BOSTON — It’s cold. It’s early. And almost nobody is voting yet on the day that every pundit is saying could finally shake up this year’s Republican presidential race.
Polls opened here at 7 a.m. for Super Tuesday voting and if the initial trickle at the Harbor Point Technology Center — the closest polling place to UMass Boston — is any indication, turnout ain’t looking good in the home state of GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney.
Boston’s NPR station, WBUR, reported this morning that only 300,000 voters are expected to show up today, 200,000 fewer than in the 2008 presidential primary, when both parties were engaged in vigorous races. To put things in perspective: Almost one million young voters are eligible to vote in Massachusetts today.
In the spacious first floor student lounge here, flags of the world’s countries hung over the room as 18-year-old Amanda Carey admitted she hadn’t voted yet but she would do so for the first time ever after school in a bid to support fiery Congressman Ron Paul.
But by 8:30 a.m. only one voter, a 24-year-old Northeastern graduate named Ashley, had shown up to vote. She identified herself as a Libertarian and said she was voting to get President Obama out of office because, “I don’t believe he’s delivered on any promises he made in 2008.”
Down the road at UMass Boston, students were trickling into the Campus Center. There wasn’t a polling place there, but there was a cafeteria. And for now that was a way bigger draw this morning. (Jacob Soboroff)
ATLANTA — We’re at Georgia Tech and the Student Center polling station in the heart of campus is open! But so is the Chick-Fil-A right next door — and so far, it looks like more people are interested in biscuits than ballots. Maybe they’re just powering up for the big day?
Michael, a grad student in electrical engineering, was definitely down to exercise his democratic duty. He’s also really passionate about Paul and credits the Libertarian Congressman from Texas with inspiring him to learn more about the economy. Michael believes former President Bush and now President Obama have “crashed the system” and the only one talking about the big changes we need to make as a country is the GOP’s oldest candidate.
“It felt good,” he said about voting for a candidate he was passionate about. “I wouldn’t have come out today if Ron Paul wasn’t a candidate.”
Some early birds were planning to read up and get their vote on in the November general election, but Mark Teal, a senior in civil engineering, is sitting Tuesday’s vote out because he’s a Democrat, even though he could still cast a ballot in the open primary. He predicts whoever wins the Republican nomination may give Obama a good fight, but is confident the current president will see another term.
Brent and Chase, two seniors majoring in electrical engineering, weren’t eligible to vote because they didn’t get absentee ballots in time, but they’re on the Newt Gingrich train and are confident the former House Speaker will win in his home state.
Finally, I chatted with Mehran, a 22-year-old industrial engineering major, who says it is just too early for him to get involved — and he wasn’t even aware that it was Super Tuesday, or that the Republicans were duking it out to take on Obama. (Becca Frucht)
COLUMBUS — It’s 6:30 a.m. and I am walking around the Ohio State University campus trying to find the polling site. I ask five to six students and nobody knows where it is. I finally find an information booth and they laugh and tell me I have actually been on site the entire time and the station is just 20 yards away.
The polling site, in the student union in the center of campus, is pretty quiet around 7:30 a.m., when I was expecting a morning rush as students cast their ballots on their way to the day’s first class. Plenty of young people are going to class or to work, but all zoom right past the polling site. Not even a glance. I didn’t see one person under the age of 30 exercise their power to vote in the 90 minutes I hung around in the cold dawn.
Finally, I found Andrei Rhakovic, 25, who was in a hurry, but stopped for a minute to speak his mind. “It’s just bulls— overall,” he said. “I voted for Obama four years ago … but these past four years have really shown how f—ed and corrupt the system still is.” If anyone could get us out of this jam he describes, he thinks it’s Paul, but, well, let’s just say Rhakovic doesn’t trust his judgment either.
Oftentimes when I speak with young voters it feels like they’ve experienced a “bad breakup” with government and politicians and this year’s election. But for Andrei, he is feeling much more than that. This is a bad — real bad – divorce. When I ask what it would take for him to re-engage all he can say is, “I don’t know. That’s a good question.”
It’s the first time he was speechless. (Andrew Jenks)
MTV has Super Tuesday covered, with reporters on the scene in Georgia, Ohio and Massachusetts! Check back for up-to-the-minute coverage on all the primaries, and stick with Power Of 12 throughout the presidential election season.