By Ashley Duong
The Orange County Registrar of Voters held early voting at UCI last Tuesday, Nov. 1, where students, faculty and Orange County citizens were given the opportunity to cast their ballots a week before Election Day. Many students took advantage of the accessibility of the early voting station, with over 620 ballots cast at UCI according to the Registrar of Voters.
A mobile polling station from the Registrar was set up at the flagpoles at the front of the campus from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for any voters registered in Orange County. Voters were not required to go to their designated polling location to cast their vote during early voting.
The station included tables set up both inside and outside for people to sit and fill out their ballots, as well as a drop-off box for people voting by mail. Voters lined up by the staircase leading to the campus with IDs in hand as they waited to receive their ballots to vote.
“I wanted to get it done because I actually have a midterm on Election Day,” said second-year psychology and social behavior (PSB) student Selene Nguyen while waiting by the station to vote. “Doing it today is more convenient, and it’s easy to just come from class and stop to vote.”
Fourth-year PSB and education major Elizabeth Avila also agreed that having the station on campus made it easier for her to vote.
“I’m actually registered [in] Anaheim, so [early voting] definitely makes it more convenient for me to vote.”
Neal Kelley, head of the Registrar and chief election official for the county, said that the Registrar works to “give people many opportunities to exercise their right to vote and early voting is one way [they] do that.”
He acknowledged that Election Day often gets hectic with long lines that many citizens do not have the time for, which makes access to early voting incredibly important for this election.
“There’s going to be long lines, and it’s going to be busy, so if people want to avoid that, they have all these days ahead to vote early.”
Kelley noted that many individuals did decide to vote early, stating that “County-wide, for early voting … we’ve had 7,500 voters. And people who voted by mail, there have been 360,000 [voters].”
Kelley concluded by saying that California’s flexible rules concerning the absentee ballot make voting within the state easy for everyone, a feature not shared by many other states. Whereas anyone can receive an absentee ballot in California regardless of whether the person is actually out of the county or state during the election, other states, like Texas, require citizens to prove that they will be gone during the election before being commissioned an absentee ballot.
“In California, you have no excuse to not vote … you can vote by mail or absentee, which means that it is almost completely accessible, because anyone can request a ballot at any time,” said Kelley.
“We have 1,100 polling places we operate on Election Day, on top of the fact that we have six voting centers that we operate countywide, so there are so many opportunities for people to vote … to cast a ballot at least 30 days before Election Day when compared to other states. We make it extremely accessible for everyone to vote.”