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College Park Students Primed to Vote--and Party

At the Adele H. Stamp Student Union at the University of Maryland at College Park, students were lined up to vote and primed to party. Posters advertising an election night fete decorated the halls and a long line of talking students waited for what was for most their first chance at the ballot box in a presidential race.

The students overwhelmingly supported Obama, who had visited the university before.

"He is a transformative leader," said Kameahle Christopher, 20, a junior majoring in African American studies and government. "I just hope everything he says he's going to do, he's going to do."

"I remember hearing him in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention," said Stephanie Stephenson, 19, a junior majoring in American studies. "I was 15. I watched that and I was inspired. I feel like I've been running along with him the last 19 months or so."

Anticipation of an Obama victory was tinged with relief.

"It's been a long, hard road and I'm just glad it's finally over," said Jeff Raphael, 22, a senior majoring in economics. "We kind of know how it's going to go. It's kind of like you're engaged and you know she's not going to leave you at the altar -- you're just exchanging your vows."

The issue of whether or not to legalize slot machines in Maryland was more divisive.

"I voted against slots, mainly because we don't know what the social implications of gambling will do to our society," said Alex Consroe, 19, a sophomore majoring in engineering. "I see it as more of an ethical issue of how government treats the people."

But supporters pointed to the plans to have some gambling revenues fund schools.

"It seems like a viable way to fund education," said Thomas Bobowiec, 20, a junior majoring in hearing and speech science who noted that the money was now flowing into neighboring states where gambling is legal.

--Nelson Hernandez

By Phyllis Jordan  |  November 4, 2008; 5:55 PM ET
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