Students stray from voting, dislike process
While this presidential election is the first in which many students are finally of voting age, several students are unsure they will cast their ballot.
Adam Rubenstein, a sophomore undeclared major in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, said the Electoral College deters him from voting because he feels his vote does not count.
“I hate the Electoral College — it eliminates the whole idea of one person, one vote,” he said.
The Electoral College is not an ideal system, said Robert McClure, a professor of political science and public affairs. But any change to the voting system would require an amendment to the Constitution and that is “just not going to happen,” he said.
The two main contenders for the presidential race are Republican nominee Gov. Mitt Romney and Democratic nominee President Barack Obama.
While Rubenstein said he is “politically aware,” he admitted not knowing how to apply for an absentee ballot, or where to vote.
Voting through hard-copy mail is one reason voters are discouraged from going through the process of registering, especially for absentee ballots, said Monica Ulloa, a junior policy studies and international relations dual major.
“I like the idea of online voting,” she said. “Sometimes people are just too lazy to take that extra step.”
But McClure does not view online voting as favorable.
No registration gimmicks are going to change the electorate’s attitude toward politics, he said. Online voting would just create more problems.
“If you want to participate, it’s not rocket science,” McClure said.
Ulloa said she was investigating her options in the process of voting earlier this year and ultimately decided to register in Syracuse.
“I’m from Los Angeles so I went through the whole absentee ballot struggle,” she said.
In many states, some have already voted through absentee ballots. These ballots are offered in all 50 states, including the District of Columbia, but 21 states require an excuse for filing an absentee ballot, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures website.
Voting is a basic right as an American, so you should be emphasizing that no matter what.
Zach Weiss, Executive director of College of Republicans
To receive an absentee ballot, an individual must contact his or her county’s local board of elections. Absentee ballots must be sent back to the board by Election Day.
For New York state voters, Oct. 30 is the last day to postmark an application or letter of application by mail for an absentee ballot, according to the New York State Board of Elections website.
Ulloa said she felt navigating the process was made easier thanks to voting workshops and information sessions held by various greek and political organizations on campus to encourage students to register.
“I even convinced two of my friends to vote,” she said.
Both Gabrielle Levy of College Democrats and Zach Weiss of College Republicans said their organizations are always available to assist students with registering for absentee ballots.
Weiss and Levy both said their organizations offer students support regardless of political affiliations.
“Voting is a basic right as an American, so you should be emphasizing that no matter what,” said Weiss, executive director of College Republicans.
College Democrats helps connect students to volunteer opportunities such as canvassing or holding phone banks for candidates, said Levy, communications director of College Democrats.
“We work hard to create a comfortable environment for debate and positive discussion,” she said.
College students often don’t have strong positions and are still developing their political standpoints, which results in apathy in some cases, Levy said.
Kathryn Sitarz, a senior fashion design major, is one of those people.
“I never registered to vote but I already know the outcome of the vote in my district,” said Sitarz, who is from a heavily Republican district in Connecticut.
She said her vote won’t change the results of her district and whoever is elected may not even affect her.
“If someone actually notified me about registering, I might vote,” she said. “But I would not seek it out on my own.”
Levy said she also shares similar concerns about online voting.
“I think that making it that easy to vote may allow or enable people to vote hurriedly and without a lot of consideration,” she said.
Voting may not be available at the tips of one’s fingers, McClure said, but there is ample opportunity to participate if interested.
“I’ve got no sympathy for them,” said McClure in reference to students too lazy to apply for an absentee ballot or register to vote.
Another hurdle to interest in voting is finding a candidate to support, said Wendy Feng, a junior policy studies major.
Feng said she has not decided whom she is voting for in the upcoming presidential election.
“I know a lot of people not voting,” she said. “Its hard because I don’t really like either candidate.”
Joe Vendetti, a sophomore geography major, said he knows of some people not voting because of indifference toward the candidates. But, he said that most of his friends are very enthusiastic about voting.
Bill Coplin, a professor of public affairs and director of the public affairs program, said the number of students who don’t vote does not concern him.
He said he does not see voter apathy as an issue and said participation is more of the goal than actually changing the outcome of the elections.
“Am I upset that students are too lazy to vote? No,” Coplin said. “In a democracy, people do what they want to do.”
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