MSC prepares for long lines, confused voters
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 01:10
With the Nov. 6 election approaching, the Marshall Student Center will serve as a voting precinct on Election Day, and MSC officials are trying to prevent the pile-up seen during the last election as more voters are expected to file in through the week.
“The MSC is the chosen area used as a voting precinct on campus because it has always been where students congregate on campus and is located in the center of campus,” Sujit Chemburkar, director of the MSC, said.
But in previous years, students have had to deal with long lines as they wait to cast their ballots.
Chemburkar and Greg Jackson, associate director of the MSC, said the wait was largely due to students who had to cast provisional ballots, or ballots provided to voters who did not change their home precincts to be the MSC or bring proper identification with them. Students who cast provisional ballots must have their home precinct verified, which can take some time.
Travis Abercrombie, Public Information Coordinator for the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Office, said the long lines were largely caused by the misperception that registering in Florida means you can vote anywhere in Florida.
“That isn’t the case,” he said. “As long as students were registered by Oct. 9, they can update their address to Hillsborough County if they want to vote at USF on Election Day,” he said. “If they don’t want to update their information to Hillsborough County, but still want to vote, they must contact their home county’s election office and request a vote-by-mail ballot by Oct. 31.”
Before the current MSC building was constructed in 2008, the previous MSC building was used as a voting precinct.
“(The MSC) is the heart building to host these types of events,” Chemburkar said.
Chemburkar and Jackson are preparing to have additional staff on hand at the MSC and are wrapping the lines outside the polling booths with stanchions for the polls, so that they cause a “minimal impact on (the everyday functions of) the interior building,” Chemburkar said.
Chemburkar and Jackson said though voting precincts are open to the public, they expect the majority of voters at the MSC will be students and faculty.
Ferguson Yacyshyn, a senior majoring in political science, feels that the Marshall Center serves its purpose when used as a voting precinct. Yacyshyn is a member of Organizers of America, an organization that spent the months prior to the voter registration deadline getting students registered.
Yacyshyn voted in the 2010 midterm elections, when the MSC was his assigned voting precinct.
“I think it went well. It was convenient for students and that was a really good thing. It made it easiest as possible for those (who) had registered,” he said.
According to the unofficial voter turnout results on the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections website, as of Oct. 28, the MSC’s precinct has recieved 22 ballots cast by mail and 12 early votes cast, which is a 1.8 percent turnout thus far.
As of Oct. 1, there are 1,896 people registered to vote at the MSC. Of this number, 770 are registered as Democrats, 450 as Republicans, 676 as non-party affiliated and 50 as “other,” Abercrombie said.
In the 2008 general election there were 1171 registered voters to vote at the MSC, precinct 353. Of those
registered to vote, 967 ballots were cast, resulting in a 82.58 percent turnout rate for the precinct, according to Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections’ website.
At the MSC, there are also 172 total voters who are classified as “inactive voters”. A voter may be listed as an “inactive” voter due to not updating their mailing address, or if an election-related piece of mail is unable to be delivered to the address the voter has provided.
To save time at the polls and keep the lines short, Chemburkar said that students should verify their home precinct with the Supervisor of Elections and that students also read over the ballot before arriving at the
precinct to vote.
Students can verify their home precinct by going to the Supervisor of Elections website: http://www.votehillsborough.org/.