Larger than expected voter turnout causes challenges for disabled students


Stephanie Lee

American River College student Randall Sly is just one of the students to complain about the lack of accommodations for students with disabilities during the ASB elections. Sly witnessed two deaf students who were being turned away at the Career Center. (Photo by Stephanie Lee)

Cintia Lopez and Cesar Ramirez

Long lines and lack of support soured some students’ experiences 

By Cesar Alexander and Cintia Lopez

The 2013 Associated Student Body elections brought out more than three times the amount of voters from last year. The general consensus seems to agree there could have been more voters despite all of the problems that seemed to stack up. With a free lunch as incentive to vote, the amount of students participating was overwhelming for the staff.

For students who voted at the Campus Leadership Center, the wait time was roughly pushed back an hour. This caused many students to walk away. Students weren’t directed to the shorter line at the Career Center, which substantially contributed to the longer wait times some students faced.

According to Los Rios election policy, “the election shall preserve the confidentiality of the ballot.” Some students claimed that confidentiality was absent, as the computer screens used for voting were in plain sight.

As a new student, Randall Sly attempted to bring up some of the issues he experienced while voting, but felt his efforts were fruitless. In his opinion, there was not enough preparation for students to understand the ballot.

“People should have had access to them. They should have been able to have questions about it. Nobody really explained it in detail,” Sly said. “I’ve been trying to complain ever since the last election cycle.”

When Sly walked to the polling location at the Career Center with two deaf students, they were turned away due to lack of communication.

“They were flustered, they were angry,” said Sly, in regards to the staff. “They didn’t have the courtesy to look these people in the face and try to talk calmly to them, and that created even more miscommunication and more misunderstanding, because it’s hard to read someone’s lips when they’re arguing and looking away and doing other things.”

Tanika Byrd, supervisor of the Center for Leadership and Development, said, “as far as students with disabilities, we try to accommodate as best as we can. They have to ask for it and need to know that this is an accommodation.”

ASB student Senator Laurie Jones said, “I had heard that we had ballots on tape and all kinds of accommodations for disabled students, but I didn’t see any of them. I don’t know what they were.” It appears to be less of an issue of discriminating against those with disabilities, but rather a lack of preparation and communication among the election organizers.

Students who may have experienced problems during voting can voice their concerns at an ASB meeting during the public comment period. Without students bringing up their concerns, those in charge are unable to make improvements that could benefit the students in future elections.