Few early-bird voters at Iowa State station

November 6, 2012

It was a few minutes before the polling location on the first floor of Iowa State University's Maple Residence Hall was set to open and no voters had shown up. The poll is exclusive to those with an on-campus address -- and all of them were likely still asleep.

One minute before 7 a.m. Cody Rufer walked in with a printed-out bill and a driver's license, looking to change his registration from Wisconsin to Iowa and vote. Twenty minutes later he had cast a ballot for mostly democrats, including voting for Obama for president. It was his first time voting in a presidential election.

"I come from a working class family, and we've always struggled to pay bills," said Rufer, 20, a junior horticulture major. "We can't afford to pay any more taxes."

Rufer said that his mother works as a nursing assistant at a nursing home and his father works construction for most of the year. During the winter, the family has a snow removal company. During the summer, Rufer works for a landscaping company. During the school year, he's a "community assistant" -- similar to a residence assistant-- at Maple hall. The students on his floor have been watching the debates and the slew of ads. He has been encouraging them to register to vote.

"Some of them, they exercise their right not to vote," he said, standing in the dorm lobby. "A lot of them are unhappy with the state of everything and they want some change."

As of 7:30 a.m. there still wasn't a line. Two other students had voted, and three others had returned to their dorm rooms to fetch proper identification or an absentee ballot.

Jenna Johnson writes about Maryland politics, including the General Assembly, the administration of Gov. Martin O'Malley and the 2014 election.
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Laura Vozzella · November 6, 2012