Jamison Guice, Campus Carrier features editor
Zander Carver, Campus Carrier asst. features editor
Since 2016, the United States has witnessed political polarization due to varying issues between Republican and Democratic parties. Nov. 3 marks the upcoming Election Day where voters of any party are able to cast their local and state votes as well as presidential for either Republican nominee Donald Trump, who is running for a second term, or Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Living on campus may prevent students from in-person voting, but it does not prevent them from participating in the election, which is why it is important to know ballot options.
An absentee vote is targeted for people who are not able to make it to the polls in person, associate professor of political science Eric Sands said. For example, a person may be working, out of town due to school or family, or have an illness that prevents them from being in public places. So, an absentee vote allows voters the opportunity to be counted regardless of their situation.
“Some students live very far from home,” Sands said. “We have students from all over the country that attend this very college, and so it may just be impractical for them to be able to get home on Election Day and be able to vote where they’re registered.”
Even if Georgia students want to vote in-person, it would require overcoming obstacles to leave school. Sands mentioned the student would miss class, need permission from instructors and still have to drive a few hours away to their voting precinct.
“So, being able to vote absentee gives the students a way to participate in the election without the inconvenience of having to make it to the ballot box,” Sands said.
Absentee ballots are an opportunity to vote early regardless of location and participate in the democratic process. However, there are downsides to this ballot, since deadlines fall before Election Day. If there is a late-breaking story while a nominee is still on the campaign trail, an absentee voter is unable to change their minds if the event is truly groundbreaking, according to Sands.
“My advice is that if you are going to early vote or you’re going to absentee vote, to do it as close to the election as possible,” Sands said. “You know, pay very close attention to the rules about when ballots need to be in.”
However, in order to cast a ballot, a person must be registered to vote. At 18 years old, voting is both a right and a duty according to associate professor of government Michael Bailey.
“Really the only other duty that a typical person in their life as a citizen has is voting,” Bailey said.
According to Bailey, in recent years elections have seen fewer and fewer college-aged voters for each one, whether it be because of difficulties of being an absentee or lack of knowledge of the candidates.
Due to the higher percentages of people from older generations voting, that elected officials are paying more attention to those generations that are actually voting. As a result, younger generations have less say in their own futures, Bailey said.
“Younger people are the ones who need access to education, and need access to training,” Bailey said. “They need to have reasonable loans for houses, and be able to pay back debt and debt forgiveness. So young people also have a self-interested reason to know that they cannot be discounted.”