Because of an unexpectedly high voter turnout at polling locations on campus and an insufficient number of e-voting machines, many students were upset that they had to wait hours to vote on Nov. 2.
Ashley Brenner, a third-year history and anthropology major, was disappointed after having to wait almost two hours before she could vote at the polling location in Verano Place.
‘I’ve always voted absentee and I was like, ‘Oh, I’ll do it in person this year, it will be exciting,” Brenner said. ‘But it was frustrating and annoying to go and try to do your civic duty, and it takes so much time out of your day. From now on, I’ll definitely vote absentee.’
Douglas Ishii, a third-year English and comparative literature major, had to wait over three hours to cast his ballot at the polling location in the Cross-Cultural Center. Like Brenner, Ishii was frustrated with his experience.
‘It was pretty irritating,’ Ishii said. ‘I think [the Orange County Registrar of Voters] underestimated the amount of students that were going to vote. When we got to the front of the line, the workers were frustrated, obviously tired and unhappy.’
However, other students that waited in line took the experience in stride.
‘I stood outside the Cross-Cultural Center for a good 30 to 40 minutes around 4 p.m.,’ said Jon Bernal, a second-year engineering major. ‘I was willing to wait just to vote against Bush. Any time I could screw him over is worth it … I did it so that I would not regret not doing it.’
‘I stood in line for a while, but I passed the time by meeting new people,’ said June Ochoa, a first-year biological sciences major. ‘[The wait] didn’t bother me because it was my first time voting.’
Lines stretched for hundreds of feet outside both polling places. Approximately 400 students were still waiting to vote at 9:15 p.m., more than an hour after polls officially closed.
According to Brett Rowley, public information officer for the Orange County Registrar of Voters, all 9,000 of the county’s e-voting machines were being used in other polling places. He also said that the polling locations at the Cross-Cultural Center and Verano Place had nine and 10 e-voting machines, respectively, which was twice the number of e-voting machines than were at most other polling locations.
‘What we look at is how many registered voters are at each polling place and what the turnout there is generally,’ Rowley explained. ‘Based on that, we determine how many e-slates should go there.’
Rowley dismissed claims that students at UCI’s polling locations had to wait longer than most other voters around the county.
‘There was high turnout everywhere. There were patient voters everywhere,’ Rowley said. ‘We actually heard of the number of students there at 8 o’clock p.m. and we sent 12 more e-slates and four more pollworkers. It was the only location in the county that got that treatment.’
Aaron Thompson, a fourth-year history major and the New Voters Project coordinator, said that the number of voters at UCI was almost double from the 2000 election.
‘I believe overall at that polling location there were about twice as many students that voted in this election than the last election,’ Thompson said. ‘When I last talked to the O.C. Registrar of Voters only about 300 to 400 students voted in 2000 and this year it was about 700.’
Thompson, along with other New Voters Project members, alleviated the mood among students waiting in line to vote.
‘I personally stood outside the Cross-Cultural Center when the polls officially closed, because there were still 400 students lined up,’ Thompson said.
Ishii appreciated New Voters Project’s presence while he was waiting in line.
‘I do appreciate the New Voters Project and their support,’ Ishii said. ‘They were very patient and they definitely helped with free food and coffee.’
Voters constituting the youth vote, which includes individuals between the ages of 18 and 24, made up 17 percent of the entire voter population, the same percentage as in 2000. The only difference is that this year were garnered an extra 15 million youth voters. According to exit polls across the nation, more youth voters participated in this election than any other U.S. election since the 1970s.
Filed Under: News