Your opinions rock, so ‘rock the vote’

Julie Spierer, Contributing Writer

In the coming weeks, elections will be taking place at the federal, state and local level , and students are struggling with where they should cast their votes. The Class of 2019 embodies the wide variety of states represented on campus, with 19.4 percent of the students hailing from Pennsylvania. Thirty-two states and Washington are represented by the class, so the question becomes: how do these out-of-state students get the opportunity to vote?

Absentee ballots give students who are not able to vote at their registered polling station the opportunity to have a political voice. Absentee ballots boost voters’ participation and can be submitted through the postage system, just as some votes are conducted via email or over the internet.

The Secretary of State or Director of Elections is in charge of the collection of absentee ballots. In some of the more rural states, like Pennsylvania, polling locations haven’t been completely useful, as most people find it much easier to simply mail in their ballots.

Some worry about the security of the process, however, Washington’s Secretary of State, Kim Wyman assures that security is not to be worried about. Wyman said that the voting by mail process is actually more protected than an in-person ballot. Officials verify every single ballot to make sure it matches the registration file. The absentee ballot allows for a crosscheck of signatures between the mail-in copy as well as the signature with which the voter registered to vote with.

Former Secretary of State of Colorado, Scott Gessler, has a much different view of the various voting options. He notes that the United States Postal Service is decreasing their service to save money and cut costs. This in turn has led to disenfranchisement of voters who are put off by the post office. Furthermore, many voters enjoy voting through polling stations in order to securely assure that his or her ballot will not be lost in the handling and processing of the mail.

Those students who hail from “swing” states may feel as though they are obligated to be involved in their home states’ politics. Others believe these students are new additions to the community they are educated in and should register to vote in a location near their schools.

In order to complete an absentee ballot at the University, you must complete all necessary information on the absentee ballot application which can be found online at www.votespa.com. The good news is this year marks the first time the state of Pennsylvania has used online voter registration forms. You must also attach a form of ID that contains your name, photo, and has an expiration date that has not passed. The completed application must be returned to the local County Board of Elections before 5 p.m. on the Tuesday before the date of the election. 

“I am a huge fan of absentee ballots,” Laura Bart ’19 said. 

She believes that absentee ballots provide the youth with an opportunity to have a voice in politics. 

As a matter of fact, Bart utilized the program known as Rock the Vote in order to sign up. President of the Class of 2019, Emily Shapiro, describes the process as “necessary.” Rock the Vote will begin on Sept. 17 and will run everyday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Oct. 5. A more concise schedule is located directly below:

Sept. 17-21-  LC mall table outside of Bison

Sept. 24-28- table inside uphill LC entrance

Oct. 1-5- LC mall table outside of Bison

Through Rock The Vote students have the ability to use their Student IDs as forms of Pennsylvania-verified identification. Those interested in this option should visit either the Campus Activities and Programs (CAP) Center or the Switchboard to get an expiration date sticker applied. 

If you want to have your political voice accounted for, make sure to register for an absentee ballot through Rock the Vote, or through www.votespa.com.

2012 Election 

56.5 percent of Americans cast in-person ballots 

16.6 percent of Americans cast absentee ballots 

4.9 percent of Americans sent ballots via main  

9.0 percent of Americans sent ballots via Early Voting 

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