Heard on the Hill: Lots of provisional ballots at on-campus polling site; sunglasses for student voters; professor encouraging Native Americans to eat indigenous foods
Your daily dose of news, notes and links from around Kansas University.
• For the Journal-World’s election liveblog yesterday, I posted two KU-related election nuggets: one about an interesting check-in I made at the on-campus polling site at KU’s Burge Union, and one about some voter handouts on campus. I hope you were reading that blog throughout the day, but in case you were otherwise occupied, I’ll reproduce them here:
Just before 1 p.m., I stopped in at a polling site that’s a bit out of the ordinary: the Burge Union on the KU campus.
The number of voters for the day was nearing 200 when I was there. But what made the site unusual was that roughly one in four of the ballots cast was provisional.
Election worker Leo Bistak, who was handling the provisional ballots, said that in past elections at other sites he might receive a total of six provisionals. On Tuesday that number was nearing 50 by 1 p.m.
Why? Well, election worker Phillip Wrigley said that a number of KU students had come through who did not actually live in the precinct assigned to the Burge, which includes the Daisy Hill dorms and much of the rest of the campus. They weren’t sure about their polling places, or their only chance to vote today would be during a break on campus.
So Wrigley would turn around, point to a precinct map on the wall and help such students figure out where their polling places might be, and asked if it would be possible for them to make it there today. If the answer was no, they voted provisionally.
(Wrigley did emphasize that workers would prefer people to vote in their home precinct if at all possible.)
Wrigley said it had been consistently busy in the small meeting room set up for voting at the Burge, with only occasional lines forming right after classes got out.
KU sophomore Israel Smallwood voted there at about 1. It was the 19-year-old’s first time voting in his life.
“When I was riding down, it felt weird: I’m finally of age to vote,” Smallwood said.
• And the second election blog item:
Walking by Wescoe Hall on the KU campus just after 2 p.m., I saw a group of guys handing out sunglasses with red or blue earpieces to anyone who had voted in the election (including me, though I voted early on Saturday).
They were working for the Student Legislative Awareness Board, the KU student group that heads up get-out-the-vote efforts. Their efforts helped register more than 700 students to vote earlier this fall, said Zach George, the chairman of the group.
During the five minutes I stood there, a number of students took them up on the sunglasses offer, though some brushed them off. Such is life standing at a table in front of Wescoe, they told me.
• Devon Mihesuah is a professor of humanities and Western civilization at KU, and she runs something called the American Indian Health and Diet Project.
She is also a member of the Choctaw Nation, and she has long had a focus on encouraging Native Americans to improve their health by refocusing their diets on the indigenous American foods their ancestors once ate. This week, her project is sponsoring a challenge for people to eat nothing but foods indigenous to the Western Hemisphere through Friday (it started a few days ago, but I’m sure she wouldn’t be offended if you jumped in late).
The effort, called the “Week of Indigenous Eating Challenge,” has a Facebook page where Mihesuah is sharing some indigenous food inspirations. She also wrote a book about returning to indigenous foods that won a Gourmand World Cookbook Award.
• You can go ahead and send your KU news tips from anywhere in Lawrence, and we won’t consider any of them “provisional,” just as long as they go to firstname.lastname@example.org.