University organizations help students get to polls

By Camille Murray

In an effort to encourage students to register for and vote in the midterm elections on Tuesday, several student organizations provided shuttle services to the Brookens Administrative Center in Urbana, the only location offering same-day voter registration.

Although voter registration ended Oct. 7, the Brookens Administrative Center offered same-day registration for the first time this year. Same-day registration is only effective for the 2014 midterm elections.

The Graduate Employees’ Organization began coordinating rides from the University YMCA for students at 9 a.m. and continued services until approximately 7 p.m., according to Grant Antoline, community organizer for the GEO.

He said Election Day has brought in a particularly good turnout of students, which shows many students want to vote.

Antoline said the GEO initiated the shuttle service to help simplify the process of voting for students.

“It would be difficult for students to get out to Brookens,” he said. “It’s a matter of necessity. If we want students to vote, then we have to make it easy for them to do that.”

In addition to the GEO services, students could also receive transportation to the center from the Illini Hillel Cohen Center, which began taking transportation appointments from students starting at 11 a.m.

“We were just one of an array of transportation options on campus,” said Noah Feingold, Israel affairs vice president of the Illini Hillel student executive board. “I think it shows students that voting is important, people care about it, and that you should exercise your right to vote.”

The Illinois Student Senate pushed for same-day registration at the Illini Union voting site, but was unsuccessful in its attempt.

“Same-day voter registration is really beneficial,” said Mitch Dickey, student body president. “There’s a lot of people that just forget, and now that the election hype is really high, people are like, ‘I might’ve forgot to register, but I’m glad I can still vote.’”

Dickey believes the reason the Illini Union was not declared a same-day voter registration site was due to limited time, political motives, and confliction with regulations that prohibited the Union from providing same-day registry for one day only.

Gordy Hulten, Champaign County Clerk, said on Monday that his office supported same-day voter registration, but since the request came in late, it was unlikely they would be able to provide all equipment needed to set up another same-day voter location.

Jaclyn Gelfond, president of the College Democrats at the University, said the organization sent out student and community volunteers to remind people of Election Day, inform students of polling locations and help with transportation to the polls.

“People don’t pay attention to the issues, but they are incredibly important. They will definitely affect you when you graduate and they are already affecting you now,” Gelfond said.

Camille can be reached at [email protected]