The combination of new early voting laws and the University of Virginia pausing classes for the first time on the national voting holiday has made voting more accessible than ever for university students.
“Early voting has been a complete game-changer,” said third-year UVa student and University Democrats social chair Vincent Kloes, who volunteered at Venable Middle School throughout the day. “We’ve been seeing people walk out with green papers, which proves that they’ve been successful in both registering and voting today.”
Election Day student volunteers from the University of Virginia said they saw a more steady flow of their peers hitting the polls throughout the day than they did in the 2020 presidential election.
While early voting has opened doors for many voters, polling places are still ironing out some kinks as election workers adjust to the new law.
Two students, who prefer to remain anonymous, went to register and vote at Carver Recreation Center at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center Tuesday afternoon. Poll workers told the students that they were not eligible to vote at the location after they completed their same-day voting form.
Discouraged, the students, and friends of University Democrats member Kate Haberl, told her that they left once they were denied the right to vote. A couple of hours later, Haberl texted University Democrats campaign chair Nate Welz, “[One student] went back to the polling station with a voter protection rep and voted!”
Students were dedicated to spreading the word about same-day registration options and candidate positions on the issues that matter most to them and their peers.
Carver Recreation Center, Slaughter Hall and Venable Middle School in the city of Charlottesville were the most common polling places for students living on and around university Grounds. University Democrats staffed stations at Slaughter and Venable from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The UVa chapter of College Republicans staffed the Alumni Hall polling location, which served Charlottesville residents more than university students, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Both College Republicans and University Democrats agreed to split the north wall of Beta Bridge in half and paint messages encouraging passersby to vote for their party’s candidate. The bridge has been a bulletin board for student expression through art for more than 70 years, according to UVA Today.
College Republicans painted their half of the bridge on Monday evening. Splashed with a red background, the section read “Red Wave 2022! Vote GOP.” Executive council and general members of University Democrats made their way to the bridge at 12 a.m. as well as 6 a.m. to paint the left half of the bridge blue with “Josh 4 VA-05!" "Vote Blue" was also written in white spray paint.
When University Democrats finance chair Sophia Liao arrived at the bridge for the first painting session, the College Republicans’ side appeared as the organization intended. When she returned to the bridge for the second session, the red half of the Election Day wall was smeared with white paint that read “F*** Young Fascists Vote!” along with other profane language and imagery.
College Republicans at UVa declined to make a public statement.
University Democrats worked on last-minute phone banking for Democratic 5th District representative candidate Josh Throneburg on the Lawn from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
UVa’s Student Council started a tab with Yellow Cab of Charlottesville to pay for students to commute to their respective polling locations for free.
Student Council and University Democrats are just two independent student organizations that hosted private Election Night watch parties after a long day at the polls.
Starting Tuesday evening, tentative election results are available at the Virginia Public Access Project. Same-day provisional ballots will be counted by the end of the day on Monday, Nov. 14.