UNI hosts early in-person voting


Gelase Magnificat

In-person voting may be done early in the UNI-Dome by all who are registered to vote in Black Hawk County.

EMMA'LE MAAS, Executive Editor

On Tuesday, Sept. 7, UNI students and Cedar Falls residents lined up outside the UNI-Dome to cast their early ballots. With the 2020 election less than one month away, early voting in Iowa began on Oct. 5 and will continue until Nov. 2.

During the 2016 election, UNI’s campus had the highest voter turnout between Iowa’s three state universities. In fact, the campus was ranked second in the nation for student voter turnout in that election, with 67.5% of eligible students casting their ballots, according to a campus-wide email from President Mark Nook.

Despite the pandemic, students are still turning out to the polls four years later.

First-time voter and sophomore Madeline Hibs expressed just how important the youth vote is in this election.

“I hope that a bunch of young people vote. The young people’s vote is so incredibly important to sway,” she said. “I hope that we get what we need to get done.”

Senior English education major Kailey Schmidt agreed, appealing to her peers to fulfil their civic duty.

“It’s something that everyone has the right to do, and it would be negligent not to use it,” she said. “You’re actively giving away your chance to use your voice.”

Schmidt was also very excited about voting for the first time.

“It’s something that I’ve been looking forward to since the last (presidential) election, since I wasn’t able to vote in the last election,” she said.

Since this is early voting, this weeks voters will have to wait to see the results. This year’s large number of predicted absentee ballots and mail-in votes means that the final confirmation of the election may not come on Nov. 3 itself, and may possibly stretch weeks into November. According to the New York Times, the state of Washington is not requiring mail-in ballots to be returned until Nov. 23, 20 days after the traditional “Election Day.”

  All students interviewed at the UNI-Dome Tuesday cited concerns with mail-in voting as their reasoning to vote early in-person.

“I was scared my vote wouldn’t count,” Hibs said.

When it came down to the ballot itself, social justice and environmental concerns were the top issues influencing students’ votes.

Sophomore environmental science major Laura Spies said, “For me, it seems kind of obvious… when it comes to policy, for me, number one is climate change.”

Schmidt added, “We just want to create a better society and build a better future.”

Early voting at the UNI-Dome continues throughout the rest of the week. Polls are open today from 3-7 p.m., Friday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Black Hawk County has also announced the site will be used again for general voting on Nov. 3 from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. The county cited the UNI-Dome’s easy maintenance for COVID-19 safety guidelines during election season.

All those registered to vote in Black Hawk County may use the UNI-Dome as a polling place. Voters coming this week are encouraged to register ahead, even though Iowa’s registration deadline is not until Oct. 24.

Whatever method they’re using to casting their ballots, voters like Hibs hope the election will result in something greater.

“I want change,” she said. “We need change.”