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Early polling site at UA OK'd

By Jesse Lewis
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, October 4, 2004
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After months of negotiations, ASUA's request for an early polling site on campus has been approved and will be the capstone of their effort to promote civic engagement.

The polling site, which will accommodate everyone living in Pima County, regardless of district, will be in the conference room on the third floor of the UofA Bookstore in the Student Union Memorial Center.

Anyone registered to vote in Pima County will be able to vote at the site, regardless of district, because staff will have all district's ballots on hand, said Alistair Chapman, Associated Students of the University of Arizona president.

The site will be open for voting one week before the Nov. 2 general election.

Students and community members can vote in the ASUA office the week of Oct. 25 to 29 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., said F. Ann Rodriguez, Pima County Recorder, in a press release issued Friday.

The conference room, which opens to a large waiting area, will be a convenient and accessible spot to usher people through to vote, Chapman said.

The site will be staffed by the Pima County Recorder's office and some ASUA volunteers will also be on hand to keep the week running smoothly.

ASUA members will keep control of lines and ensure there is no campaigning within 75 feet of the voting booths, said Blake Buchanan, Arizona Students' Association Task Force director.

Chapman was not sure how many separate booths will be in the conference room, but said Rodriguez anticipates a high turnout.

ASA Director Ryan Patterson said he thinks the voting site is very important to the UA and is positive reinforcement of the need for civic engagement.

"I honestly think this is one of the most important things to come out of our office this year," Patterson said.

Chapman, Buchanan and Patterson have worked closely with Rodriguez since July to try to get the site on campus.

"The implementation of an early voting site on campus is the capstone of our effort to civically engage our students. Student leaders look forward to working closely with F. Ann Rodriguez and the Pima County Recorder's office to make this a great success," Chapman said in a press release.

Negotiations for the site were hindered because of parking accommodation issues, which Chapman said have been rectified.

The Recorder's office said parking for the site must be accessible to the whole community, Chapman said.

Parking and Transportation Services will award everyone using the polling site a free parking voucher for Second Street garage for the amount of time it takes them to vote, including wait times.

Buchanan anticipates most of the voters who use the site will already be on campus, and there will not be a high volume of cars to park in the garage.

There will be five parking spots reserved in the garage to accommodate the people who do come from off-campus to vote.

"Anybody is able to vote, no matter if you live on campus. We are not expecting a lot of people to come from off-campus," Buchanan said.

The site is one of nine early polling sites in the Tucson area, according to the Pima County Recorder's office Web site.

This is the first time there has ever been an early polling site on campus, Chapman said.

If the request for this site was not approved, the closest place to campus that students could vote on Nov. 2 is First Christian Church, 740 E. Speedway Blvd.

Chapman hopes there will be a big turnout at the polls, and he plans on doing as much as he can to get the word out.

"It's in a central location (on campus), and we plan to advertise heavily. We are hoping to get a lot of people," Chapman said.

Buchanan said the approval of the site is a nod from Rodriguez on the importance of the student vote.

Patterson also said he hopes the site will be successful enough that it will be a polling place for years to come.

"We are hoping to make this work so that we can lay the foundation and build a relationship to continue this in elections to come," Patterson said.

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