Shame on the University of Colorado administration and shame on Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall. The location of the “campus” voting center this year is so misleading, remote and obscure that it is effectively suppressing the vote of CU students.
Colorado has revolutionized voting with its new mail-in ballot election system, combined with voting centers if mail-in ballots are not preferable or feasible for some voters. Since college students usually change addresses at least once a year, these voting centers are a crucial backup.
College students, like every citizen over 18 years of age, are constitutionally guaranteed the right to vote. But the location of the CU voting center places a burden upon that right.
The university, campaigns from both parties and third party groups have been advertising for months that a place to turn in ballots, register to vote or simply ask questions about the election would be available at CU’s recreation center. When this voting center opened on campus on October 20th, students quickly found that the voting center was not at the place they consider the recreation center.
Walking to the recreation center, through the doors and into the large lobby, one would expect to clearly see where the voting center was located. Nope. That is because the voting center is not easily accessible through the main entrance of the recreation center.
Upon leaving the main entrance, one would be lucky to notice the tiny sign that says “vote” with an arrow directing students into a maze of construction fences. Then, it takes at least five minutes of walking at a steady clip, following more small “vote” signs, before finding yourself at another opening in the maze of fences near Folsom Field that direct you back into the alleyway between the recreation center and Folsom.
Walk almost two hundred more yards north near where opposing football teams enter Folsom and there is a sign pointing to a set of dark doors in the basement of the recreation center building. This is where students are supposed to go to exercise their right to vote — a far-away room where students have never been before.
Ask any student on campus if they are familiar with this location on campus, or if they would even consider it as being part of the recreation center, and they will most likely say no. It would be hard to blame anyone for being so confused that they gave up their search for the ballot box this year.
CU can do much better. County Clerk Hall and her staff can do much better. The campus voting location for this election cannot be changed, so it is up to all of us to remind our friends that despite the obstacles and confusion, access to the polls is still available on “campus”.
Something must change for future elections. I call on Clerk Hall and the CU administration to begin a dialogue with the students and find a location that actually serves them, rather than impose a burden on their right to vote. CU should have dozens of students lined up to vote, rather than forcing them through a confusing maze of construction that leads to an empty polling center.
Dylan Roberts, CU law student and student government senator