USC students discuss mail-in voting

first_imgThough Election Day is on Nov. 8, for millions of Americans it has already come and gone. According to the U.S. Election Project, over 40 million Americans — including many USC students — have cast their ballots early, whether because they prefer voting by mail or because they are not going to be physically present at a polling place on Election Day. And for many college students, mail-in voting dramatically increases the ease and likelihood of participating in the electoral process.“I always mailed in my ballots, so it all came rather intuitively after I came here for school,” said Ryan Smith, a junior majoring in business administration who is using an absentee ballot to vote in his home state of Washington. “The biggest reason is ease. I don’t have a car here, but the post office on campus is on my walk to class.”Julienna Law, a sophomore majoring in print and digital journalism, also cited convenience as the primary reason why she and many of her friends are using mail-in ballots. Law said she believes mail-in voting not only allows students to vote when it is most suitable for them, but that it also ensures people have the opportunity to research propositions, senators and representatives on the ballot while in the comfort of their own homes.“One of the advantages of voting by mail is that you have time to think about your decisions and research the propositions thoroughly,” Law said. “If I were in a polling station, and I was confused about what to vote for, I may randomly make a decision and that isn’t helpful.”According to Smith, the negativity characterizing much of this election has caused some of his friends to feel disappointed in the system. He said that mail-in ballots offer an easier path to voting for students who may otherwise not have the motivation to go out to a polling station.“I know several friends who are very disillusioned by this election and lack the incentive to make the trip out to polling stations,” Smith said. “Mailing-in provides near minimal effort for equal voice.”Law said that she believes if mail-in voting were not an option, college student voter turnout would decrease, because many students may not be able to find the time to make it out to a polling place.“The convenience factor of mail-in voting allows for higher turnout rates,” Law said. “I don’t have a car, so it’s harder for me to get to a polling place. The option of mailing in a ballot opens up an opportunity for more people to vote, especially those who may live far from a polling station.”Noha Ayoub, a sophomore majoring in law, history and culture, is not mailing in her ballot. While she acknowledged the importance of offering people different ways to vote, she said that physically going to a polling station serves as a bonding experience for everyone who is present.“While voting by mail still fulfills what I believe to be a civic duty and is therefore always positive, voting in person allows for communal voting which I think heightens the experience,” Ayoub said. “I think voting with others, in person, fosters communal civic engagement that makes voting a more positive experience.”Nevertheless, Ayoub said that regardless of whether or not a person is voting in-person or via a mail-in ballot, the controversial nature of this election has inspired citizens to get more involved in politics.“This election has become so polarized that the stakes on both sides of the political spectrum have skyrocketed and thus motivated people to vote,” Ayoub said. “I think we will see higher voter turnout rates, which is a good thing, because it shows that people are becoming more engaged in our country’s electoral process.”last_img

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