Triton Voters Glide Through Polls

    With a turnout of nearly 1,000 voters and a modified computerized voting system, UCSD polling sites reported satisfaction with the election process.

    Photos by Will Parson/Guardian
    Above: Students cast their ballots on a new system of voting machines on Nov. 7 at the Price Center Gallery B polling site. Below: A voter takes one of the few remaining “I Voted” stickers from poll workers at Price Center.

    Students saw few lines at John Muir College’s Half Dome Lounge and both stations at Price Center Gallery B, the three campus locations that served as voting places for UCSD students, each including several new electronic voting booths and numerous poll workers.

    The UC Students Association, in coordination with the A.S. Council, oversaw the election process. The groups conducted a campaign to increase student voting awareness and registration during fall quarter.

    According to Half Dome site Precinct Inspector Robert O’Connell, there was a surprisingly high turnout compared to previous years, especially considering the fact that it was a midterm election.

    There were 476 students who cast ballots electronically, and approximately 450 who voted using provisional ballots, according to O’Connell and Price Center Precinct Inspector Owen Mundy.

    Unlike the 2004 presidential election — where the use of provisional ballots was denied to students not registered in San Diego County — UCSA directed these students to polls this year, UCSA Executive Director Liz Hall said.

    “We’re out here trying to educate folks that if they request an absentee ballot, but did not receive it, they can vote provisionally,” Hall said. “A lot of people are doing that, so they’re actually getting their voices heard.”

    Not including provisional ballots, which had not been counted as of press time, most UCSD students voted for Democratic candidate Phil Angelides for governor and voted yes on Propositions 1D, 86 and 87, while an overwhelming majority voted no on Proposition 85, which, if passed, would have required parental notification 48 hours before a minor could receive an abortion.

    However, some students deviated from the popular campus opinion regarding abortion notification.

    “I voted yes [on Proposition 85] because in a lot of low-income communities, the parents end up having to take care of their child’s unwanted child,” Eleanor Roosevelt College sophomore LaCandice McCray said. “They should at least know in advance if they are going to be taking responsibility.”

    Many student results differed, however, from the statewide statistics. California voters favored Republican gubernatorial incumbent Arnold Schwarzenegger and voted against Propositions 86 and 87.

    A.S. Vice President External Long Pham, who headed the outreach effort to encourage student voters, said that the council’s goal for voter registration was nearly met; councilmembers registered 1,872 of 2,000 desired voters.

    “I am satisfied,” Pham said. “It’s very close to our goal and it’s better than [the] 2002 numbers.”

    For this election, the San Diego County Registrar of Voters implemented a new system of electronic voting, replacing a previous system that was plagued by problems last year, according to O’Connell.

    Overall, student response toward the new polling process was positive, with students citing helpful staff and the inclusion of a vote verification screen as improvements.

    “The electronic voting system is new and I was a little skeptical about [it] because of the technical difficulties that were mentioned in the news, but [it] turned out to be easy to use,” Thurgood Marshall College freshman Jeremy Bonner said. “I just walked in and out. It was really fast and easy and the staff were helpful.”

    Long lines and provisional-ballot shortages, hallmarks of the 2004 election, were largely absent this year due to increased awareness and additional sites and staff.

    “To correct [2004] mistakes, [the registrar] basically made sure there [were] two precincts in Price Center instead of one,” Pham said. “So that meant there were more polling booths and ballots given out.”

    UCSD political science professor Gary Jacobson said that participation in this election was important.

    “[This election] is crucial to Republicans and [President George W.] Bush because [the results] will determine the shape of the last two years of the administration,” Jacobson said.

    — Additional reporting by Jaclyn Appel, Casey Lo, Serena Renner and Sharon Yi, Staff Writers

    Readers can contact Silhan Jin at [email protected].

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