This year marks the 25th anniversary of the 26th amendment, which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. Fittingly, this year students at the University of Rochester are finding that getting to the polls has been made easier than ever.
The polling location that serves residents of Legislative District 25, Election District 16 has been moved closer to the University campus due in part to student demand. In addition, for the first time, students can register to vote using their campus address.
The polling site, originally at St. Anne Church on Mt. Hope Avenue, has been changed to the University's Helen Wood Hall on Crittenden Boulevard, the only campus polling location in Monroe County. The church site was quite a hike for students, who represent a good portion of the local residents who use the polls. Many students do not have ready access to transportation.
For the first time, the Board of Elections this year is allowing students to use their campus addresses to register to vote, eliminating the paperwork required to cast absentee ballots at home. More than 250 University students have registered to vote as part of the student-run campus voter registration drive. In addition, students who favor absentee ballots have applied for them during the drive.
Nationwide, students are a largely untapped voting block. Required absentee ballots and polling sites far from campuses help explain the fewer numbers of students who vote compared with older adults. In 1994, only 20 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds voted, compared with 56 percent of 45- to 64-year-olds.
The University's Susan B. Anthony University Center and Office of Minority Student Affairs are co-sponsoring the voter registration drive. Many student groups have adopted the drive as their fall project, sending their members to staff the table in Wilson Commons since the drive began Sept. 9. Friday, Oct. 11 is the last day to register to vote.
Voters outside the University should contact the Board of Elections for directions to Helen Wood Hall and for parking information.