“For the number of people that are off campus in that particular precinct, you would probably need about 20 spots available,” Wertz said. “We need a very small number because there's a very small number off campus.”
Gabbard, who had personally estimated that hundreds would be necessary, was surprised to hear such a low figure.
“If he's talking about 15 cars, that's not a problem,” Gabbard said, adding that the relatively low number was an inconvenience, but not a mammoth one.
“It was never brought up that we could have had any spaces there," Wertz said. "If we knew we would have had some negotiation points on it, we would have taken advantage of that.”
Another potential location, the visiting team locker room in Lane Stadium, was looked into but dismissed as a possibility because it failed to meet strict legal requirements that those with disabilities can access the area without any outside assistance.
At this point, according to Wertz, Wilson suggested the regional airport as a potential location, and Wertz and his team jumped on it.
“The only election that would give us a problem out there would be the presidential election,” Wertz said, referring to elections on years that don't turn out huge crowds. “When the students aren't interested, it's obviously not an issue.”
When asked whether any mistakes were made in the process, Wertz denied something could have been done differently to produce a different outcome.
“Well, no, you can't say it was a mistake because everybody assumed, I guess,” Wertz said. “We assumed that the parking area... was not accessible to us. And (Gabbard) assumed that the number of spots needed was considerably more than what we did need. So I mean, nobody did anything wrong, it's just that in the discussions it never really came out that there was negotiating room. But I don't think anybody did anything wrong.”
Wertz did admit that a quick and easy study from a county engineer could have given the search team specific data on how many parking spots would be necessary.
“It wouldn't have taken long at all to do that,” Wertz said, adding that,“Decisions had to be made quickly. We didn't have a lot of time to go into a lot of detail on this.”
Erica Wood, SGA Director of Governmental Affairs,
ran a campaign to help get students registered to vote this past semester.
In September, she received an email from the Campus Voter Challenge, an organization helping student groups make their campus voter-friendly. A list of specific goals for a university included having a polling location on campus for students. Wood admits that, until this time, she didn't think about the possibility or importance of an on-campus location.
“When elections are that close to the start of your term (of your SGA position), you don't have time,” Wood said.
With the limited time before election day, Wood recognized it would be unlikely they would make any headway on the issue. Instead, her group opted to continue focusing on voter registration drives.
Now, the likelihood of having a polling location on campus for the next presidential election is dependent upon contacting the Montgomery County Electoral Board, the body responsible for reviewing polling places.
“A citizen could do it; I could do it; anybody could contact the board members,” Wertz explained, saying the registrar's office would be willing to re-approach the search for an on-campus location, but only if done through the correct venue.
“If the university has changed as far as the parking, and that type of thing, then I'm sure my board would reconsider, because they, like I, want to make sure that we serve the voters regardless of whether they're students or anyone else the very best we can,” Wertz said.