Local referendum asks about Iraq war

By Erin Lindsay

While United States citizens hit the polls today for the midterm elections, U.S. soldiers are abroad and are continuing to fight the war in Iraq, which began in March 2003.

According to an Associated Press report, as of Sunday, at least 2,834 members of the U.S. military have died in the line of duty.

Both parties are conducting their “get-out-the-vote” campaigns, and voters are preparing to hit the polls with their own decision.

One issue up for debate on the Champaign-Urbana ballot asks voters whether U.S. troops should be pulled out of Iraq.

The question remains – will the war in Iraq and the recent death toll affect voters this election?

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Professor in political science Brian Gaines said it is difficult to determine.

“It’s likely to impact the election, but it’s hard to calibrate,” Gaines said. “Forty of the House races are very close, but immigration seems to be a leading issue. There are very high casualties in Iraq, but there isn’t a lot of effect; it’s too late.”

Gaines said that while the referendum may give voters a concise way of stating their opinion about the war, the result will not affect U.S. foreign policy.

“It is only local, and it’s meaningless,” Gaines said. “It’s just symbolic for expressionism and a revelation of public opinion.”

Joseph Danavi, senior in LAS, said the war in Iraq has become a civil war and the only thing stopping it from fully exploding is the U.S. presence.

“I was against it (the war) but it seems regardless,” Danavi said.

“It seems regardless; it doesn’t matter anymore,” he added.

Danavi said his vote will not be affected by what the Republicans have done with the war, but rather what their focus should have been for their recent terms in office.

“We have so many crises at home,” Danavi said. “Republicans have taken away the focus from domestic issues. People are tired of it; this country comes first.”

Stephanie Weissenstein, senior in LAS, is married to a U.S. Marine who is currently stationed in California.

She said her husband served in Iraq in what she deemed as a relatively calm time.

Now, there is word that her husband may be deployed again.

“It was rough when he went the first time, but they had good control then, and I think he’s more afraid to go back now,” Weissenstein said.

Weissenstein said that while she prefers not to discuss the war, she is very supportive of her husband and his fellow troops.

She said people’s votes should come as a reaction to the recent death tolls.

“I support our troops, but not the reason they are over there,” Weissenstein said. “People are seeing people die. We say we’re going to win but we keep losing control.”

Iraq’s once dictator Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death Sunday.

While the future of Iraq is unknown, voters in Champaign-Urbana can go out today and decide which party will oversee its future.