Students grapple with where to cast ballots

by Alix Cody | 11/3/04 6:00am

With New Hampshire's presidential race predicted to be a dead heat, students grappled with the question of whether to vote in Hanover or in their home states. For many students from Florida, though, the decision was made for them when their state failed to send the absentee ballots soon enough.

Approximately three-fifths of students who voted cast ballots in New Hampshire, and two-fifths voted in their home states, according to estimates by the Young Democrats.

The major reason for voting in New Hampshire was that students felt their votes would "count more" here.

Students who voted in New Hampshire said they did not think that they were "cheating the system" by voting outside their home states.

Tessa Clare '05, who hails from Nebraska, said she felt entitled to vote in New Hampshire because, as a student, she has lived here for four years.

Jennifer Yu '08, a Republican, decided to vote in New Hampshire because she thought her vote would count more in the state's close election than in her home state of Connecticut. Yet she said the liberal sentiment on campus made her feel out of place.

"I felt very pressured to vote for Kerry," Yu said.

Many who decided to vote via absentee ballot felt confident their ballots had been received. One sophomore, Devin Riley '07, even called the town clerk of his small Vermont town to ensure his ballot was received.

The controversial state of Florida was the exception, with many students requesting absentee ballots from Florida either receiving them late or not at all. Meredith Druss '08 is from Broward County, a heavily Democratic jurisdiction in Florida, where according to reports from the Bloomberg news service, as many as 58,000 absentee ballots did not reach voters and 13,000 duplicate ballots had to be re-sent on Oct. 28 and 29.

Druss requested an absentee ballot when she registered to vote in Florida in September. When she hadn't received it in October, Druss called election workers, who told her they were sending absentee ballots by overnight mail. When Druss still had not received her ballot Tuesday, she decided to register in New Hampshire.

"It is a pain because Florida has 27 electoral votes versus New Hampshire's four," Druss said.

Another Florida resident, Alex Mesa '08 had similar problems. She received her absentee ballot late and had to send it back to Florida by overnight mail to ensure it was received. She said she felt like the ballots were sent late purposely in an attempt to benefit President Bush.

"If I didn't send it, I would have felt like they won," Mesa said.

Students' reasons for voting absentee in states that were not swing states varied from concern for local issues to simply not wanting to deal with the crowds at the polls.

Lisa Warren '07 voted in Wyoming, her home state, because she was interested in a tight House of Representatives race.

Warren also said she feels more justified voting at home because she knows more about the elections there than in New Hampshire.