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ASU to have general election polling center for first time in 10 years

Voters get a sticker to encourage others to vote at voting precinct 2033 in the Tarrant County Sub-Courthouse in Mansfield, Texas, Tuesday, November 6, 2012. (Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)

ASU students have not had an on-campus polling center since 2006 — a 10-year trend which will break just in time for the November election. 

In an overarching collaboration between ASU Young DemocratsASU College RepublicansTempe Undergraduate Student Government and the Maricopa County Recorder's Office, the Sun Devil Fitness Complex has been approved to serve as a polling place for two precincts containing Tempe ASU students during the Nov. 8 general election.

The process

Tempe USG President Brandon Bishop said he and some fellow students first raised the idea while attending a meeting conducted by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

“After that, it kind of started rolling really fast where the county was starting to be on board with it,” he said. “We talked to the University, and the University was open to it and actually helped us secure locations on campus.”

A letter signed by Bishop, the presidents of ASU Young Democrats and ASU College Republicans and the executive director of the Arizona Advocacy Network was then sent to the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office for review regarding recommended on-campus polling locations.

As the plan gained traction, Bishop said he and members of the Recorder's Office took a tour around the first two proposed ASU locations — Wells Fargo Arena and the SDFC.

He said the Recorder's Office sent email confirmation a week later and is currently working on getting through all the paperwork. 

“I think this will be a great way to show where young people are at in regards to the issues and campaigns,” he said. “It’s really going to bring to the forefront that college students and young people are really a part of this political process.”

Where it could have been

Before the approval of the SDFC polling location, Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell responded to complaints over one of the previously proposed polling locations, The Knights of Pythias Lodge on the northwest corner of McClintock Drive and Apache Boulevard.

On Facebook, Purcell wrote that the first three proposed on-campus locations fell through, and that the lodge was the only available option at the time.

Had The Knights of Pythias Lodge been the permanent polling location, ASU students living on-campus and without transportation would have had to walk at least a mile to be able to vote in person.

Early voting location: overlooked?

Purcell also wrote that there had been an early voting location on campus in the Safety Escort Office in the Palo Verde West building that was open from Aug. 8 - 26 for the primary election.

ASU Young Democrats President Austin Marshall said the early voting location was not common knowledge.

“It’s not very well advertised,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know about it.”

However, Marshall said this will not be the case with the SDFC.

“We’re going to be making sure people know about it,” he said. “We got it done, but now we have to make sure people actually get there.”

Possible concerns

Kevin Calabrese, president of ASU College Republicans, said slim room for concern does exist with the campus polling center.

Arizona law partially requires state-issued identification on the part of potential voters, which could pose a problem for out-of-state students who have not changed their identification, he said. 

“One concern that critics said about this is that a lot of students that do live on campus are from out of state,” he said.

Calabrese said some students don’t switch their state IDs or driver’s licenses, possibly hindering their ability to vote in an Arizona election.

He said there should be no reason for out-of-state students to have to change their IDs in order to vote. 

Bipartisanship on campus

Although an election ultimately pits two parties against one another, student activists from both sides of the aisle came together to establish the forthcoming polling center. 

Marshall said there was no difficulty collaborating with the ASU College Republicans on the matter, despite the difference in their respective political agendas.

“When I sent the idea to them, they bought on instantly and were good partners with this,” he said. “I think it’s important to show not just the students on campus, but the greater Tempe-Phoenix community, that there’s room for bipartisanship.”

This notion of bipartisanship was welcomed by ASU College Republicans President Kevin Calabrese, who said both organizations exist to facilitate political activism among students.

“Both of our organizations are centered around getting students involved in the political process,” he said. “I really appreciated working with Young Democrats and its president.”

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