Yalies vote absentee despite challenges

Eager to have their votes counted in key swing states in the Nov. 2 presidential election, many Yalies are putting in the extra work to register and vote in their home states by absentee ballot.

Though the most recently released poll in Connecticut indicates that the presidential race in the state remains fairly close, many students said the popular consensus on campus, as well as in the media, is that Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry ’66 will win Connecticut by a comfortable margin. As a result, many students from swing states said they thought their votes would count more back home.

Roughly 800 students at Yale come from the 11 states — including Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan — where, according to The New York Times, closely contested elections have drawn the majority of both major candidates’ resources and attention.

To encourage voting, some campus political organizations went door-to-door in dorms this fall, helping students register for absentee ballots, often directing them to Web sites with registration forms and information.

In some states more than others, registering by absentee ballot can be an ordeal.

“I was actually sort of surprised by the number of people who are willing to go through the number of steps it takes, because it is rather complicated,” said Maren Ludwig ’05, registrar of voters for the Yale College Democrats.

Some states make it particularly difficult for students to vote absentee, including Missouri, which requires that absentee ballots be notarized, and Michigan, where absentee voters must have previously voted in person. Michigan’s policy drew criticism from some students who said it constituted disenfranchisement of college students, most of whom are too young to have previously voted.

Nonetheless, several students from Michigan said they had received absentee ballots in the mail despite not meeting the criteria.

“They sent me an absentee ballot with no problem,” Andrew Banooni ’07 said. “I just had to either write them a letter or send a fax, and the most difficult part was figuring out how to fax something from Yale.”

Sylvia Reimers ’05, a Missouri resident, said she did not have much difficulty in voting absentee despite having to get her ballot notarized.

“I just went to a bank and asked them if they had a notary,” she said. “It was a pretty simple process.”

Florida resident Stuart Prenner ’07 said absentee voting was less straightforward due to a lack of information regarding when his ballot would arrive. He said he waited three weeks after submitting the paperwork to get his ballot, which finally came in the mail days before the voting deadline.

Regardless of this complication, Prenner said it was worth going through the trouble because Florida is a key battleground state.

“I also think it’s more important in Florida because the normal elections there don’t have a paper trail,” Prenner said. “The absentee ballots, I think, will absolutely be counted because you can’t really have a discrepancy with them.”

Banooni said he thought voting absentee was also important for participating in local elections.

“That’s my home, and there are other, smaller elections that make more of a difference in my particular household than Connecticut elections,” he said.

Rachel Jeffers ’07 looks over her absentee ballot. Many students that live in swing states have taken the extra steps required for absentee voting.
Beth Ramenofsky
Rachel Jeffers ’07 looks over her absentee ballot. Many students that live in swing states have taken the extra steps required for absentee voting.

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