Cart injures poll workers

Daily Sundial

Two poll workers at an Associated Students voting booth were injured when a cart hit the right front corner of the tent Tuesday morning, according to several witnesses and a statement released by A.S.

The beginning of the two-day A.S. election was briefly interrupted when an A.S. driving cart that was attempting to turn around crashed into a tent on Matador Walk, where Michele Ballard, a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, and Jochebed Santiago, were serving as poll workers.

“We heard, ‘Watch out,’ we heard the impact and we saw (someone) being dragged and we heard (the driver) say, ‘Oh God,’ ” said Geoff Folaref, a junior kinesiology major who said he witnessed the incident.

The incident took place at about 10:20 a.m., said Christina Villalobos, CSUN police spokesperson.

The cart also hit one of the three tables at the booth, said Leanne Vincent, A.S. activities coordinator.

The driver, A.S. Director of Elections Leila Varzideh, accidentally pressed the accelerator of the cart instead of the brakes, said Vincent, along with several witnesses.

“(Varzideh) jumped up and she screamed and jumped out of the cart,” said Heidi Wolfbauer, a Faculty Senate administrative analyst and specialist who said she witnessed the incident.

Varzideh kept a clear head even though the situation was intense, Vincent said, adding that she was proud of the way she handled the situation. Varzideh was back on campus late Tuesday afternoon, she said.

Ballard and Santiago were left with bumps, bruises and scratches, according to Vincent and other witnesses.

The poll workers were sent to the Northridge Hospital Medical Center for examinations, according to Vincent and Jasmine Harutyunyan, a member of the A.S. Elections Committee and KKG.

Around 2 p.m. Tuesday, Santiago was released from the hospital, and Ballard, who was under supervision for possible head concussions, was also released, said Vincent.

“As an adviser, these are like my kids,” she said. “Nobody wants to watch their kids get hurt.”

A.S. said in statement that the organization wished for the “full recovery of the injured students.”

Students aided Ballard and Santiago before paramedics arrived about 10 minutes after the accident, Wolfbauer said.

One of the poll workers appeared to have injuries to her neck while the other female appeared to have scrapes, said Joshua Chaney, a junior CTVA major who witnessed accident.

“Just hearing the noise and hearing the scream and – seeing how the vehicle was – it looked bad,” said Amy Kiel, an undeclared sophomore who called 9-1-1 after the accident.

Overall, the two girls “seemed to be fine,” Vincent said.

Samuel Richard can be reached at