UISG, GPSG oppose new bill to end on-campus voting

The UI’s undergraduate and graduate student governments are speaking out in response to SSB 1241, which could make early on-campus voting on Iowa campuses a thing of the past.

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UISG, GPSG oppose new bill to end on-campus voting

Rylee Wilson, News Reporter

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A bill introduced in the Iowa Senate could end satellite voting on campus, potentially making access to the polls more difficult for University of Iowa students.

The UI Student Government and Graduate & Professional Student Government are working to voice student concerns about the bill, Senate File 575, to legislators. The bill includes provisions to end satellite voting in state-owned buildings, including locations at the IMU and UI Hospitals & Clinics.

“… This bill would seriously hinder a student’s ability to vote on campus, be that at the IMU, the Main Library, or UIHC,” GPSG President Dexter Golinghorst said in an email to The Daily Iowan. “There were thousands of people who voted on campus in 2016 and 2014. This bill would force those people to go to a different voting location off-campus.”

Golinghorst said GPSG members have reached out to members of both chambers of the Iowa Legislature. He said GPSG members come from across Iowa and other states, allowing them to reach a wide variety of legislators.

RELATED: Bill could kill satellite voting at UI, decrease access to polls for students

UISG Sen. Jocelyn Roof, the chair of the Governmental Relations Committee, encourages students to share their thoughts on the legislation.

“We’re sending members from UISG and GPSG to lobby at the Capitol this week,” she said. “That’s kind of our action plan for now — reaching out to our networks and asking students if they feel comfortable sending letters to their legislators as well.”

Roof sees the bill restricting accessibility to the polls for students, she said. 

“Students a lot of times spend 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on campus. We see not having a location on that campus as not being a good thing,” Roof said. “Students don’t always have time to go off campus to go to their normal polling location.”

UISG Governmental Relations Director Connor Wooff said the ability to vote early on campus is important for improving student turnout.

“A big push of ours is to get students to vote early so when it comes to Election Day, something comes up — they forget, they have a big class load that day, they oversleep — they miss the deadline to go vote,” Wooff said. “We think early voting on campus is the best way to make sure students have the extra time to make that decision to go vote. Being on campus is much more convenient than going elsewhere.”

The bill also includes a provision that could remove students from the statewide voter-registration system if they indicate they plan to leave the state after graduation, which Wooff said he doesn’t think is inviting to students.

“Making a decision on where to live after college is a big decision,” Wooff said. “We don’t want them to have to make that decision upon graduation and then go through the process of getting reregistered when it’s already hard enough to get people to register to vote regardless.”