Jessie Cheung, Contributing Photographer

Most respondents to a recent survey by the News about undergraduate students’ attitudes on the voting process found voting easy, but many students still struggled to vote.

1,081 undergraduate students responded to the survey between Wednesday and Friday of last week, resulting in a response rate of 18 percent among all undergraduates. 1,006 respondents — over 93 percent of total respondents — are registered to vote in the United States, and nearly 87 percent of those individuals had already voted at the time of filling out the survey prior to Election Day. While 135 respondents had not voted at the time of the survey, 93 percent of them plan to vote on or before Nov. 3. 

However, despite the fact that most respondents who had already voted or plan to vote have found the voting process to be “somewhat easy” or “extremely easy,” 17.1 percent of respondents found voting to be difficult and feel dissatisfied with their state’s voting process this year.

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“I think that Yale is doing a lot to make it easier to vote, but this country doesn’t want us to vote fundamentally, so the odds are stacked against us,” Vy Tran ’21 said.

Tran currently lives in New Haven, but she is registered to vote in her home state of Texas. Tran described the process of getting her absentee ballot as a “tumultuous experience,” citing what she called Yale’s late announcement that election mail can be sent to residential college offices, confusion over how much postage was required for her ballot and worries about meeting her state’s voting deadlines. Although she mailed in her ballot, Tran fears that her vote may not be counted because she is unsure if she used the proper amount of postage.

Although Tran wanted to vote in the 2018 election, she was unable to vote after her absentee ballot — which she says she requested four separate times from her Board of Elections in Texas — never arrived.

However, Tran mentioned how helpful it was to get assistance from the Yale Votes Texas voter captain this year. According to the survey, Yale Votes was the most widely used campus resource to assist respondents with voting, with 223 respondents mentioning them in the survey. 285 registered voters — 28 percent of all survey respondents — used at least one type of campus resource.

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Daniel Edison ’23 and Nicholas Cerny ’24 experienced similar difficulties when voting in Texas. Both Edison and Cerny began the process of requesting their absentee ballots in the summer, expressing skepticism at Texas’s voting infrastructure.

Edison’s initial absentee ballot application was never received by his local Board of Elections, as he discovered by making “a proactive effort to be early and follow up.” He immediately mailed in a second ballot application and eventually received his ballot, albeit nearly two months after his initial application.

“If I didn’t intentionally begin this process with skepticism in Texas’s capacity to support my vote (and I get to [say] that from the most privileged point possible, there are millions of Texans with higher barriers than I) I may not have had so much time to spare and my vote may not have been counted,” Edison wrote in an email to the News.

Cerny also had a difficult time getting his ballot. After sending in his absentee ballot request at the beginning of September, he checked in with his local Board of Elections when he had not received any acknowledgement of his ballot request, nor his ballot, by early October. When his Board of Elections told him that he would have to send in a letter formally requesting a second ballot, he feared that the chances of his vote arriving by the closing of the polls on Election Day — Texas’s deadline for accepting absentee ballots — were slim.

While his initial ballot eventually came in time, he commented that it seemed like the difficult process was “an active attempt to suppress [his] vote.” He explained that while he will not speak for all voters, this seems to be a commonly held viewpoint among Yalies from Texas.

49 percent of survey respondents registered to vote in Texas who have already voted said it was “somewhat difficult” or “extremely difficult” to vote, compared to 17 percent overall.

However, most survey respondents did not find voting to be difficult. John Brockmeier ’22 is one of those respondents. Brockmeier is currently living in Colorado but is registered in his home state of Nebraska. While he does not believe the voting system in Nebraska is perfect, he voiced his opinion that his county has done a good job of making the absentee ballot application process easier.

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Brockmeier voted by mail, which he thought was “easy,” given the relatively small number of ballots cast and processed in his home county.

“I think the reasons for voting for state and federal offices are the clearest, and most important, they’ve been in my lifetime,” Brockmeier wrote in an email to the News. “But I also love voting for the local offices such as school board and city council that directly affect my younger siblings and family.”

Almost 70 percent of survey respondents were “somewhat satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with their state’s voting process this year.

According to the survey, an overwhelming majority of respondents — over 75 percent — said that they voted by mail or plan to vote by mail. David Metrick ’24 is not one of them. A resident of New Haven, he plans to vote in person on Election Day, adding that it felt irresponsible of him to add stress to the “already overstressed mail-in ballot situation nationwide” when he is able to cast an in-person ballot. He believes that voting will be a relatively easy process for him.

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This is the first general election in which he is eligible to vote.

“I’m voting because it’s the most consequential thing a United States citizen can do,” Metrick wrote in an email to the News. “I strongly believe in the democratic process and, specifically for this year, feel that a radical change of who is in power is required.”

Of the 871 undergraduate students who filled out the survey indicating that they had already voted, just under 10 percent are registered to vote in Connecticut.

Data analysis and visualizations by Ashley Qin. Contact her at

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