Legislation To Action: Obtaining An On-Campus Polling Place At Pace University

In 2022, New York passed a landmark law requiring colleges and universities with over 300 registered voters to establish on-campus polling places. This legislation aimed to combat campus gerrymandering and ensure equitable voting access for college students. By mandating these polling sites, the law sought to make voting more convenient and accessible, thereby encouraging higher voter turnout among young adults. Pace University, an Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere campus, was among the many campuses impacted by this piece of legislation. Pace University is one of many campuses in the Vote Everywhere network that have successfully obtained an on-campus polling place and contributed to a wider movement aimed at increasing civic engagement among young people. 

Before 2024 and despite consistently high voter turnout rates at Pace, logistical complications had limited full electoral participation for students. Students at Pace University were split into two different polling places and had to vote off-campus. The establishment of on-campus polling sites at The Student Center at One Pace Plaza in New York City and Willcox Hall in Pleasantville brought a sense of relief, allowing students to vote more conveniently, eliminating the need to travel off-campus and significantly improving voter accessibility and engagement among students.

During the Presidential Primary Election on April 2, 2024, Pace University students could cast their first votes directly from an on-campus polling place. This significant achievement was made possible by the persistent efforts of student leaders and organizations such as the Center for Community Action and Research (CCAR), with crucial backing from The Andrew Goodman Foundation. Their dedication and hard work are a source of inspiration and pride for the entire community. 

“Creating an on-campus voting site fulfilled what student voters nationwide have long desired: easy access to voting right at their doorstep,” said Jasmine Cintron, one of CCAR’s Andrew Goodman Foundation Ambassadors. “Setting up a voting site can be fraught with unexpected challenges, but this initiative removed those barriers for Pace students.”

Establishing the on-campus polling sites involved detailed planning and comprehensive inspections by the Board of Elections to ensure the campus met all accessibility standards and guaranteed that the polling sites could efficiently and effectively handle many voters. Andrew Goodman Ambassadors at Pace University were eager to see this project come to fruition, knowing that voting in a familiar environment could reduce anxiety and confusion, particularly for first-time voters. Additionally, the convenience of voting between classes or with friends made the process more appealing and less intimidating, enhancing the overall voting experience for students. 

The campus’s commitment to increasing student involvement in democratic processes demonstrates their understanding that Election Day is an opportunity for college students to use their voices to become community activists and leaders who mobilize around issues related to social justice and equity. Pace University is no stranger to institutionalizing civic engagement. In 2023, Pace University had its first “asynchronous learning day” on Election Day. The on-campus polling place is another powerful symbol of local election officials, the institution’s commitment to student voting, and a proven mechanism that increases students’ access to the ballot box.

This project will have lasting impacts on the campus community and beyond by making voting accessible and convenient through an on-campus polling place. The new polling places at Pace University have set a powerful example for other institutions and are a testament to the university’s commitment to democratic engagement and student empowerment.

About the Author

Kaylee Valencia is the Program Manager: Operations Strategist at The Andrew Goodman Foundation. Kaylee is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science.