Absentee ballots play major role in elections

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Elizabeth Witowich, Staff Writer

The time is almost here to vote for the 2012 election and decide who will become the next president. For college students taking part in the voting process, it can be somewhat confusing and can raise more questions than answers. One big question that has caused confusion among college students is absentee ballot voting and how to become an absentee ballot voter. Many students don‘t know much if anything about the absentee ballot voting process and with the election drawing closer it seems imperative that students learn every option they have when it concerns voting.

Absentee ballot voting is the process in which people that will not be able to make it to a polling station on election night fill out a sheet of paper that sends in their vote ahead of time. This process has mainly be reserved in the past for those who are out of state, physically ill, or have some other type of disability or scheduling conflict that will prohibit them from voting on election day. For the most part, this broad generalization includes college students and students who are from out of state and unable to make it to their hometown in time for the election. These students are given the opportunity to vote by absentee ballot, yet it is something that most committees don’t really feel the need to capitalize or advertise.

When Mark Wolosik, the division manager of Allegheny County Board of Elections, was asked whether or not college students should vote by absentee ballot he remarked, “If they are not in their municipality…but each student has to answer that individually. I can’t give a blank yes or no.”

According to the Allegheny County Board of election website, in order to vote by absentee ballot you must be a registered voter, unable to attend due to physical impairment or illness, or absent from your municipality during the time of the election. According to those standards, college students would fit the description of an absentee ballot voter.

In order to take part in the absentee ballot process, students need to contact their home county and request an absentee ballot form, fill it out and mail it back.

While this process seems simple enough in an interview with Donna Anderson, of Student Civic Engagement on-campus, she remarked the amount of students voting by absentee ballot was very small and most students found it to be a hassle.  While most students may not be voting by absentee ballots, Student Civic Engagement is going to be providing shuttle buses to take students off campus all day to the polls so that they can vote. In order to do this, however, students need to see Student Civic Engagement about changing their voting location. While it may make it easier on them for the moment, if they decide to switch schools or move back home they will have to change it yet again.

Student Civic Engagement will be providing students with the opportunity to fill out the absentee ballot application as well as information on changing your voter location.  They also have information when and where the shuttles will be taking students during Election Day.

Allegheny County Board of Elections also has information on their website about absentee ballots and contact information for their representatives.