UNCW voters soaked at Warwick Center
Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 12, 2012 19:11
The freezing drizzle and the long wait did little to deter UNC Wilmington students from exercising their constitutional right in this 2012 presidential election at Warwick Center’s polling location.
Warwick's doors were open 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. At first, the flow of voters was steady, but by noon, the line leading into the polling center had extended beyond the length of the building, snaking along the sides.
The voters at Warwick had a lot to think about while they waited.
Johnathan Nixon, a junior at UNCW, was focused on the cost of education while he was in line. Rising tuition and grant and scholarship cuts were some of his biggest concerns and weighed heavily on his ballot decision.
"I think education is the key to getting America back on its feet," Nixon said. He worries that there are young people who have the potential to make an impact on society but who can't afford to go to college.
Healthcare and the economy were the most relevant issues to many Warwick voters.
Students getting ready to graduate are especially concerned with the small job market and daunting debt payments. One in five U.S. households owed outstanding student debt in 2010, according to a study done by the Pew Research Center.
Gretchen Treman, a rain-soaked Republican volunteer on post outside Warwick, cited concern for her college-age children as one of the main factors for voting Republican.
“We are just trying to keep our family above ground. I want for my college age kids to have jobs when they graduate,” Treman said.
Cindy Hebert is a voting veteran that first registered to vote when she was 21 years old. In the beginning, Hebert said, she categorized herself as more of a libertarian. However in this year’s election, she is more focused on which candidate will benefit the middle class more.
“I’m looking at the potential of taxes,” Hebert said. “The ones that are in the middle class work really hard to get there, and then to pay out more taxes than the upper class people do is pretty rough.”
While this year’s brutal political campaign, complete with new forms of mudslinging, may have exacerbated the schism between liberal and conservative– but the students standing in line on UNCW’s campus seemed united and proud to exercise their democratic freedom.
For many of them, it was their first ballot.
A student wielding a skateboard and long hair, tied back with a checkered bandana, stood in line talking politics with an older, salt-and-pepper haired man. The line painfully inched forward.
Jimmy and Myra Rexroat brought their 9-year-old daughter, Hayley, to stand in line with them, to emphasize the importance of having your voice heard. Myra remembers coming to the polls with her mother as a child. Now, she wants to show her daughter the patriotic freedom her mother once showed her.
The Rexroats said the economy was the sole factor in their voting.
By 2 p.m. the line was twice the building's length, snaking from the entrance to the polling room to the double doors on the other side of the building and back again.
“I believe this is an issue, it should be changed,” David Morrissy said. Morrissy had been standing in line for around 50 minutes. “I’ve got another half hour to go at least.”
Morrissy wasn't alone in the wait. Many voters this election complained of long lines, most often due to low numbers of voting booths.
While some first-time voters wanted to experience the actual "Election Day" instead of utilizing early voting sites, Andrew Mossman, a first year voter in 2008, wished he had anticipated the long line in Warwick Center.
“I didn’t think lines would be this long, I just thought it would be more convenient to come here than to travel off campus and do all that but I’m kind of regretting that now,” Mossman said. “I’m not going to leave.
Although ill-prepared, Mossman had cleared out his afternoon schedule for the rest of the day so he could come to Warwick.
“You gotta vote,” Mossman said.
Students arriving in Warwick Center single out friends and acquaintances already in line. Exaggerated rumors on the time it will take to reach the polls swirled.
“Apparently it doesn’t last three hours,” a student in line said to a friend that just arrived. “Apparently it lasts an hour and a half.”
While the line circling the interior of Warwick was a dreaded sight, students arriving simply laughed at their temporary predicament and stationed themselves at the end of the line.
They had plenty to talk about.
Most students came from class with a friend or two to occupy their two hour wait with conversations centered around sports, relationships, the weather and of course, politics. Others waited in line with headphones in or a book to read. One student even had her laptop balanced on her forearm as she stepped forward in line.
In the words of Mossman, “You gotta vote.”