This week, as part of a Residence Life initiative, my team and I held a station where residents could come and fill out a voter registration form, as well as an absentee ballot form. The voter registration form takes about five minutes to fill out and is available online (and I have to say that the DMV site actually does make it rather easy to register). The absentee ballot allows people to vote if they are going to be absent on the day of the election. However, the absentee ballot is a mail-in-only form that is accompanied by a long list of requirements and deadlines. It is a tedious, and rather ancient, process that I believe is a deterrent to young voters.
Essentially, one fills out a short form which is sent to that individual’s county’s board of elections and must be postmarked by November 1. The ballot is then approved by the board, and sent back to the voter. Once you receive the ballot, you then must fill it out and send it BACK to your county, postmarked by November 7.
All of these procedures must be followed for you to be able to vote in this years presidential election. While helping residents fill out these voter forms, a lot of them were confused about filling out the correct headings on their letters. Of course they are! Now that the internet exists, postal mail is nearly obsolete when it comes to sending and receiving information. That would be like asking my parents’ generation to deliver their ballot by horseback.
I believe that the absentee ballot hinders young people’s’ right to vote. From ages 18 through 24, a critical percentage of the voter population, a lot of students are going away to college or the military. They are leaving their personal residence, but not truly vacating it. This means that for them to have their voices heard, they must go through the procedures above to submit a vote. Conversely, all our parents and grandparents have to do is drive to the local high school, cast their vote and go home.
It’s hard enough to get young people to vote in both the primary elections and the presidential election. Adding extra steps and inconveniences is not going to get people to the polls. This coming election is going to shape our country for the next four years and beyond. It’s going to decide whether our next Supreme Court judge, who will be in office for life I remind you, is a liberal or a conservative. It will likely decide our generation’s future immigration policies. It will incite the creation or loss of our generation’s jobs. These are a few of the thousands of problems that are going to affect our generation and the generations after us. We are the one’s who should be dictating which officials are best fit to serve our country and our needs as individuals. The least they could do is make it easier for us to be heard.