For many students this is the first year that they’ll be able to vote in a national presidential election. They must, however, act quickly if they want to cast their vote. The best way to guarantee this is through absentee ballots.
The deadline for voter registration is Oct. 4. Those applying for an absentee ballot must fill out a separate application form, providing their home address and campus address. Absentees need to apply for a new one each year.
Once an absentee ballot has been mailed to the address a student provides they must send it back to their county clerk at least seven days prior to the election. A list of county clerks is attached to the application.
Organizations like Student Government Association (SGA) and Women in Leadership and Learning (W.I.L.L.) have set up booths on campus at the Brower Student Center and Eickhoff Hall, respectively, to provide students all the necessary forms needed to apply for an absentee ballot.
“One of the goals I set for this year was to create a strong lobbying effort in the SGA,” Eric Pasternack, vice president of Legal and Governmental Affairs for SGA, said.
The first step in doing this was to run an effective voter registration and absentee ballot drive. For out-of-state students, SGA provided the necessary information to find state registration forms on the Internet.
W.I.L.L. also provided voter registration forms for New York and Pennsylvania residents and a general voter registration form that applies to most states.
Internet sites like rockthevote.com also provide printable forms and applications.
For those students who are still undecided about whether or not to vote, W.I.L.L will also be reaching out to students and trying to convince the unregistered that their vote matters.
“We’re going to go into classes held in big lecture halls, with the permission from professors, to inform students about the voting process,” Sharon Kohn, sophomore business administration major and member of W.I.L.L., said.
The organization plans to do the “storming” in the next few weeks, with special attention being given to freshmen classes with students who might not be aware of the process, according to Kohn.
“Some students have registered to vote, but don’t realize they must go back home or have no way of getting home,” Kohn said. “We’re letting them know about the absentee ballot option.
While the process of obtaining an absentee ballot is not difficult, SGA is circulating a petition to make the process even easier for students living on-campus. The petition is for polling stations to be brought on campus for future elections.
On-campus students would register to vote as Mercer County residents and then vote at polling stations at the College. The petition will be circulating for a couple more weeks while the election is a hot topic.
“By getting a polling center on campus, more students will be likely to vote and politicians will have to take the concerns of students seriously,” Pasternack said.
If recent polls and the 2000 presidential election are any indication, this year’s election is likely to be a close call. The fact of the matter is that every vote counts.