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For the first time in years, University students and faculty registered to vote in the 27th Ward of Philadelphia will be able to cast ballots at a single polling location for the April 23 primary election. In the past, there have been up to four locations set up, causing confusion and low voter turnout. The 27th Ward Democratic Executive Committee, in attempt to increase election participation, proposed centralized voting on campus by allowing every registered voter to cast ballots at Irvine Auditorium. City commissioners are expected to approve the plan tomorrow, according to Kevin Fassett, the ward's Democratic leader. The committee attempted to gain approval for such a procedure for last November's general elections, but it applied too soon before the election date for the proposal to be considered. Committee members hope a centralized location will increase voter turnout across campus, according to committee member Jeff Pokras, a College junior. The consolidated voting location will accept voters from five of the ward's 23 divisions -- the five where most students reside. Formerly, students residing in different buildings were registered to vote in different locations -- such as High Rise East, High Rise South and Irvine Auditorium. Pokras said the different voting locations caused confusion among students, turning away close to half of the vote. For example, a high-rise resident who previously lived in the Quadrangle might have been registered in Irvine Auditorium. "The list might tell them to go to High Rise East and they would not vote out of confusion or frustration," Pokras said. "We're hoping to eliminate the problem altogether." The Admissions Office had already reserved Houston Hall's Bodek Lounge, the committee's first choice. Pokras worked with committee members, including Fassett, to reach an agreement. Fassett said he favors the new procedure, explaining that it will make voting easier for students. "Students need to get involved," he said. "Maybe they'll notice the change this year and want to get more involved." But he added that he fears long lines might discourage students from voting. He also foresees problems for the Democratic Party with the new consolidated voting location. The once-overwhelmingly Democratic student population is now made up of more Republicans than Democrats, he said. "Consolidating the polls might give the Republicans the edge," Fassett said.

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