Same-day registration a struggle

Many students were confused about legitimate documentation.

Taylor Selcke

Tim Olstad felt prepared when he went to vote Tuesday afternoon. He had studied the candidates, established his stance on the issues and knew his polling location.
What the third-year University of Minnesota student was not prepared for was being turned away âÄî more than once âÄî from the Seven Corners polling location.
âÄúThe biggest problem was that it wasnâÄôt clear as to what kind of documentation I needed,âÄù Olstad said. He had to make multiple trips back and forth from his apartment at Grand Marc to Seven Corners.
According to election judge Catherine McKegney, this has been the case for many voters.
In order to register and vote on Election Day, voters must provide a form of ID, a bill with their current name and address in the precinct, or be vouched for by a registered voter in the same precinct.
People hoping to register made many errors in the material they brought to polls, including utility bills with their spouseâÄôs name rather than their own, McKegney said.
Phillip Childs, a third-year University student and war veteran, was also trying to vote. âÄúI believe I fought for this right [to vote],âÄù he said. âÄúI just wish they made it easier for students.âÄù
As voters were turned away, they were given a sheet stating the many ways to become a valid voter in their precinct.
Lynn Anderson, an election judge at Van Cleve Community Center, said some voters donâÄôt return after theyâÄôre turned away. He was certain of two students who opted not to come back.
Fourth-year student Rebecca Emmons saw at least seven people being turned away.
âÄúI wish I couldâÄôve voted [at Coffman Union] because there are no places by my apartment in St. Paul,âÄù second-year student Erica Wipperfurth said. âÄúNow I donâÄôt know if I will have time in between my classes to get to the polls today.âÄù
But for other students, the same-day registration and voting went off without a hitch.
âÄúVoting was a fairly easy process,âÄù graduate student Laura Voss said. âÄúI wasnâÄôt pre-registered and I didnâÄôt have the necessary papers. I just printed out my student fee statement online prior to coming.âÄù
Pre-registration is key to making the election process easier and quicker, said Carmon Marg-Patton, an election judge at Van Cleve Community Center.
Unregistered voters were the main cause for backups and congestion at the polling locations on campus.
âÄúIf you do it ahead of time, there is a less likely chance of there being any problems,âÄù Marg-Patton said.
-Evelina Smirnitskaya contributed to this report.