Absentee ballots an option for students

Scott Viau

With classes, exams and the other stresses of school, students have a lot on their mind. With the upcoming election, making sure their vote is counted is another added strain. Absentee ballots allow students who are not living in their voting district to vote for a candidate from their own district.

While absentee ballot rules will vary from state to state, according to city clerk Dave Bleau,  in Michigan there are a couple of different ways to go about doing it.

“You can get an application at the city clerk’s office or you can go online to the Secretary of State website,” Bleau said.

Bleau said that the amount of absentee ballots used will depend on the type of election being held.

“For the presidential election, we issued about 2,200. For the August primary election, it was less than 200. Going into the general election this year, we have over 800 we’ve issued.”

The deadline for an absentee ballot application is Oct. 30, and the ballot must be received in the clerk’s office by Nov. 2.

“In an emergency situation, if there’s time in the day, we’ll occasionally run a ballot out to somebody who is a shut-in or (has had) some unfortunate thing happen to them,” Bleau said. “I’ve done that about a half dozen times in my career.”

President of the student College Democrats Travis Crowe said he has been getting the word out about the importance of absentee ballots for students.

“When we did our voter registration efforts we tried to talk about (absentee ballots) a lot because we did a lot of one-on-one contact with students,” Crowe said.

Crowe said that the College Democrats were able to register around 500 students but found that people are reluctant to vote outside their home district.

“We try to mention (absentee ballots) as much as possible, to let students know that it’s a responsibility to vote, regardless of where (they) live,” Crowe said.

Crowe added that resources for absentee ballots are given out to students and that most of the information necessary is available online.

“It’s really easy for students to get on there, print it out and send it in,” Crowe said.

According to Crowe, it’s easier to vote absentee in Michigan than it is to actually register to vote since registering requires a 30-day period.

“Absentee ballots are something we talk about almost more than voter registration,” Crowe said.

Crowe said they’ve been talking to students in the dorm lobbies  and the academic mall about the election and added that, because it’s a mid-term election, they need to get the word out more than they did in ’08.

President of the NMU College Republicans Sarah Morris said they haven’t been directly working with students but are making sure friends and members of their organization are aware of absentee ballots.

“We’re sending them to the Michigan State Department website and checking out the Secretary of State (website) and making sure they make all the deadlines,” Morris said.

Morris added she hopes everyone who is absentee voting gets it on time.

“Just get out there and vote,” Morris said. “You need to voice your political opinion somehow.”