RIT has its first on-campus voting site

Collaborative effort encourages students to exercise their right to vote

This year for the first time, eligible students at Rochester Institute of Technology will be able to cast their vote in a general election without leaving campus.

The Monroe County Board of Elections is establishing a polling station at RIT’s Gene Polisseni Center. RIT students registered to vote with their campus address as well as neighboring residents living in the voting district (Election District 3, Town of Henrietta) can cast their votes in the primary election this Thursday as well as on the general election on Nov. 6.

Deborah Stendardi, RIT’s vice president for Government and Community Relations, said RIT has been trying to have an on-campus voting site for several years.

“We’re very excited about having a polling place on campus this year,” she said. “This has also been a high priority for Student Government, and while this is a pilot year, we hope that we can continue to host the site and increase the number of election districts to make it as convenient as possible for our students who are registered to be able to vote right here on the campus. We also want to be welcoming hosts for our residential neighbors who will be coming on campus for these election days.”

Students have the option of registering to vote using their campus address, the local address at which they reside, or registering to vote in their home towns. Those wishing to vote locally have until Oct. 12 to register to vote in the general election on Nov. 6.

Only residents enrolled in a party holding a primary are eligible to vote on Thursday, and the deadline has passed for those not registered. Eligible students living anywhere in New York could vote in the primary via absentee ballot if they are postmarked by Sept. 12.

Voters must be at least 18 years old, be a U.S. citizen, be a resident of Monroe County for at least 30 days prior to the election and must not claim the right to vote elsewhere.

Stendardi said Student Government and the Division of Student Affairs have been working to “encourage student voter registration generally, whether it be with their campus address or wherever they choose to register as long as they participate in this important constitutional process.”

RIT Student Government President Bobby Moakley called the new polling place on campus “an incredible milestone in Student Government’s efforts with the university to raise awareness about the importance of voting. Even though not all students can vote at this site, it has already sparked tremendous conversations about current debates and mailing in absentee ballots.”

Voter turnout at the polling site on campus will be an important consideration in maintaining or expanding the site in future years, Stendardi said.

More information is available at the non-partisan RIT “Roar to Vote” website, including TurboVote, a resource designed to help students register to vote and request absentee ballots.  

Stendardi calls the polling site a collaborative effort that has received support from the Monroe County Board of Elections, Henrietta town officials, RIT’s Parking and Transportation Services, University Arenas, Public Safety and RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, which will provide sign language interpreting services.

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