Students’ commitment leads to on-campus polling center

Geneseo will have an on-campus polling center in the Kuhl Gymnasium for the upcoming presidential election on Nov. 8 due to a high percentage of registered student voters. The polling station will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. for on-campus registered student voters, according to Geneseo Taskforce leader junior Sarah Jane Phillips. The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 14.

The Geneseo Taskforce of Voter Registration and Engagement collaborated with the Andrew Goodman Foundation—an organization that promotes young voices in the democracy—as well as Village of Geneseo Trustees senior Matthew Cook and sophomore Mary Rutigliano to increase the number of students registered to vote.

The last time there was an on-campus polling station was in 2008. Since then, students have been using off-campus polling stations.

One of the major concerns with the off-campus polling station was student safety, as students without vehicular transportation would have to walk across a highway, according to Cook. This was a factor that discouraged many students from going out to vote.

“We’re also looking at the numbers of people that had come out to vote, and ever since that polling place was taken away there’s been about, I’d say, 500-1,000 less voters every election that come up and actually voted,” Cook said. “So we were looking at what ways we could bring that number back up, as well as make that cost efficient for both the village and the town.”

For the 2008 election cycles, Geneseo was recognized for a high voter turnout compared to the national average of student voters across college campuses—the average percentage of student voters was 59.7 percent and Geneseo maintained a 65 percent voter turnout, according to the Geneseo website.

The stereotype that millennials do not vote is untrue, because of the large number of students interested in voting at the college, Cook said.

“It doesn’t matter if you vote Republication, Libertarian, Democrat or whatever you choose,” Cook said. “It just depends on making your voice be heard and making your opinion heard.”

Geneseo Taskforce leaders senior Katelyn Tzavelis and Phillips helped register over 1,000 students since last fall during move-in day. The duo also set up tables in the MacVittie College Union and visited different student organizations.

“With the support of both the Taskforce and Andrew Goodman Foundation, we started doing different voter registration drives at events that really promote voter registration and education on campus,” Tzavelis said.

Phillips argued that students who do not vote can not complain if they are unhappy about the election results.

“If you don’t go vote and participate, whether it be for the two main candidates or a third party, you can’t complain about the results because you didn’t go out and participate with the rest of the United States of America,” Phillips said. “You didn’t go out with the rest of the citizens who went out to exercise their right to vote.”

Tzavelis echoed Phillips’ sentiment.

“It’s upsetting to hear that everybody has an opinion and nobody is afraid to say it, but they will not exercise their right as a citizen to vote,” Tzavelis said.

Rutigliano reiterated the importance in students voicing their opinions by voting. She said this was a major factor that pushed the campaign to register more students to vote.

“I think it’s important that as many people as possible can have a voice,” Rutigliano said. “Students weren’t registered in the numbers that they should have been and that was a motivation.”