Called to Service: NSERL to Double as Polling Place
Research Lab to Host University's First Ballot Station Amid Collin County Test
Oct. 20, 2009
A University location known for experiments will soon be the site of a voter turnout experiment. The Natural Science and Engineering Research Laboratory (NSERL) will be the first polling location on The University of Texas at Dallas campus and open to any registered voter in Collin County.
Collin County is one of only four Texas counties testing a new way for voters to participate in the electoral process through the Vote Center concept. On Nov. 3, during a statewide Special Election, registered Collin County voters may vote at any of the 57 designated polling places in the county. Just as early voting allows registered voters to cast ballots at any polling place before Election Day, the pilot program works in the same way for the Tuesday, Nov. 3 Special Election, at 57 different locations. The Vote Center pilot is sponsored by the Texas Legislature.
“It doesn’t matter where you choose to vote. Your ballot will be there,” said Sharon Rowe, Collin County elections administrator.
The effort to bring voting locations to campus began in August 2007 as a student-driven initiative, when the Student Advisory Council included it in a submission of recommendations to The University of Texas System. Since then, Vice President for Public Affairs Amanda Rockow has worked with election officials in Collin County to bring a polling station to the University.
In summer 2009 the Vote Center pilot program was presented to Collin County election officials, and they decided it was time to try voting at NSERL.
“I’m thrilled that our Collin County students and the surrounding community will have the opportunity to vote on the UT Dallas campus,” said Rockow. “We are hopeful that NSERL will be a popular polling place on November 3 and that this relationship with Collin County will continue long into the future.”
Collin County estimates that there are 499 eligible voters living on the UT Dallas campus. The Richardson campus is split between two counties: Collin County to the north and Dallas County to the south. Students who live 200 feet north of Drive A live in Collin County and, if registered to vote in Collin County, are eligible to vote in Collin County elections; faculty and staff who reside in Collin County and are registered to vote there may also vote at NSERL. Dallas County poll locations are available at their Web site. Students in doubt should consult their voter registration cards.
Technology is enabling Collin County voters to find polling places via the Internet or cell phone. Voters can search for a Vote Center on the County’s election Web site, or from Oct. 31 through Election Day, Collin County will provide a text service which provides up to three Vote Center addresses based on the zip code provided by users. Interested persons should sign up for election information emails to receive service instructions.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at NSERL and other locations across Collin County; visit the Collin County Election Information Web site for more information.