Ames, Iowa — About 4 p.m. Tuesday, Iowa State University sophomore Hailey Kitzmann decided it was time to register to vote. She and her roommate, Kayla Worrell, 20, grabbed their driver’s licenses and walked to the polling station in their campus apartment complex.
Despite frequent reminders via text message, social media, e-mail, advertisements and door knockers, neither had requested an absentee ballot from their home towns in eastern Iowa or voted early.
“I just didn’t do it in time,” said Kitzmann, who at 19 is voting in her first presidential election.
Iowa is one of the few states that allows same-day registration, a boon for college students known to procrastinate.
Four years ago, the mania for Barack Obama that swept college campuses hit Iowa State’s nearly 30,000 students hard. He won this mostly rural, overwhelmingly white state with the help of a record number of young voters, particularly college students.
When the president appeared on campus in August, he told students: “Ames, your vote matters. Your vote made a difference. Change was possible because of you.” But this time around, the mania had waned.
Some dorm windows featured blue Obama-Biden signs, but many sported Romney-Ryan placards in Iowa State’s signature cardinal-and-gold colors. Although most public state schools swing liberal, Iowa State has long had a strong conservative base on campus, partly because of its strong agriculture programs.
Here’s how Jordan Cowan, a sophomore from Wisconsin (whose dad once showed cattle with Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate and a congressman from that state), explains the school’s political breakdown: “I think if you’re agriculture, you’re Romney. And if you’re design or anything like that, you’re Obama.”
“Or if you’re from Des Moines,” added Mark Holloway, 19, a sophomore from rural Maryland.
Kitzmann and Worrell were going to pay a price for procrastinating. The roommates were greeted by a line that would take at least 90 minutes. Kitzmann planned to vote for Romney, Worrell for Obama. But their political differences were immediately forgotten once they voted. They were heading back to their apartment to make baked ravioli for dinner.