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College Park City Council Considering Voting Process Change, Could Increase Student Voters

by AMBER EBANKS

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Photograph obtained from the ExpressVote Universal Voting System website.

Members of the College Park City council have discussed whether the city of College Park should purchase electronic voting machines and the associated software from Election Systems & Software, LLC (ES&S) for the upcoming November 3rd elections. According to ES&S, public officials who aim to administer fair and accurate elections should use the machines.

The city council will require close to $3,000 to buy the ballots, which are 29 cents per ballot. After entering the ballots into a machine, the results will be instantaneous. Members of the community that help with voting will have to be trained on how to use the software, which will also be used during the 2016 presidential election.

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Council Members during the city council meeting on September 22nd, 2015 (Screenshot)

The software is beneficial for College Park because “everyone is voting, many people (are) running and more people are voting,” said Jack Robson, the Chief of the Board of Elections for the College Park. “Paper ballots were previously used subject to human era, and we’re expecting 1,000 more voters.”

The Board of Elections expects a higher voter turn out because members of the current city council are giving up their seats to run for Mayor.

In previous meetings, the College Park City Council has discussed lowering the voting age for the elections to 16. They’ve also discussed the voting rights in College Park for noncitizen residents. But a main contingency of voters who could become influential in the next election are students.

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Jack Robson addressing the City Council. (Screenshot)

Many clubs on campus encourage students to get involved in this year’s upcoming election as residents of College Park, including University of Maryland Republicans, Ready for Hillary and the University of Maryland’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

In order to be eligible to vote in the upcoming city council elections, students must be registered to vote with the Prince George’s County Board of Elections by Tuesday, October 6, 2015. Students should plan to submit their voting registration application before October 6 to ensure that the application is processed on time. Students can check their registration status by calling the Prince George’s County Board of Elections or visiting the Maryland State Board of Elections website.

According to Cierra Thomas, the president of the UMD NAACP, “we encourage people to vote by carrying forms around and encouraging people to vote at events for example a protest for justice formula brown in DC last year, and we are planning a voter drive and candidate informational for senatorial and primary elections later in the year.”

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