On Election Day,
Rutgers University sophomore Sean Thom waited patiently as a poll
worker combed the voter rolls for his name at a Livingston College
Thom looked downcast
as the poll worker came up empty. Though he had registered to vote
in his first election in an on-campus drive last month, Thom, 19,
assumed his form was not processed in time for Tuesday's election.
He was one of
hundreds, perhaps thousands, of new voters at Rutgers who
reluctantly filled out paper provisional ballots or walked away from
the polls when their names could not be found at polling locations.
"I'm kind of
disappointed," he said.
Rutgers and Middlesex
County election officials are still trying to figure out what caused
widespread confusion Tuesday on the state university's New Brunswick
and Piscataway campuses.
The university joins
a long list of colleges reporting similar problems. Though young
voters went to the polls in record numbers this election, they also
ran into a record number of obstacles, voting rights advocates said.
It was another story
say they turned in voter registration forms for nearly 11,000
students before last month's deadline, and it appears many of the
registrations were never processed.
"We don't really
have a count at this point. ... It's a lot of people," said
Susan Sherr, director of the civic engagement and political
participation program at Rutgers' Eagleton Institute. "It was
Rutgers' lawyers went
to court on Election Day as soon as students reported they were
having trouble voting in New Brunswick and Piscataway.
lawyers secured an emergency order from a Middlesex County judge
ordering the county clerk to make sure polling locations had enough
paper ballots to hand out.
Students whose names
were not listed on the voter rolls filled out the ballots and sealed
them in envelopes. Their votes will be counted if and when county
officials verify the students' addresses and voting status.