Election Day on campus: Welcome Center to be official voting site

Students can visit the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center Nov. 7 to cast their ballots for the upcoming election. Mesha Mittanasala | Photographer

By Piper Rutherford | Staff Writer

The Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center will be opening its doors to Baylor students who are registered to vote along with McLennan County eligible voters Nov. 7. This comes after years of Baylor’s Office of Governmental Relations working to locate a voting site on campus to make voting more convenient for the Baylor community.

Rochonda Farmer-Neal, government relations director for Baylor, said in an email, that after struggling to find a voting site that was easily accessible, the office was excited to identify the Welcome Center as an official voting site for the upcoming election.

McLennan County elections administrator Jared Goldsmith said some of the other sites that were in the running included the Mayborn Museum, Baylor’s indoor tennis facility and the fire department on Speight Avenue.

“We have been so diligent in visiting all of these potential sites over the years, since Baylor is a major university in the Waco area, with plenty students of voting age,” Goldsmith said. “It is only fitting that there should be a voting site on campus, especially since the experience of participating in the democratic process is a part of any institution of higher education, where students can make sure their voice is heard.”

This additional voting site in McLennan County, Goldsmith said, was made possible by the passage of Senate Bill 924, which allowed for the commissioner’s office to add 12 polling places to the other 34 sites that already exist in the county.

“It is important to note that while the Hurd is not an early voting site, McLennan County does have five early voting sites in the area, which can be found on our website,” Goldsmith said.

Another unique aspect of this election, Goldsmith said, is that it is a constitutional amendment election.

According to the Texas Tribune, the 14 proposed amendments will either create or change funds for topics such as higher education research, water infrastructure, gas-fueled power plants, maintenance and creation of state parks, as well as raising the homestead exemption for homeowners from $40,000 to $100,000.

As for those of voting age who intend to cast their ballot on Election Day, Farmer-Neal said, in an email, to note that the Welcome Center will open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., during which voters will enter through the main entrance of the building on the south side of the lot and head to the breakout area of the ballroom.

“We encourage all members of our community to participate in our democratic process by casting their ballot on Election Day,” Farmer-Neal said in an email. “It’s one of our most important rights and privileges as Americans.”