Univ. arranges rides to polls

Megan Angelo

A coalition of campus groups will offer free transportation to the polls on Election Day in an effort to help all locally registered Villanova students cast their votes.

The Campus Activities Team, Student Government Association and Democracy Matters have collaborated to arrange for at least two buses to shuttle students from two campus locations to the polls on Nov. 2. The groups originally planned to send vans on the hour. In order to accommodate a greater number of passengers, they are now working to secure full-size school buses to run more than once an hour.

A schedule of the times of departure for the buses will be e-mailed to all undergraduate students later in the week. The coalition plans to offer students the option to reserve a spot ahead of time and will also keep a wait list to fill open spots on each ride.

“The idea really came up in conversations during the post-registration time,” said Katie Krackenberger, senior and chairperson of the SGA social justice committee. “All these kids are already registered, and we realized we really needed to give an actual incentive to get out and vote.”

The promise of free rides may be a welcome bit of assistance for many students who have found the voting process dizzying thus far. Some students who registered in the Villanova area are still waiting for their registration cards to arrive with just two business days left until the polls open.

Part of the confusion has stemmed from a widespread rumor that a county border runs through the Villanova campus. “I was told that West was part of Montgomery County, so I filled that in, and I haven’t received my confirmation yet,” said junior Brian Atiya. “I keep hearing different stories about where the county line is.”

Freshman Adam Lapinski, who lives on South campus, began to worry when he heard that South and Main campus fell into Montgomery County. He said a representative from an outside organization approached him on South weeks ago and helped him register to vote. “They told me it was Delaware County, and they gave me an envelope stamped and addressed to Delaware County,” Adam said.

Area officials confirmed Monday that the campus lies only in Delaware County. Patti Allen, assistant director of voter services for Montgomery County, said that the office has been receiving ballots from Villanova students and that they “are shipping them all down to Delaware County.”

CAT assistant director Maura McDaid said she is unsure of how the county border rumor spread throughout the student body but that she suspects that representatives from the Department of State who registered students at the Dean-Bennett debates on Parents’ Weekend may have accidentally misled people. An e-mail from the student groups arranging the rides further propagated the myth (another e-mail has since corrected the first one).

“I’ve been trying to trace the source of the misinformation, but I haven’t been able to do that accurately so far,” McDaid said.

McDaid said that she has been working with area officials to remediate the mix-ups.

“I’ve talked to voter registration in Delaware and Montgomery and they don’t think it’s going to be problematic,” she said, adding that all students who registered before the deadline will be able to vote in Delaware county whether they receive their card in time or not. Poll workers will look up voters’ names, and if they are not yet listed, those voters may complete provisional ballots that will be verified later. In addition first-time voters must bring a photo ID to the polls.

The misunderstandings about voting locations have raised concerns among political groups on campus. “We have had some concerns from members and those registered as Republicans in Pennsylvania,” said College Republicans president Phil Consuegra in an e-mail on Wednesday. “No person should ever be denied the right to vote because of disorganization in the government.”

College Democrats President Eric Biersmith, a junior, said he feels worried after being approached by many bewildered students. Besides the county line ambiguities, Biersmith said people who have tried to contact the voting services offices through the numbers listed on the SGA e-mail “are having trouble talking to the people they called for.” But others are saying their problems are being solved, and Biersmith is hopeful that all complications can be smoothed out in time.

“The election could very well come down to a few hundred votes,” he said. “And those votes could be cast by Villanova students.”