October 22, 2004

How to Vote Out of State

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Election Day is still twelve days away, but many Cornell students cast their votes months ago. Through absentee ballots, students may affect elections in their home state or county without stepping foot in the polling booth.

Deadlines for requesting absentee ballots differ by each state. In New York, requests must be postmarked by Oct. 26. The Board of Elections may not receive completed absentee ballots later than Nov. 9. Registered voters may download an absentee ballot application on their respective county’s Board of Elections website. Once voters have received their application, they may either send it or bring it in person to their Board of Election office.

While all states offer some form of early voting, new laws allow registered voters in more than half of the states to send in absentee ballots without explaining their reasons for doing so. Once limited solely to voters who were out of their county on Election Day or were unable to reach the polls because of illness or physical disability, absentee voting has increased in popularity because of its ease and is now known as “voting-by-mail.”

Prof. Nicholas Winter, government, said that the increase in popularity for absentee voting is because the rules for requesting ballots are more liberal than they once were. “As voting absentee gets easier, people push towards it,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see more absentee voting in the future, as it makes it easier to vote,” Winter added.

In Ithaca, the number of requests for absentee ballots has increased for this election from years past. Steve DeWitt, Tompkins County commissioner of elections, said that so far the Board of Elections has received about 3200 requests for absentee ballots, an increase of approximately 19 percent from the number of requests made in the 2000 presidential election.

Many states have recently pushed for early voting. Some, including Winter, believe it leads to increased voter turnout, while helping to mitigate the crush on Election Day.

26 states and Washington D.C. now allow “voting by mail” — an increase of six states from the 2000 election. One state, Oregon, completely did away with polling in 1996 and now relies solely on “voting-by-mail.”

Some Cornell students living in battleground states have chosen to cast an absentee ballot for their home state because they feel as if their vote may have more of an impact than in the heavily Democratic New York State.

Chance Carraway ’08 of Colorado Springs, Colo. said that because he is a Democrat he would rather cast his vote in Colorado, a swing state which he expects may go Republican.

“My vote will probably count a lot more in Colorado than here,” he said. “I definitely believe that my vote will make a difference. Even though Colorado will probably go Republican it’s better for me to at least try.”

Other students are voting through absentee ballots with hopes not of influencing the presidential race, but the senatorial and congressional ones.

Jonathan Berry ’08 from Atlanta, Ga. said that he is certain Georgia will go in favor of Bush. However, Berry said he will vote by absentee ballot because he has an interest in Georgia’s congressional and senatorial races.

“I’ve worked on a bunch of campaigns and have more of a stake in those elections,” Berry said. “I’m only in Ithaca for four years, but Georgia is my home.”

Archived article by Olivia Oran
Sun Staff Writer