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LTE: UNI makes unclear polling location announcement

Letter to the Editor

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Ward 2, Precinct 1 (The Quarters, Hillcrest, Gold Falls Villa): United Church of Christ, 9204 University Avenue

Ward 2, Precinct 2 (Hillside-Jennings, ROTH): Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 4000 Hudson Rd

Ward 3, Precinct 3 (Campbell, the Towers, UNI-Dome area): University Book and Supply, 1009 W 23rd St

Ward 4, Precinct 2 (College Hill Area, University Manor, Hidden Valley): Hearst Center, 304 Seerley Boulevard

Ward 4, Precinct 3 (the Quad, Lawther, Panther Village): Gilchrist Hall, Dakota St (On Campus)

This is where you can vote on Dec. 5, between 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., in the run-off election between Leann Saul and Rob Green for the Cedar Falls City Council at-large seat. If you don’t live in one of those precincts, you can use this URL to find your location: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterreg/pollingplace/search.aspx.

You cannot vote at a polling location that does not correspond with your precinct.

If you read Inside UNI or Northern Iowa Student Government (NISG) live tweets, you may have thought you could vote at Gilchrist no matter where you live. More than one professor did, and asked me and another student leader about it because it was unclear.

Trying to clear things up, I stopped by University Relations, which publishes Inside UNI. The student employee wasn’t sure, and said that their superior won’t be in the office until Monday.

I called the number listed in the announcement and received a voicemail, only to realize I had called the UNI Police, which was probably listed for parking concerns and not voting questions.

Finally, I called the Black Hawk County Auditor’s office, who administrate and manage elections. They informed me that Gilchrist is indeed a precinct-specific polling place and not open to all Cedar Falls voters. I then notified NISG and University Relations about this and asked them to spread the word.

Why was this original announcement so unclear? Why was it so difficult for me to find someone on campus who knew where students could vote?

Why did no one, seemingly beside me, think to call the county auditor to verify polling location information before sending an announcement to the entire campus community?

Why didn’t an administrator or other leader notice how incomplete the information was in the announcement and promptly make corrections?

UNI’s strategic plan claims their vision is to: “provide(s) an engaged education empowering students to lead locally and globally.” Community Engagement is supporting goal number three.

If community engagement matters, accurate and complete information on how to vote in local elections should be a higher priority for more people. While this mistake may seem small, it was even smaller and easier to prevent, and easy to fix quickly. Students, staff and faculty should not receive confusing information about polling locations.

— Danielle Templeton

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LTE: UNI makes unclear polling location announcement