Early voting has steady turnout

Cassie Buchman and Lauren McQueen

Students and community members came to the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union to vote early Wednesday.

People can still vote on Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Bridge Lounge.

Early voting allows people to vote before the general 2016 primary elections.

In the 15th Congressional District, Republicans John Shimkus and Kyle McCarter are running for U.S. Representative and Republican candidates Reggie Phillips and Jonathan Kaye are running for state representative for the 110th district.

Dale Righter and Mike Parsons, both Republicans, are running for the State Senate for the 55th Legislative District.

No Democratic candidates are running in the federal and state legislative and congressional districts.

At the bridge lounge, the election judges said voter turnout had been pretty steady.

Charleston resident Debi Hilligoss, who has been an election judge for seven years, said a lot of people vote early because of convenience.

“You just may not be able to get to your polling place on Election Day,” Hilligoss said. “(When you vote early) it can be easier to schedule.”

Hilligoss said she thinks Friday might be busy as students might come vote before they leave for Spring Break.

Anyone registered in Coles County can vote in the Bridge Lounge.

This was Teresa Sims first year being an election judge.

She said she joined because she loves people and gets to interact with them as a judge.

Sims said the turnout was pretty good so far because the Union was a central location people could go to.

Morgan Atkins, a senior graphic design major, voted early so she “could remember to do it.”

She has only voted one other time and said she voted in this election because she does not want Donald Trump to be elected.

“It’s a good thing (to vote),” Atkins said. “It’s our future.”

Ben West, a junior music education major, said he is not currently registered to vote but he will register in Champaign County, his home county, soon.

He said students should find out exactly what each candidate stands for and vote, because no matter what, it is going to affect their future.

“Everything you vote for is going to be affecting your future, whether immediate or distant,” he said.

West said he believes college students do not always get involved in voting, because they feel their vote does not matter.

“There’s a feeling of unjust representation almost, where it doesn’t feel like it’s going to mean anything if they vote or if they don’t,” he said. “They’re already convinced it’s inevitable what’s going to happen.”

Nikki Fabiano, a sophomore family and consumer sciences major, also said she is not registered, but is planning on registering at home.

Fabiano said because college students are becoming adults now, the elections will definitely affect them.

“It definitely matters to us now more than older people, because they’re working now, and we haven’t even started yet,” she said. “It’s our future.”

Hannah East, a junior communication disorders and sciences major, said she thinks there are a lot of college students who do care about politics, but she also knows people who feel like they do not have time to get involved.

“I know for myself, I’m planning on voting, but I’m not huge into politics,” she said. “It’s hard for me to look at every single issue and say ‘OK, this is how I feel about this and this is who supports this and who doesn’t support this.’”

East said even at the state level, students could see how they are affected.

“With everything that’s going on lately, you can really see just how much politics does affect our lives as students, and funding and how we are able to get our education,” she said. “Also, not just within the college level, but once we’re out of college, we’re in the real world, and whether it’s in our own lives, or in the line of work we do, the laws that are passed are going to affect us.”

Cassie Buchman and Lauren McQueen can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected] or [email protected]