Many AU students will vote for the first time this election. Most will use the absentee ballot system because they are too far from home to vote at their registered polling place, but some have had complications in receiving their ballots.
To vote via an absentee ballot, Americans must first register to vote and can then request a ballot by sending in a form to the state in which they are registered. Absentee ballots must be received by 8 p.m. Nov. 4, so they must be sent ahead of time for them to arrive.
There have been problems with the absentee ballot system both this year and in previous elections. James Fallows, who wrote “Our Bumpy Electoral System” for The Atlantic’s Oct. 30 issue, said there have been numerous cases in which people requested absentee ballots this year but never received them. Fallows requested his ballot eight weeks before the election but had not received it as of Friday.
Some state governments have not mailed out many of the requested absentee ballots. In Denver this year, 18,055 ballots went undelivered, according to The Washington Post.
Brittany La Forge, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, said she is upset that she has not received her absentee ballot, even though she requested it weeks ago.
“I don’t trust the absentee ballot system because I never got my ballot in the mail,” she said. “I registered more than a month before the elections and requested one, but it never came.”
Garret Bonosky, a freshman in the School of Public Affairs, said he had difficulty receiving his ballot.
“I voted with an absentee ballot,” he said. “Even though it was kind of difficult through the state of New York, I eventually received it. I had to call several times to receive my ballot and they had to send out two copies because they lost the first one.”
Joe Rice, a freshman in the Kogod School of Business, said most of the people he knows at AU voted by absentee ballot.
“I voted with an absentee ballot, but I have a friend that registered to vote in D.C., because he wanted the authentic voting booth experience,” he said.
The 2000 election shows the importance of every vote, which demonstrates the significance of every absentee ballot. In 2000, George W. Bush won Florida - the state that pushed him over the 270 electoral vote threshold - by 537 votes. If thousands of absentee ballots go missing, those votes are not counted, which could affect the turnout of the election.
The number of absentee ballots cast as part of this year’s presidential election cold total 10 percent of the vote. More than 200,000 ballots have been mailed, and more than 136,000 ballots have been returned as of Oct. 30, according to Bay News 9, a TV news station in St. Petersburg, Fla.