COLLEGE PARK, Maryland – The line to vote in the 2012 election at the University
of Maryland’s Stamp Student Union center stretches around the entire floor as
students clad in Terrapin gear study copies of the ballot
Outside, some cheerful students are squeezing in some
last-minute stumping for Question Six, about gay marriage equality. Volunteers
are plying them to wait in line for 25 minutes with chocolate, candies and
assorted “I Voted” stickers.
In an election where the youth vote will be
critical, college campuses across the country are scrambling to make sure their
students vote. In the politically charged beltway around Washington, the
election takes on heightened importance as many students crisscross the state
lines to complete internships in political positions.
Craig Slack, the
director of the Leadership and Community Service Learning Office said on Tuesday
that the University of Maryland followed in the footsteps of many other large
universities with a Democratic leaning. Maryland is also expected to stay blue
and vote for incumbent Barack Obama. He also stressed the importance of
Maryland’s seven ballot questions.
“Although this is a presidential
election, there is a 13 percent approval rating of Congress, so we are
concentrating on that,” Slack said. “While we want someone in the Oval Office
who is competent, we also need to be worried about who is in
About 1,800 students will vote in the university’s student
union out of a school population of more than 30,000. The majority will vote by
absentee ballot or at their home polling stations. This includes sophomore Rola
Saleh, who got up at 6 a.m. to vote in the nearby suburb of
“This was my first election, I’m really excited,” she said
after returning to campus with a free T-shirt and an “I voted” sticker on her
“I made my mom and dad vote this time, they haven’t voted in
years. My parents are from Lebanon and voting doesn’t mean as much there,” she
But the University of Maryland’s Hillel building, which serves as
the Jewish community center, departed from the democratic leanings on campus,
said Hearing and Speech Therapy freshman Dalya Lerner. Students at Hillel are
mostly voting for Romney, she said.
“People are concerned about Obama,
many people are pro-Romney because he really cares about Israel,” she added as
she waited in line.
But the most important issue, according to Junior
Elizabeth Virga, a volunteer organizing Tuesday’s polling at the University of
Maryland, is that young people get out and vote.
“It’s important to have
young people share their voice, so politicians will listen to what we have to