Emma Gauthier, Contributing Writer
On Tuesday, Virginians will be voting for representatives in both the Senate and the House of Delegates, where Republicans hold a majority in both houses. Most on-campus students will be voting at the University Student Commons, but locations vary for some residence halls and off-campus neighborhoods.
Unsure where you’ll be voting Nov. 5? Here are some of the polling areas near campus:
George Washington Carver Elementary School (1110 W. Leigh St.)
- Broad and Belvidere Student Apartments
- Ackell Residence Center
- Jackson Ward
Clark Springs Elementary School (1101 Dance St.)
- Gladding Residence Center
- GRC III
- Oregon Hill
Dominion Place (1025 W. Grace St.)
- Grace and Broad Residence Center
- Parts of The Fan District between North Harrison Street and Stuart Circle, and within Park Avenue and West Broad Street
Tabernacle Baptist Church (1925 Grove Ave.)
- Parts of The Fan District between North Harrison Street and North Shields Avenue, and within Park Avenue and Floyd Avenue
Main Library (101 E. Franklin St.)
- Cabaniss Hall
Randolph Community Center (1415 Grayland Ave.)
- Randolph, between Lakeview Avenue and Floyd Avenue
Maymont Elementary School (1211 S. Allen St.)
- Randolph, between Kansas Avenue and Lakeview Avenue
Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and valid photo identification is required. VCU-issued student IDs are considered valid forms of identification. Off-campus voters with addresses not included in the list above can find their polling location at richmondgov.com under “voter registration.”
“With every seat up for grabs in the Virginia General Assembly, many races could be decided by a small margin,” said Jackie Smith-Mason, co-chair of the VCU Votes Advisory Council. “As a result, VCU students could have a huge impact on election outcomes.”
The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement released data last month that showed the rate at which registered students voted in 2018 has nearly tripled since 2014.
“Many VCU students care about specific social issues, such as the environment, gun violence and homelessness,” Smith-Mason said. “They recognize that they can make a positive difference by electing individuals who will support public policy that advances their interests.”
The data shows three separate rates: the registration rate, voting rate of registered students and overall voting rate. All three ranked higher than the national averages for all institutions.
In 2018, 60% of registered voters at VCU showed up on Election Day, which contributed to the university-wide voting rate of 48.6%. The average voting rate for all institutions was 39.1% in 2018.
A representative for NextGen America, an organization that mobilizes young people to vote, says one of the reasons people don’t vote is because they don’t do the research to find their polling location.
“I think there’s a lot of apathy,” NextGen Field Organizer Safa Eltaib said. “A lot of people don’t understand what voting does or how it can impact what’s going on in their day to day lives.”
Topics expected to be addressed following the election are state budgeting, as well as gun violence prevention. Eltaib says elections can affect education and health care, and every vote counts.
“There was an election that came down to a tie and ended up having to flip a coin,” Eltaib said.
In 2017, more than 23,000 votes were cast in a Virginia House of Delegates race in Newport News between Democrat Shelly Simonds and Republican David Yancey. A difference of one vote meant that Simonds would win, resulting in a balanced House. After a discarded ballot for Yancey was counted, it became an even tie.
After drawing names from a bowl to declare a winner, Yancey’s victory became the confirmation that the GOP would keep the House majority.
It’s rare, but ties happen in local elections. In the case of the 94th District, it would really have come down to a single vote.