Absentee voting becoming a trend for college students
Christine Mazzocchi, a graduate student of education at American University in Washington DC originally from West Nyack, New York, cast her absentee ballot for New York’s 17th district Congressional race well before Election Day. She also voted before American University hosted its first ever “Absentee Ballot Day,” an event held in late September whereby staff members on campus helped students fill out and mail absentee request forms free of charge. Mazzocchi says the event was helpful for those students who hadn’t yet thought to vote for candidates in their home district elections.
“I think we are slowly moving in the right direction,” Mazzocchi said, “making this more of a common thing on college campuses around the country.”
Nationally, the numbers show an increase of absentee ballots being submitted compared to the last midterm election in 2014. According to University of Florida political science professor Dr. Michael McDonald, who also runs the website ElectProject.org, elected officials recorded 27.5 million mail and in-person early votes during the 2014 midterm election. This year, McDonald says there have already been 34.3 million early votes recorded and that number is expected to rise to a projected 40 million.
On Long Island, David Gugerty, Democratic Commissioner of the Nassau County Board of Elections said his office was also doing its part to inform Long Island colleges and high schools about the absentee voting process.
“This year we had a record number of visits to high schools, colleges, and community events,” Gugerty said. “We had 36 total voter demonstrations, so that’s over three a month.”
“In the youngest age group (18-24), we’ve seen a 265 percent increase in ballots requested between the 2014 election and the 2018 election which are both midterm elections,” Gugerty added. “It’s a very significant increase.”
For those who don’t know how to properly fill out their absentee ballot, there is assistance available. Republican Deputy Clerk Joseph Ra of the Nassau County Board of Elections said the Board is there to ensure that every vote is counted.
“Even if people send in an incomplete application we’ll write them a letter, tell them what’s wrong with it, and ask them to fill out another one,” Ra said. “Voters should absolutely be confident. We do an excellent job ensuring that anyone who wants an absentee ballot gets one and their vote counts.”