UMass holds early voting in Student Union Building

“Students have the power to make or break this vote”

%28Judith+Gibson-Okunieff%2FDaily+Collegian%29

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

By Benjamin Powell, Collegian Staff

In the busy, windy thoroughfare outside the Student Union Wednesday, students hustling through the cold were greeted by a collection of activists, all asking the same thing: “Are you registered to vote in Amherst?”

Wednesday marked the beginning of early voting on campus at the University of Massachusetts.  The polling place, room 420 above the Cape Cod Lounge in the Student Union, will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday as well.  Amherst residents, including UMass students who are registered to vote in Amherst, can take advantage of the opportunity.

The Town of Amherst is also offering early voting at Town Hall Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. until Nov. 2.  Additionally, polls will open on Saturday, Oct. 27 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at North Fire Station and Munson Memorial Library, according to the town’s website.

Jack Eccles, a junior operations and information management major, stationed himself outside the Student Union with a pile of orange flyers advocating for Amherst Forward, a group that has endorsed a list of candidates for Town Council, who Eccles said will work on building a “vibrant downtown,” and encourage smart growth in Amherst.

The group endorsed by Amherst Forward includes Eccles’s friend, UMass student and District 3 candidate John Page, whose campaign for town council is what spurred Eccles to volunteer to increase turnout for the local election.

Eccles said many people forget or neglect to fill out the town ballot and that students especially should be more involved in local politics.

Local issues weren’t the only ones being highlighted on Wednesday. In the center of the plaza was a table with a group of volunteers from the “Yes on 3” campaign, which advocates in favor of Question 3 on the ballot. If passed, a 2016 Massachusetts law that extended civil rights protections to transgender and nonbinary people would remain in effect.

Kim Nguyen, campus vote director of the “Yes on 3” campaign, said she and her colleagues had spoken to a lot of people that day, many of whom said they would be voting yes.

Nguyen emphasized the importance of campaigning on campus and encouraging early voting. She said, “students have the power to make or break this vote.”

Other unusual sightings outside the Student Union included a woman wearing a sign reminding people to vote and an evangelist standing by a cryptic painting, imploring students and other passersby to be “born again.”

Benjamin Powell can be reached at [email protected]