#FOCUSDEMOCRACY: Montclair Voter Coalition Prepares for Election Day

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Published November 2, 2020
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The Montclarion
The Office of Civic and Voter Engagement at Montclair State is playing a huge role in both informing students of voting procedures and helping them get to their respective polling locations, come Election Day. Photo courtesy of Montclair State Civic and Voter Engagement

With less than a day to Election Day, the Montclair State Votes Coalition has been working tirelessly to get information out to students about mail-in ballots, in-person voting and how to get to the polls for tomorrow’s election.

The Montclair Votes Coalition is an organization run by faculty, staff and student volunteers to help Montclair State University students register and get information about how to cast a vote. They have teamed with the shuttle buses to help students get to the polls.

Pascale Lafountain, the university senate liaison, told the university senate on Wednesday that they have continued to register voters through the deadline on Oct.12.

“Hundreds of new voters have registered and they’re a strong presence of encouragement of voting,” Lafountain said.

Lori Petrozzello, a coordinator of circulation and reserve at the Sprague Library, has been a member of the Montclair Votes Coalition since 2018. In previous years, she has set up a computer in the library that was specifically reserved for voter registration and setting up lobby tables for students to get information. This year, Petrozzello said that things were a lot different due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Unfortunately, it was more of a reduction, we didn’t have the turbo vote, we didn’t have the lobby table, we just put up the bulletin board instead,” Petrozzello said. “We really have had to focus the library efforts on more traditional library efforts.”

James Clark- Graduate Coordinator - Office of Civic and Voter Engagement

James Clark is a graduate coordinator for the Office of Civic and Voter Engagement at Montclair State University.
Photo courtesy of James Clark

James Clark, a graduate coordinator for the Office of Civic and Voter Engagement, explained that due to COVID-19, only approximately 25% of the student population is on the campus, so the coalition had to adapt its process of registering students from in-person registration to sending students to TurboVote, an online registration platform.

“We actually strayed away from doing any paper registration, but because New Jersey implemented online voter registration this year, we were able to track the numbers and it was way more accessible for students,” Clark said.

Clark explained that between June 1 and Oct. 13, the total number of new voters registered was a little under 800 students.

After the voter registration deadline, the coalition focused fully on actively getting information about the process of voting with mail-in ballots. This effort includes the shuttle services that Montclair State is offering to eligible voters on Election Day.

There will be 2 shuttles running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., one from Red Hawk Deck and the other from University Hall. Since Montclair State’s campus sits on 3 different towns (Montclair, Little Falls and Clifton) and two different counties (Essex and Passaic), resident students should be aware that they may have different polling places based on their location.

Tara Mellor, the associate director of Residence Life, helped set up the shuttle services with the Montclair State Voters Coalition.

“This is my 10th year at Montclair [State], and historically we have run buses for just about every election year,” Mellor said. “It’s kind of following through on a tradition that we offer.”

There will be two shuttles and only 10 people allowed on each at the same time. The shuttle at Red Hawk Deck will escort those who live in Freeman Hall and Russ Hall to their respective polling location. All other residents can take the University Hall shuttle to their respective polling place. Traditionally, there is a polling station set up in Machuga Heights, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, it will not be used this year.

For any last minute questions on Nov. 3, go the Office of Civic and Voter Engagement’s virtual tabling event, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. (the Zoom ID is 880 4296 4625), or join @MontclairStateVotes on Instagram live for a Q&A session from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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