University of Richmond students battled two challenges to voting today: registration complications and ballot ignorance.
Elaina Lara, a senior who has been registered on campus for four years, had troubles and delays when she went to vote this morning.
“Before I left I double checked that I was registered here and I was,” Lara said. “At the voting station they checked both my IDs and stared at them for a long time. When I asked what the problem was they said that for whatever reason my address was inactive."
Lara had to fill out a new form that asked for the last four digits of her social security number, delaying her 20 minutes past the time it took her friends to vote.
"A Democratic Party attorney spoke with me and said I was one of many students who had an incorrect registration and they don’t know why," Lara said. "They think that one of the student groups on campus messed up the registrations by accident.”
Despite the possibility that voting wouldn’t be easy, many students still showed up to the polls in overcrowded shuttles. Conrad Niebuhr, a freshman, had no seat on one of the shuttles and had to crouch in the back. However, he felt it was worth it.
“I feel like it’s important to vote for the good of the country,” Niebuhr said.
Aaron Harawa, vice president of the Young Democrats, expressed concern that some of these students might not fully understand what would be on the ballot.
“There seems to be confusion surrounding what district they are voting in," Harawa said. "Moreover, many students are not familiar with the non-presidential candidates that they are voting for.”
Some people have spent the past two days tabling in the Tyler Haynes Commons to raise awareness of candidates and ballot issues. On Monday, Richmond mayoral candidate Levar Stoney spoke with students passing through the Commons. The College Republicans tabled Monday and Tuesday to spread awareness and encourage political activism.
“We want to make people aware College Republicans are a group on campus that provides intellectual speakers and encourages political activism,” Andrew Brennan, president of College Republicans, said. “We’re providing information on voting and making sure our presence is recognized and students can engage with the political process. Hopefully, we can get people to vote GOP today.”
The Richmond and Westhampton college governments were also tabling today, although they were not promoting either presidential candidate. .
“Last year both WCGA and RCSGA formed a legislative affairs committee whose objective is to foster political engagement,” Mia Hagerty, president of WCGA, said. “One of their initiatives this year is to promote voting for the elections this fall, and we did this by tabling and working closely with the CCE to host a number of events leading up to and taking place on the election.”
The CCE organized shuttles that ran from the Transportation Hub to the voting booths every fifteen minutes. More than 300 students registered to vote through the CCE before election day, a record amount. These students will be voting for officials in the federal, state and local levels.
Contact reporter Julia Raimondi at firstname.lastname@example.org