Student voters weigh options, vote absentee

Many GW students have beat others to the ballot box by casting their vote for president through absentee ballots to their home states.

Registering at their home county offices, students have received ballots in the past few weeks. Students must fill out the ballots and mail them to their county offices by their home state’s deadline. Absentee voting allows people to vote in their home district if they are unable to return home for election day Nov. 7.

I chose to vote in the New York election because D.C. does not have a vote in Congress and the Senate and presidential races in my state are very close, freshman Rachael Copp said.

New York and New Jersey voters must submit absentee ballots by Tuesday. Absentee ballots in battleground states such as Illinois and Pennsylvania are due Thursday and Friday, respectively. With the exception of several small states, all ballots are due before Election Day. Deadlines for requesting absentee ballots are already past.

GW College Democrats President Anjan Choudhury and GW College Republicans Chairman Bill Eldridge said their organizations have coordinated semester-long efforts to provide students with voter registration materials. They said they encourage students who have registered to visit their offices in the Marvin Center.

It is really your personal choice, but most GW students are more aware of issues back home than the local politics in D.C. concerning statehood and taxes, said Choudhury, explaining why many students decided to vote with absentee ballots. Many students are also from battleground states like Pennsylvania and New York where the election will be close and every vote could make a difference.

The District has been a Democratic stronghold in past presidential elections – in 1996 Democratic incumbent President Clinton garnered 158,220 votes, while Republican nominee Sen. Bob Dole managed 17,339. Some students, including freshman Elizabeth Morrow, said they think their vote would make more of a difference at home.

I want to vote for Al Gore and it will make a bigger difference in New Hampshire than in D.C., she said.

The deadline to register to vote in the District was Oct. 10.

I have been registered as a D.C. voter for two years because it is the community I live in, said senior Jeff Marootian, who is a candidate for the Advisory Neighborhood Commission. I feel that it has the greatest impact on my life.

Eldridge said he encourages all students to make an effort to vote, whether in their home states or D.C.

It is your civic duty to vote if you’re an American citizen and no matter whether you vote locally or absentee, it is important that you exert your influence in the electoral process, he said.

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