Dartmouth changed voting site to UMass Dartmouth to increase turnout

DARTMOUTH — College students can vote in the upcoming election without leaving the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth campus next week.

The new Ward 3, formerly located at Dartmouth Bible Church near the university, has been moved in a bid to involve more students in exercising their right to vote.

For Maxwell White, UMass Dartmouth student administrator on the UMass Board of Trustees, co-chair of the UMass Dartmouth Model United Nations, and vote captain for the UMass Dartmouth Votes Coalition, it’s a welcome change.

“I think this will really help students get more engaged in voting so that we don’t have so many people saying ‘oh, we don’t want to vote’ or ‘our vote doesn’t count,'” a- he declared. “Hopefully it will go down because now we can show it’s not that hard.”

Students at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth have registered to vote and other voters in Precinct 3 will be able to do so here on campus on Tuesday, November 8.

He said everyone involved in putting this together wants it to be a good experience for present and future elections, not just for students, but for voters who will be voting for the first time in a different location.

“It will also be great to see, at least with our neighborhood, that nearby Dartmouth residents are also part of the community here,” he said.

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With the election of Dartmouth’s new Town Clerk, Sarah Haskell Arruda, there was an opportunity to raise the possibility of a constituency change again.

He said there had been resistance to making the switch in the past, but Arruda was great to work with and accommodating to being on the same page.

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White said much of the credit goes to Deirdre Healy, director of UMass Dartmouth’s office of community services and partnerships, and Ryan Merrill, director of strategic communications and media relations, who helped lead the effort by contacting Arruda and asking to meet her on campus to work out the logistics.

Arruda had to go through a process to meet the criteria for using a site as a polling place with notification to the state and city before notifying voters of the change. She said there used to be an enclosure on campus, but she doesn’t know why a change was made.

“I know the city and the university are trying to partner more in all aspects of government and business here in the city, so when (Max) reached out to me about possibly moving him, I was thrilled to do so. “, she said.

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Voters in the state’s primary in September received postcards and she mailed every voter in the new precinct ahead of the November election. Arruda made the final decision on the location on campus, making sure it would be a safe place.

Voters are asked to park in Market Square car park five, the Old Dining Hall, and follow the signs left to the ballot boxes on the second floor. Arruda said it was a short walk, but more importantly it was accessible with open space and little foot traffic. There will be many signs.

How UMass Helps

The university arranged for the students to be poll workers. The city will set up the polling place the night before and there will be six to 10 people on site during election hours. University employees will work at the polls to ensure continuity for future elections.

Arruda said the university has done everything possible to address concerns ranging from how voters will find the exact voting location on campus to whether or not vehicles will be ticketed, what they won’t, and appreciates the effort. Anyone who tries to vote at the church will be directed to the new neighborhood.

There are about 450 registered voters in the precinct, including some residents outside the university, so turnout is generally low. In the past, the university has organized a shuttle service to the church. This time, the university was asked to help encourage students to enroll.

“Hopefully if we have it on campus it won’t stop students from voting and they’ll be more likely to show up,” she said.

Dartmouth continues to offer early voting from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. November 1 through November 4, at the Dartmouth City Hall Clerk’s Office. Polling stations will be open in all constituencies from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, November 8.

Rather than a 34% student turnout in 2018 in the last midterm elections, White said they were hoping for a 40-45 turnout because of their efforts since September to get the word out. with the help of the MASSPIRG chapter of the university.

White said the next step leading up to Election Day will be to remind students they can vote on campus from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

He said the goal of the UMass Dartmouth Votes Coalition since the 2016 election has been to increase voter turnout year after year.

“We’ve had our voting coalition here working to increase voter turnout, and the big challenge we’ve always had is that we have to say you can vote but you have to take the shuttle or drive to that other place and it didn’t appeal to most students, so now it’s great,” he said.

Standard-Times editor Kathryn Gallerani can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @kgallreporter. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.