Absentee Voting Issues Spur Students to Travel, or Not Vote

While other students were standing in line at polling places around campus Tuesday, Kate S. Hoffman ’17 was boarding a plane in order to cast her vote.

Hoffman is one of several students who ran into issues while attempting to vote by absentee ballot in time for the 2016 Election. Students who did not receive their ballots were left with few options; some chose to travel home to vote while others were resigned to not voting at all.

Hoffman used TurboVote, a voter registration software that also helps with absentee ballots, to request her ballot. As Election Day approached and she still had not received her ballot, she said she called her county’s election commission office and was told she had not requested a ballot. After receiving the news, she made the decision to fly home to Dallas, Texas, to vote.

“I’m just really interested in leaving the world a better place than when I found it and I think that voting is an important way to do that,” Hoffman said from Dallas.

Michael F. Hissey ’18, a resident of Suffolk County in Long Island, applied for an absentee ballot in late September. When no ballot arrived, he said the elections commission referred him to the postal service. Hissey made the decision to travel back to New York for Election Day as well.

“I decided there was no way that I was not going to vote,” Hissey said from his home in Long Island. “I had actually been saving up some money to buy a coat and instead I ended up spending that money on an Amtrak ticket.”

Anna T. Weschler ’18, a supporter of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, said she requested a New Jersey absentee ballot about three weeks before Election Day.

“I knew that was a little late, but I thought I would have enough time, but the ballot just came in the mail yesterday,” she said. Because she could not make the deadline to send in her ballot under New Jersey’s voting rules, Weschler resigned herself to not voting.

While registering to vote in Massachusetts is an option for students, many choose to vote absentee in their home states for a variety of reasons. For Hissey, it was a matter of perceived convenience, as he was already registered in New York.

Hoffman said she chose to register in Texas instead of Massachusetts because she felt that her vote could make a bigger difference in her home state.

“My political values are slightly different than the mainstream Texas political value, which is why I really wanted to go home to vote,” she said. “Especially being a woman from Texas, it was really important for me to make a difference that way."

Weschler expressed a similar sentiment about wanting her vote in her home state to make a difference.

“New Jersey is very blue, but I figured it was a little less blue than Massachusetts, so I had wanted to contribute to Hillary however I could,” she said.