Monroe County Election Board members are being asked to open a centrally-located poling site near Indiana University.
Sandra Shapshay is the director of IU’s Political and Civic Engagement Program, or PACE. She says voter participation among Indiana University students is below the national average for college campuses.
Speaking in last week’s election board meeting, Shapshay said PACE launched an initiative in 2016 to increase student electoral engagement. As a result, she says nearly three thousand more students voted and the registration rate increased as well.
Still, Shapshay says the single best tool to increase student participation is an easily accessible polling place. That’s why she’s working on a Memorandum of Understanding with administrators at Indiana Memorial Union to designate the University Club as a polling site.
Election Board member William Ellis says polling sites that are accessible from campus already exist.
In previous election board meetings, Ellis indicated he was soured on the idea of an on-campus polling site because of Americans with Disabilities Act compliance issues in years past. Shapshay says handicap accessibility shouldn’t be an issue at the IMU.
Shapshay also assured board members the IMU could offer free parking, including handicapped parking.
Election Supervisor Karen Wheeler says 4700 registered voters within four precincts could be affected by the creation of a new campus voting site.
According to Monroe County Clerk Nicole Browne, IU is willing to offer the site free of charge. She says IU will also reimburse the county for the cost of notifying those voters whose poling cites would change. Browne says she hopes an agreement with the university will come before the Election Board for a vote in its February 1st meeting.
Both the IU College Democrats and College Republicans support a central campus polling place. Maura Kehoe with the College Democrats spoke in favor of the proposal during last week’s Election Board meeting.
Shaphay says the Political and Civic Engagement Program will continue its voter participation push in 2018, through the Big Ten Voting Challenge.
In other business, Browne says anyone wishing to run for office in 2018 can file their candidacy beginning January 10th through February 9th at Noon. She reviewed this year’s ballot.
Browne says candidate information packets are available at Election Central, located at 214 West 7th Street in Bloomington.