UChiVotes Attends Chicago Board of Elections Meeting to Discuss Voter Registration Forms, Potential New Polling Location on Campus

Co-directors Caroline Koclanes and Shannon Dye spoke to members of the board at a public meeting on April 25.


Voter submits their ballot during the 2022 midterm elections.

By Austin Zeglis

UChiVotes co-directors and second-years Caroline Koclanes and Shannon Dye attended a public Chicago Board of Elections (BOE) meeting on April 25 to address issues they faced while registering student voters for the 2022 midterm and 2023 mayoral elections.

Koclanes and Dye spoke to BOE members about not having enough voter registration forms and pens at their polling location in McCormick Lounge at the Reynolds Club.

“In the 2022 midterm election, the polling location ran out of both voter registration forms and pens to fill out such registration forms, which prevented students from registering and voting,” Koclanes told The Maroon. “And in the 2023 runoff election, we yet again ran out of voter registration forms. So, it was frustrating to see the failure to respond to the demonstrated high registration volume.”

UChiVotes collected the contact information of students who had to be turned away and later notified them when the registration forms had been replenished. Koclanes estimated that between 50 to 100 people could not register at McCormick Lounge.

“Because this polling location is on a college campus, it is particularly important that voter registration forms are accessible because many of the voters coming through are either first-time voters who need to register or people who had previously voted in their home state but now want to change their registration,” Koclanes said.

Koclanes and Dye also proposed a voting location change for the 24th Precinct of the Fifth Ward, which encompasses six out of seven dorms and most of the University’s main campus.

“Based on the numbers we do have about the amount of registered voters and the number of students and dorms, it’s easy to assume that a high percentage of those are student voters. So, we were advocating for trying to move that same-day election site to the Reynolds Club or another campus location so students can have easier access on election day itself,” Dye said.

Dye said that the Board was very receptive to their concerns.

“The commissioners and other people on the Board of Elections did seem surprised and eager to fix it,” Dye said. “They were very happy that we took that step. We’re really eager to have that more direct line of communication.”

Koclanes emphasized the importance of student enfranchisement.

“Students are very prepared to vote,” Koclanes said. “They have a voting plan, and they take time from their classes to come and vote. And so, we want to make sure that when they actually come, they’re able to.”