Separate locations lead to confusion
On Super Tuesday, March 3, students and Davis residents alike had the opportunity to vote in the presidential primary election and other local elections at on-campus polling places. Polling places opened at 7 a.m. and remained open until 8 p.m.
Voters had the option to vote at two locations on campus: the MU or the Russell Park apartment complexes. Voters registered in Yolo County with mail-in ballots also had the option to drop off their ballots at on-campus polling stations.
Despite planning in advance to make it easier for Yolo County residents and students to vote, UC Davis published an additional statement in response to voter confusion at on-campus polling places.
“Registered voters should vote at their assigned polling place (which, if you have a campus address, may be the Garrison Room in the Memorial Union,)” the statement said. “If you are registered elsewhere in Yolo County, and still wish to vote on campus, you should ask for a provisional ballot.”
One Reddit user, u/korge1000, posted a thread about issues they had voting.
“Admin at UC Davis has been advertising for the last week that any student can vote at the student union building, but now they are rejecting students,” the thread said. “The poll workers are arguing that only people who live on campus can vote there but the website explicitly says that any student can vote there.”
Students in the Reddit thread also commented on the length of polling place lines. One student claimed to have been in line for more than an hour.
In addition to long lines at UC Davis, other campuses across the country reported similar trends on Super Tuesday. Across California and Texas, many voters faced hours-long lines to vote, according to a report from The Guardian.
On-campus polling places are one way the UC hopes to boost student voter turnout. According to the UC website, just more than half of students registered to vote in the 2018 midterm elections actually voted.
With student voter turnout already statistically low, UC campuses aimed to improve students’ likelihood of voting. In reality, long lines at polling stations likely had the opposite effect. According to one study, every additional hour voters have to wait to vote decreases their probability of voting.
Voters also had the option to participate in same-day voter registration in the ASUCD offices on the third floor of the MU. This was in a different location than general on-campus polling places, creating some confusion for voters on March 3.
In addition to the UC system’s efforts to improve young voter turnout, student organizations have been working since Fall Quarter to register students.
Noah Dickman, the president of the Davis College Republicans, worked early in the year to get new and returning students to register to vote.
“Our voter registration drive was in October and consisted of tabling at the Memorial Union and going door-to-door in a few neighborhoods to make sure as many individuals as possible are registered to vote.”
The Davis College Democrats have also helped register students and community members to vote.
“This year we registered over 600 voters,” said Molly Mermin, the executive director for the Davis College Democrats. “And we’ll be doing more throughout the general election season.”
Written by: Ally Russell — firstname.lastname@example.org