Out-of-area students opt for absentee ballots

Some students opt to vote in their home areas using absentee ballots even while they are attending UNA because their votes mean more to them in local elections or in swing states.

The country will elect a new president Nov. 16.  Or re-elect the previous one.

Regardless of students’ political beliefs and affiliations, if they aren’t registered to vote in Lauderdale County, they’ll need to get an absentee ballot to participate.

“In the state of Alabama, absentee ballots are available to people who are temporarily living outside the county in which they’re registered or to those who are ill or physically disabled and are unable to make it to the polling place,” said Tim Collins, professor of political science. “Ideally, it’s if you’re going to be out of the country or if you’re a student and you’re away at school.”

Students can register to vote at rockthevote.com. Students can check their registration and print out an absentee ballot application at longdistancevoter.org.

“Make sure you apply for it and think ahead,” Collins said.

According to longdistancevoter.org, the deadline for the absentee ballot application is Nov. 1. The actual ballot must be postmarked by the day before the election and received by noon the day of the election if mailed. If hand delivered, it must be received by 5 p.m. the day before the election.

“(Absentee ballots) are more convenient,” said UNA senior Atticus Wright. “You’re exercising your rights as a citizen to vote.”

Though these two students are getting absentee ballots, “a significant number do change registration to where they are,” Collins said.

“College students are notorious for not voting in as large a percentage as older voters,” Collins said. “For students, the issues are abstracted, and they tend to be more transient. They don’t think their vote matters because they don’t know how to make it matter. The more you get involved in the process (of voting), the more you can affect the process.

“A few votes can make a big difference. It’s kind of a duty of citizenship.”

Collins said students should stay informed on the issues before voting.

Collins said UNA makes this possible for students by airing the presidential and vice presidential debates.

If students can’t make it to these, the debates are also aired on YouTube. 

According to debates.org, the debates are Oct. 11, Oct. 16 and Oct. 22.  Each debate starts at 8 p.m. and lasts until 9:30 p.m.