Temple student advocates for on-campus polling place

Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania already have on-campus polling places.

Scott Vassa, a junior art therapy major, accepts a local candidate’s flyer on his way into Amos Recreation Center to cast his first-ever vote in the midterm elections in November 2018. | ZARI TARAZONA / FILE PHOTO

Could students vote on Election Day without leaving Main Campus? 

The question is at the center of a Temple University student’s push to create an on-campus polling place in time for the upcoming presidential election.

Quinn Litsinger, a sophomore political science major, has been working with university leadership and the Office of the City Commissioners to explore whether Main Campus could be home to a polling place on Nov. 3, wrote Litsinger, who is also Temple Student Government’s director of government affairs, in an email to The Temple News. 

“All the local community organizations that run the nearby polling places are great, but for students to have a place that’s convenient for them on campus throughout their day-day routine would really be a great way to increase civic engagement,” Litsinger said in an interview with The Temple News.

Last week, Temple’s Office of Governmental Affairs met with staff from the Office of the Philadelphia City Commissioners and discussed the requirements for a voting center on campus, Litsinger wrote. A polling place would need a hardwired internet connection, access to power for a printer, and to be in a building that is publicly accessible, he wrote.

The commissioner’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Providing students an on-campus polling place would not only increase civic engagement for students but also decrease the burden on the community when students vote in high numbers, Litsinger wrote.

In the 2019 general election, there were 17 polling places between 9th and 18th streets and Jefferson Street and Susquehanna Avenue, according to data from the Office of the Philadelphia City Commissioners. 

In the 2016 presidential election, students had to wait in lines for as long as four hours before casting their ballots at polling places like the Penrose Recreation Center on Susquehanna Avenue near 11th Street, The Temple News reported. 

The University of Pennsylvania has several polling locations on campus, according to Penn Leads the Vote, a civic engagement organization at UPenn. All students in resident halls at Drexel University vote on-campus in the Drexel Armory on 33rd Street near Cuthbert, according to the university’s website.

Litsinger has considered the Student Center as a polling location because it does not require an ID to enter, though nothing is set in stone, Litsinger wrote.

Litsinger’s efforts are part of a wider push to increase student civic engagement by Temple Votes, a working group of students and administrators formed in December 2019, said Chris Carey, the university’s senior associate dean of students.

Turnout among 18-34-year-olds in Philadelphia increased by 111 percent in the 2018 midterm election relative to 2014, WHYY reported.

Rehana Ramcharitar, a senior criminal justice and Spanish double major, said she is registered to vote at her parent’s house in Northeast Philadelphia because she has heard “horror stories” about long lines near campus.

“I think it would be a good idea to have a polling place on campus because it couldn’t hurt to have one more polling place in such a densely populated area, especially because community members have to vote here as well,” Ramcharitar said. 

Jacob Marder, a freshman political science major, said knowing where to vote can be confusing because resident halls have different polling locations.

“Having a place to vote on campus would make it a lot easier for me to vote while attending classes,” Marder said. It would mean that I would be able to go in between classes instead of having to go to the polling place in the morning or night.”

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