At least three Georgetown students were turned away at the polls when they tried to vote in yesterday’s special election for at-large member of the D.C. Council.

The students’ names were not on the list of registered voters, and they did not have the required documents — government ID and proof of residency — for same day registration.

The students were not given a provisional ballot and a chance to prove their residency at a later date, however.

After traveling to her polling place with a group of students from DC Students Speak yesterday afternoon, Sarah Christiano (COL ’13) was unable to cast a ballot.

“I was really upset,” she said. “I just hope it didn’t happen to a lot of other people across the city.”

Christiano later called the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics to report the incident. The BOEE called her back at about 7 p.m., an hour before the polls closed.

At that point, she did not have time to return to the polling place and pick up her provisional ballot.

“It was even more frustrating to know I should have been able to vote but couldn’t,” she said.

Alice McLaughlin, a public information officer at the District’s BOEE, said that poll workers should have allowed students to cast a ballot and instructed them to return to the BOEE office with the proper identification.

“[After receiving complaints] I called the precinct captain and instructed her that those ballots needed to be cast,” McLaughlin said.

Additionally, the BOEE issued a memo to poll workers outlining the additional forms of ID and proofs of residency that could be accepted.

McLaughlin added that she hoped that students were able to return to their polling places when the issue was resolved. She also encouraged students to report future problems while still at their polling places.

“Whatever kind of problem people have in a polling place … we prefer to be able to resolve issues on the spot,” she said.

Christiano attributed the problem to miscommunication about the voting procedures for special elections.

Scott Stirret (SFS ’13), the chair of DC Students Speak, agreed that the mistakes were due to a misunderstanding but stressed that the effects were still serious.

“I don’t think this a concerted effort to minimize student involvement, but it is an example of how sometimes errors can be made that minimize first time voters’ involvement with the political process,” he said.

Yesterday would have been Christiano’s first time voting in the District. She switched her registration to D.C. two months ago because she felt her vote was more important here.

“I think my vote pulls more weight here,” she said. “If [students] care about our issues then we need to show that we care [by voting],” she said. “We need to go out there and vote to prove we’re committed to Georgetown and D.C.”

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