For USC students, the Galen Center is typically a place to watch the Trojans score baskets or spike the ball. This year, however, students are heading to the arena to cast their ballots.

The Galen Center opened today as a voting site and will remain open over the five day period until Election Day. Leading up to Nov. 3, the Galen Center will be open from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. and from 7 a.m. - 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Professor Dr. Julie Rousseau, who serves as chair of the Black Lives Matter Action Team at USC, led the initiative to get the Galen Center to serve as a voting location. Rousseau says the matter was about bringing a safe way to vote to the USC community.

“This has been a great team effort,” Rousseau said. “We’ve been working with the Center for Political Future as well as VoteSC and University relations, whether it be [sports] facilities or staff. It’s just been a great and joint effort that everyone is pitching in to make this a great space for our community members to come out and vote and be safe.”

Rousseau said she hopes voting at the Galen Center reinvigorates the Trojan spirit.

“When you think about the fact that most people have not been to a sporting event over the last few months and haven’t been on campus, maybe this gives them a chance to come back and just be a part of celebrating being a part of the Trojans,” Rousseau said. “This is a chance for us to kind of come back to a place that has some good feelings attached to it.”

Rousseau also shared that voters at the Galen Center will vote in the Hall of Fame Room and the first 5,000 voters will receive USC-themed “I Voted” stickers.

Strict safety measures will be in place at the Galen Center to help stop the spread of COVID-19. All voters must wear face masks covering their nose, stand six feet apart from one another and sanitize their hands before and after casting their ballot.

Poll workers will work behind plastic shields for additional protection. They will also sanitize equipment frequently and ensure the center operates with one-directional foot traffic.

USC junior Aimee Rose, who says she did not receive a ballot in the mail despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order for all California voters to receive one, voted in person at the LATTC Auditorium. Rose says she felt safe with the safety measures and “definitely recommends” voting in-person.

“They had hand sanitizer at the door,” Rose said. “And then obviously everyone was wearing masks. I would say the six foot rule would probably apply if there were more people, but I was the only person in there… I definitely recommend it especially if someone’s nervous about their ballot not being counted in the mail or getting lost in the mail and that sort of thing during this year.”

Another new safety measure for voters? No shared pens.

Voters will check-in with a stylus that workers sanitize after each use, but casting a ballot will take place through an online tablet system. Voters will input their ballot into the scanner, make their selections, print their ballot to double check their votes and then re-insert it in the scanner.

LA County published an instructional video to help voters prepare for the new system.

Voters can enter the Galen Center through the building’s south entrance. Free parking will be available at the Figueroa Parking Structure located behind the USC Hotel on Figueroa Street.

More information and a link to register to vote can be found here.

Eligible voters who missed the Oct. 19 registration deadline in California can still take the opportunity to vote at the Galen Center: California offers same-day voter registration and election offices and polling centers.

Voters in Los Angeles and California can find the nearest voting location and what it offers on the secretary of state website.

For voters who are not comfortable casting their ballots in person, there are other opportunities to exercise their right to vote.

Registered voters can fill out an absentee ballot and drop it off at a designated voter drop box or send it in by mail. Voters planning to vote by mail must have their ballot postmarked by Tuesday, Nov. 3 and received no later than Friday, Nov. 20. California voters can track their ballots in the mail using this link.

Regardless if students plan to vote in person or by mail, Rousseau has one lasting message, “Vote On, SC!”