Stanford voters back Obama, Democrats

Nov. 7, 2012, 4:26 a.m.

Repeating the results of the historic 2008 presidential election, voters at campus precincts overwhelmingly supported President Barack Obama on Tuesday. An exit poll conducted by The Daily showed that 88.11 percent of campus voters favored granting the Democratic candidate a second term.

Obama received 89.12 percent of the Stanford vote four years ago.

His opponent, Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, received less than seven percent of on-campus votes, down from the 9.52 percent received by fellow Republican Sen. John McCain in 2008. Third-party candidates, Jill Stein of the Green Party and Gov. Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, picked up three percent and two percent of this year’s votes, respectively.

The Daily conducted an exit poll from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. by asking every fifth voter at two Stanford precincts — one at Tresidder Memorial Union and the other at the Haas Center for Public Service — to complete an anonymous survey. A third campus precinct was located at Nixon Elementary School.

In the 306 anonymous surveys collected, respondents were divided about the issue that most influenced their presidential vote: nearly 41 percent cited the economy, 32 percent social issues and 11 percent foreign policy. This represents a shift from 2008 when 51 answered the economy, 16.7 the war in Iraq or Afghanistan and only 9.4 social issues.

Campus voters continued to align with the Democratic Party, with respondents supporting Dianne Feinstein for U.S. Senate and Anna Eshoo for U.S. Representative of California’s 18th congressional district by large margins.

High voter turnout surprised officials at the Tresidder precinct, which ran out of ballots early in the afternoon. While the polling center started off the day with 525 ballots, nearly 670 community members ended up voting at this location, according to precinct inspector Letitia Lai.

Lai said she noticed early in the day that the polling location would not have enough ballots. She called the Santa Clara County Registrar, which at first recommended giving voters ballots printed in non-English languages. Instead, polling officials used sample ballots to tide them over while the Registrar searched for extra ballots at nearby precincts.

Tresidder voting officials also sent voters filling out provisional ballots to the Haas polling center after exhausting their supply. Provisional ballots are given to voters who do not appear on an electoral roll.

Megan Gage ’15, a poll worker at Haas, said she noticed an influx of voters directed to their polling location from Tresidder midway through the afternoon. Many voters decided to cast their ballots at Tresidder, despite the fact that they were not on its roster, due to its central location on campus.

“Because of the higher number of students who went to Tresidder, they required a higher number of provisional ballots,” Gage said. “As with [our precinct], it’s mainly graduate students who knew what was going on and had all their stuff together.”

Almost 68 percent of voters at the Haas polling center identified as graduate students, compared to the Tresidder polling center, where 74 percent of respondents were undergraduates.

According to Lai, Tresidder polling officials had to turn away or give provisional ballots to a large number of these students because they were registered to vote in another state or another county. Some of these voters stated that they had not been mailed their absentee ballot in time.

“A lot of them are freshmen — they followed the rules and tried to do the right thing, but for some reason, they didn’t receive their absentee ballot in time,” Lai said. “I felt bad for the people who tried to vote, but could not.”

Despite these problems, 92.17 percent of those who successfully voted reported satisfaction with their polling location.

Campus voters surveyed also supported Proposition 34, the initiative that would repeal the state’s death penalty for life in prison without parole, and Proposition 37, which would require food sold to consumers with “genetically modified” material to be identified as such.

Stanford voters back Obama, Democrats
(DURAN ALVAREZ/The Stanford Daily)

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