Amid Tuesday’s controversial election in which Donald Trump emerged victorious, Montclair State University students voted on campus in numbers that Residence Life Director John Delate deemed a “good turnout,” however, some students faced unexpected registration mix-ups that prevented them from voting in the booths.
According to Debree Rucker, 18, and Nariah Mcknight, 18, who voted at Clifton Public School #16, they encountered students who were unable to vote in the booths because they were not registered under their campus address. These students claimed to have submitted their change of address forms, and some accused their resident assistants (RAs) of failing to send the forms in.
“I’ve only heard cases of one or two [students] having address issues,” said Matthew Borsque, coordinator for the Office of Civic and Voter Registration. “It’s cases where they filed the registration, and the thing is, they have their home address but they don’t have the school address.”
He explained that his department compiled an instruction manual which they passed along to the community director (CD) of each residence hall, who then distributed it to the RA of each floor. The manual “extensively” outlined, according to Borsque, the process of registering residents to vote on campus. “It’s kind of this trickled down deal,” Borsque said.
Alex Gamboa, a resident of The Village and The Montclarion’s Photography Editor, said that he had to fill out a provisional ballot instead of voting in the booth because his change of address was never submitted. His RA declined to comment.
“It was very upsetting that I was denied my first chance to vote as an adult because of paperwork not being submitted,” said Gamboa. “I was really looking forward to voting in this election, but it didn’t bother me that much because New Jersey is typically Democrat.”
According to the New Jersey Department of State website, a provisional ballot is a paper ballot given to registered voters who either failed to report a change of address before Election Day or have registration information missing in the poll book. Each provisional ballot, along with an affirmation statement signed by the voter, is placed in a sealed envelope by the board worker and delivered to the county commissioner of registration office to be verified and counted separately.
“I do not suspect a fault of the RAs themselves as much as I potentially suspect that it might have been a fault of [the students] because, in general, there’s a lot of errors when it comes to the ballots,” said Borsque. “To my own actions, and my other two coworkers, we actively helped people fix errors, and we also made it clear that, if you don’t do it right, you’re not going to get it back.”
He said that he encouraged students to “keep an eye out” for their sample ballot and also to google “NJ Am I registered?” to make sure they were set to vote on Election Day.
“We did not hear of any issues at the polls,” Delate responded when asked about the difficulties some students experienced. “All voter registration forms were mailed in by the University, so I am unaware of any issues.”
Alexa Arrabito contributed to reporting this story.