Polling stations in residence halls provide accessible voting for students

By Cecilia Milmoe, Features Editor

For many prospective voters, a lack of voting accessibility can serve as a significant obstacle, with barriers such as a lack of time or transportation. On campus, there are measures in place to make voting more accessible.

There will be no University classes on Nov. 8. In addition to this, there will be six polling stations spread across campus — including a polling station in both ISR and FAR.

Aaron Ammons, the Champaign County clerk, said the locations were chosen to provide accessible voting for students.

“We increased those locations because of the student turnout and to make sure the students had the accessibility that they deserve as well,” Ammons said. “Students live here nine months out of the year, you pay taxes here, you support the businesses here. So, the policies and procedures that are passed here affect you, and this is basically your home for four years.”

Ammons said that there is often a large number of students voting at the Illini Union, which creates a bottleneck.

“We have six locations on campus now and try to spread out all over the campus to give students access and create a flow where it doesn’t bottleneck into just one location at the Union.”

Ammons said that there has been a history of student voter suppression in the past and that at one point, there was only one polling station on campus in the Union.

Alma Sealine, director of University Housing, said that she wants the polling stations in the residence halls to allow students to vote.

“We have provided polling stations in the residence halls for a very long period of time,” Sealine said. “The rationale is that we want students to have access to do their civic duty and to be engaged in the process of voting. And in order to provide more access and make it easier for them, that’s what we have done.”

Ammons said that by having polling stations in the residence halls, a large number of students can be accounted for.

“The residence halls have large numbers of students in one location,” Ammons said. “So, if you can have a polling location inside the residence hall, then you can get full access for as many students as possible.”

Sealine said she wants students to take advantage of these polling stations.

“I hope it has an effect on student voting turnout,” Sealine said. “We love for our students to be involved in the process. And I hope that making it more easily available will be something that students will choose to take advantage.”

Monica Molek, senior in LAS, said that she sees having polling stations in residence halls as helpful.

“I think that’s very beneficial,” Molek said. “For accessibility reasons, people with accommodations, not everyone has the time to go out to a different polling place, let alone transportation. Not everyone can take the bus or ride a bike or drive. So, the fact that there are polling stations at these dorms is very helpful.”

Molek also said that she believes lack of accessibility to be a major factor in people not voting.

“I definitely do think that a big reason why people don’t vote is accessibility, accessibility issues and time,” Molek said. “I completely agree with the University not being open, or at least not hosting classes on election day.”

Ammons explained that while registration cards will say a specific polling station, students can vote at any polling station on campus. Additionally, he said that if a student is not already registered to vote, they can register at a polling station by bringing a photo ID and a piece of mail with their name and their current address on it.

Sealine said the polling station in FAR will be in the lounge on the first floor and the polling station in ISR will be on the lower level. She also said that these polling stations will be available to local residents as well and that FAR will have card access turned off for easier access.

Molek said that while she is happy that there are two polling stations in residence halls, she hopes there will be more in the future.

“I think starting off with two dorms is good, but as elections progress, as the years progress, (they should be) added into more dorms,” Molek said “Because it sounds as of right now that the six pack doesn’t have one. So that I think that would be beneficial.”

 

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