

Gainesville State College Student Ashley Truelove counts ballots Wednesday afternoon during the school's presidential primary. Students and faculty members were included in the voting.

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OAKWOOD — Local college students threaten to make an appearance at the polls next week. That is, of course, if Gainesville State College’s campuswide presidential primary is any indication of the real one.

More than 1,000 students, faculty and staff at Gainesville State College voted in a two-day pre-primary primary sponsored by the school’s Politically Incorrect Club.

All the votes have not been counted, but, as of Wednesday evening, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama had a clear lead overall with 249 votes, while former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee leads Republicans with 183 votes. More votes are expected to be turned in today.

As of Wednesday, 927 students, 40 faculty members and 27 staff members had participated in the campuswide election, said Douglas Young, faculty adviser of the Politically Incorrect Club. Young had voters mark their status—student, faculty or staff member— so he could evaluate how the different groups voted.

This year’s primary participation is more than double the school’s participation in 2004’s campuswide presidential primary. Young attributed the primary’s success to the school’s growth, but primarily to students and faculty members who helped spread the word.

For most of Tuesday and Wednesday, students handed out ballots to other students across the campus, professors passed them out in classrooms and boxes were available in hallways for whomever passed to participate.

In the first day of the Pre-Primary Primary, 451 students, faculty and staff cast their votes. At that point, 31 more people had voted in this year’s primary than in the 2004 campuswide election.

Young, who takes voter registration forms to the first day of his classes every semester, said the campuswide primary was designed to encourage student interest and participation on Super Tuesday.

"I love doing this," Young said. "To me, it’s like a ministry."

Ashley Truelove, 22, helped count the ballots in Young’s office Wednesday afternoon. Truelove said she noticed that the primary had sparked some political discussion on campus.

"When I walked up to a group of students (to hand out ballots), I noticed when I was walking away, they would start talking about politics," Truelove said.

The primary allowed voters to choose candidates who have already dropped out of the race, such as Fred Thompson, John Edwards and Rudy Giuliani. Young said the campuswide primary provided people who may feel the need to vote strategically in the real primary a chance to vote for the candidate they really like.

They did. One student voted for musician Ted Nugent, who penned the song "Cat Scratch Fever." Another pledged allegiance to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.



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