Students cast absentee ballots

A+student+fills+out+an+absentee+ballot+for+the+November+elections.+55+percent+of+Loyola+students+can+vote+absentee+this+year.+Photo+credit%3A+Alliciyia+George

A student fills out an absentee ballot for the November elections. 55 percent of Loyola students can vote absentee this year. Photo credit: Alliciyia George

India Yarborough

Loyola University students Abigail Justice, Marisa Mosher and Richard de Schweinitz have three things in common: they are first-time voters in a national election, they will all vote absentee this November. Each agrees that citizens’ votes are their voices.

According to Loyola’s website, 60 percent of all undergraduate students are from out-of-state. 5 percent of that majority are international students, but theoretically, the other 55 percent of the student body should be voting via absentee ballot this year.

Mosher, political science freshman from Rhode Island, and Schweinitz, economics sophomore from Texas, each recently mailed their applications to their home towns to request absentee ballots. Some states, like Rhode Island and Texas, require residents voting out-of-state to complete this two-legged process of requesting a ballot by mail and then later casting a vote by mail, while other states only require potential absentee voters to call their local circuit clerks’ offices or fill out online applications asking to be sent an absentee ballot.

“It could be a lot easier,” Mosher said. “Especially the way we do it from Rhode Island because it’s two separate processes.”

She said having to mail in two separate documents leaves the fate of her application and ballot to other factors like the efficiency of the postal service.

“It’s stressful not knowing when the application would get there,” Mosher added.

Schweinitz, however, said his application and voting process have been easy and said he has not encountered difficulties.

“I thought it was pretty easy,” he said. “Any questions that I did have I could get answered pretty fast, and the form was pretty simple.”

Schweinitz said he thinks the information needed to maneuver the voting process is accessible, and he said students, especially on Loyola’s campus, tend to stay engaged.

“The information is definitely out there,” Schweinitz said.”The system is easy, the people are there, but that’s of course relating to my experiences with my own county. Other counties might find it more difficult.”

Justice, public relations junior from Nebraska, has already cast her vote, and she did not work through her hometown or home-state offices. Justice said she visited vote.org, which, for her, streamlined the absentee voting process.

“They help you fill out of bunch of information and request a document,” Justice said. “They sent me a big envelop in the mail including Nebraska elections, and I just got a stamp and mailed that in.”

Vote.org also allows citizens to register to vote and breaks down the voting process by state.

Roger White, political science professor and adviser for the Loyola Society for Civic Engagement, said the society and Loyola have helped students register to vote but have not offered guidance through the absentee voting process.

“Not only Civic Engagement, but Student Involvement has had voter registration drives,” White said. “We had to make sure we were registering people properly. We’re a 501(3) here at Loyola, so we have to be careful about doing anything that might be considered partisan.”

White said he has never voted absentee, so he doesn’t know much about that process, but he believes in the importance of voting in general and spreads that message to students in part through events the Society of Civic Engagement holds.

“Getting people together and having the open sharing of ideas [like during the debate watch parties] is a way to inform people and educate them on the issues,” White said.

Justice, Mosher and Schweinitz believe voting is essential in this year’s presidential election and beyond.

“It was such a simple process that it doesn’t make sense that someone wouldn’t exercise their right to vote,” Justice said.

Mosher added that students should vote up and down the ballot.

“It’s really important even if you hate both of the presidential candidates to vote all the way down the ballot because that affects local decisions,” she said.

Schweinitz thinks the upcoming presidential election is a tipping point in the United States’ democracy because he said it represents an upset populace.

“I want to show my civic engagement and how much I care about politics in this country,” Schweinitz said. “If we want the system to change, we’re really going to have to fight for it.”