Mason’s Busy Polling Place Gives Voice, and Hope, for ‘Future of Democracy’

Posted: November 6, 2013 at 5:00 am, Last Updated: November 7, 2013 at 6:52 am

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By Buzz McClain

A student submits his ballot after voting at the on-campus precinct on election day at the Fairfax campus. Photo by Alexis Glenn

A student submits his ballot after voting at University Precinct on election day at the Fairfax campus. Photo by Alexis Glenn

The polling kiosks at George Mason University’s Alumni Relations office were busy throughout election day as hundreds of registered voters living within the boundaries of the University Precinct — basically, all of the Fairfax Campus and Masonvale — cast electronic ballots for the next Virginia governor and other statewide offices. By late afternoon nearly 500 votes had been cast.

The establishment of the university as a voting district was the effort of students who pushed for approval at all levels of governance, from the student government to the school administration to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors which authorized the precinct in 2011. Since then there have been seven elections manned by dozens of student volunteers, such as Nhychelle Lowe, a criminology major who agreed to take a “two- to three-hour elections officer training course from the county,” she says.

Of the 6,000 precinct residents, some 3,000 of them are registered to vote. The continuous clipboard-in-the-plaza sign-up campaign by various campus political clubs can be credited for many of those registrations.

“We celebrate democracy on our campus,” says Donald Garrett, a government and international politics senior who has worked with the precinct since the beginning. “Seeing your peers and friends serving at the polls and facilitating the democratic process adds trust to the process. It’s a great opportunity to have our voices heard.”

As if to underscore the importance of the Mason polling branch, David Bulova (D), who represents the 37th district in the Virginia House of Delegates, made an appearance to meet students and polling place volunteers in the afternoon and posted photos from the campus on social media.

“I’ve always been proud to have George Mason in my district, and I’m glad to continue to represent George Mason,” he says. Regarding the voter turnout and the enthusiasm of the volunteers, Bulova says, “It makes me feel hopeful for the future of democracy.”

Delegate David Bulova greets students on election day at the Fairfax campus. Photo by Alexis Glenn

Delegate David Bulova greets students on election day at the Fairfax campus. Photo by Alexis Glenn

Write to Buzz McClain at bmcclai2@gmu.edu

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