A surge of students voting at the University of Albany was too much initially for the Albany County Board of Elections to handle.
The problems at the polling site in the Campus Center at UAlbany included a lack of ballots, problems with the emergency voting procedures implemented in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and requests for voter identification.
Some problems stemmed from the fact that the campus is divided into different legislative districts, which meant there were two different voting lines depending on where a student lived. These lines led junior Katrina Ryan to spend more than an hour trying to vote, as she was first sent to the wrong line.
Throughout her afternoon wait, which she said was frustrating, it never dawned on her to simply step out of line. “For me not to vote would be a slap in the face,” said Ryan, who is a minority and a woman.
Democratic poll watcher Harrison Watkins, 27, said the confusion Ryan faced was not unusual on Election Day at the Campus Center.
One of the problems he witnessed were poll workers asking students for identification, which is not necessary unless certain identification information was missing from a registration. Watkins said there also weren’t enough supplies, like ballots, with students having to wait from 45 minutes to an hour at one point.
“I talked to students who had to go to work or class and they really wanted to vote, so I’m disappointed there weren’t sufficient resources,” he said. “There were a few folks who had to go.”
Another stumbling block was over the executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which allowed voters registered in counties declared emergency zones because of Sandy to vote basically anywhere. He said workers at the Campus Center weren’t familiar with this provision, which impacted students who couldn’t go home to vote. “We had to get copies of the executive order and eventually worked it out with the Board of Elections,” Watkins said.
He added that the whole process began to move a lot smoother when the officials from the BOE showed up to oversee things.
Even with the hiccups, Ryan still was positive about the experience, which was her first presidential election. “It was still cool that I got to vote and everything,” she said.