Absent but accounted for on Election Day

By Danyelle Gary and Nichelle Parker

With the midterm U.S Congressional elections nearing completion, many states aided students choosing to vote on Nov. 2, via absentee ballots. State websites and college campuses offered information.

Hampton University took an active role in encouraging student voters to request absentee ballots.

Weeks before Election Day, the HU Political Science Club hosted a table in the student center to hand out absentee ballot request forms for Virginia residents and to answer any questions they could about other states.

“A lot of people don’t know how the process works or how to do it at all,” said Charles Graves, a senior political science major from Baltimore and president of the Political Science Club.

According to Graves, students were not as excited to vote in this year’s election as the presidential election in 2008.

“Unfortunately, the interest in voting is much less than it was two years ago, so it’s harder to get folks to come out and vote.”

In many states, a letter of request must be sent to the voter’s county registration office before receiving an official absentee ballot. However for other states, like Georgia, a family member can request a ballot to be sent to a college student.

It seems that voting loses its appeal when registered voters are unable to vote in person.

According to the Virginia State Board of Elections website, absentee ballots in Virginia can be cast 45 days before any election.

What is most interesting is whether or not an almost certain decrease in voter turnout compared to the November 2008 elections will affect the number of absentee ballots that have been cast for this election.

“Even if you’re not sure, vote absentee,” Graves said. “It’s an easy way to make sure your vote gets counted. Just make sure you go vote.”

Taylor Armstead, a senior electrical engineering major from Alameda, Calif., registered to vote in Virginia instead of mailing an absentee ballot back home.

“I chose to vote in Virginia because then you don’t have to worry about it getting lost in the mail and your vote not being counted,” said Armstead.

That is a fear many voters have expressed over the years. Problems are always a possibility in elections.

Last week the Washington Post reported that the voter database called VERIS was running slow for those working for the Virginia State Board of Elections. Since then, the system has been repaired. It is not linked to the electronic voting stations and would likely not have caused any major issues on voting day.

With everything in order, and the cut off for casting absentee ballots having already passed in some places, it is all up to those voting in person to have the final say.

Both writers are students at the Hampton University Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications

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