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Campus voting centers report high turnout, low wait times

Voters casted their ballots at Ackerman Student Union and Bradley International Hall on Election Day with little wait time. (Kanishka Mehra/Photo editor)

By Rachel Durose and Hyeyoon (Alyssa) Choi

Nov. 3, 2020 6:52 p.m.

Correction: The original version of this article misspelled Elle Rieger's name.

This post was updated Nov. 3 at 9:41 p.m.

In-person voting at UCLA spiked on Election Day relative to early voting, but poll workers and voters said wait times were still nonexistent.

Unlike during the California primary elections in March, when some students waited more than four hours to cast their ballots, voters experienced little to no wait times during Tuesday’s election.

Two voting centers on campus – Ackerman Student Union and Bradley International Hall – opened their doors at 7 a.m. to let voters in. Although polls close at 8 p.m., people who are in line at 8 p.m. will still be able to vote.

Jennifer Stoudenmire, a poll worker at Bradley International Hall, said there was a consistent stream of people coming in, but no one had to wait.

Will Ewing, a poll worker at Ackerman Union said the amount of voters roughly doubled on Tuesday compared to all the previous four days of early voting. Jane Clements, a poll worker at Bradley International Hall, estimated the number may be closer to three to four times the number of voters compared to earlier in the week.

By 4 p.m. on Tuesday, at least 350 voters had cast their ballots at Ackerman Union’s polling center, said Mike Sanchez, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Clerk in an emailed statement.

The vote centers also implemented public health guidelines because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Voters are required to wear face coverings and social distance, according to the LA County Clerk website. Vote centers provide masks, gloves and hand sanitizers for voters and sanitize polling machines in between each use, the website added.

Mary Jasmine Lara, a second-year neuroscience student who voted at Ackerman Union, said the vote centers’ COVID-19 precautions mitigated her concerns about voting in-person.

“I’m pretty scared of (COVID-19),” Lara said, “Everything was socially distant. … They wiped down everything the moment I touched it.” 

Jocelyn Guihama, director of administration and experiential learning at the Luskin School of Public Affairs and a BruinsVote volunteer, said most of the voters she had observed on campus were dropping off mail-in ballots rather than standing in line to vote. (Kanishka Mehra/Photo editor)

The 2020 election feels historic even beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, some voters said.

Elle Rieger, a third-year communications student and first-time voter, said she woke up at 6:30 a.m. to avoid lines at the Ackerman Union.

“I just felt really excited to use my voice,” Rieger said. “And it feels really cool to be able to do that because it was my first time voting in the general election.

Claire Stockard, a third-year biology student who voted at Ackerman, said she voted because she felt strongly about immigration issues. 

“I have a lot of friends who are undocumented, and I’m mostly voting for my DREAM-er friends who deserve to stay in the country,” Stockard said.

BruinsVote, a student coalition that aims to promote voting, set up tables and dispatched volunteers on campus Wednesday to help voters navigate the polls.

Arden Dressner Levy, co-chair of BruinsVote, said BruinsVote saw high engagement with student voters during this election cycle.

Levy, a fourth-year international development studies student, said the BruinVote campaign has encouraged students to vote early or vote by mail.

“We’ve also been running get out the vote efforts for the past few weeks, encouraging people to vote early and to vote by mail,” Levy said.So we are actually expecting a pretty quiet day because we’ve been pushing early votes so hard (and) because of (COVID-19).”

Bonnie Macdougall, an Ackerman Union voter, said although she is stressed about the election, she has faith in the United States electoral system.

“I see everybody getting anxious, and the news is reporting election stress,” Macdougall said. “Certainly change is stressful, but I have faith in the system, and I look at it as a long-term process.”

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