University Students Adaptations to Early Voting

By Allesandra Plourde

“I literally did my research on Snapchat,” Justen Stall, a senior at the University of Dayton, said in an interview.

Stall changed his voter registration earlier in the semester to his school address so he could vote early in-person. “I did it for this election specifically,” Stall said. “In previous elections I had done it by absentee ballot.”

He said voting in person was an easy process and he felt better about going in person, “requesting a ballot and then mailing it is just very tedious,” Stall said. “I think everyone should vote, because it’s kind of the whole point of a democracy.”

Stall is among a group of university voters who have changed their voter registrations to their permeant address at school in order to vote early in person. This has led to a lack of information on local candidates in the counties they are voting in. “I have a couple political science friends that had internships for the local candidates,” said Stall. “I knew the names but other than that I didn’t really know anything.”

To do research beforehand Stall used snapchat to provide information about the candidates. “Snapchat had something where you could fill out a ballot in the app, which sounds ridiculous,” Stall said.

Snapchat now has a feature where voters can fill out their address and learn about the presidential candidates as well as their local candidates before going into vote or sending in their absentee ballot. It gives a step-by-step process for first time voters, has links to outside information and is essentially the same as filling out a regular ballot.

“So, I literally filled out my ballot on snapchat and took screenshots of it,” Stall said. “I was sitting there in the voting booth with snapchat open going through who I picked.” Ohio allows phones in the voting booth but does not allow pictures of ballots.  

Alexis Feidler a senior at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia like Stall changed her voter registration to her local school address for the presidential election. “There was a booth set up on campus and they used my student ID,” Feidler said in an interview. “The whole thing took two minutes.”

This allowed her to vote early in-person using her student ID as her form of identification. She said that voting in this presidential election was important to her because of the state of the country, “A huge push in particular this year is that if we have a president who doesn’t believe in science and climate change, we are literally putting the human race at risk for demise,” Feidler said. “As an American I am directly impacted by the result, voting isn’t just about what’s good for me as it is what’s good for most Americans.”

The Pennsylvania native expressed frustration for the lack of information on the Virginia candidates she was voting for in the immediate Lexington area.

She did her research while in the voting booth. She said she quickly scrambled to do online searches for the candidates’ platforms and still there wasn’t a lot of quick information. Virginia allows voters to have their phone out while voting but they are not allowed to take pictures of their ballot.

“It was hard to find information about them [candidates]; not so much the presidential part but local stuff,” Feidler said in an interview. “I feel like there wasn’t a lot publicized here.”

Tate Mueller is a nursing student at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania but her home state is North Carolina, so she decided to vote by absentee ballot. “I considered changing my address to my school address, but North Carolina is a swing state, so I wanted to stay there,” Mueller said in an interview.

Mueller said she wanted to make sure she did everything properly as a first-time voter, “I read through the instructions multiple times,” Mueller said. “Voting is so important to me because it’s my way of having power in the United States and it’s my way of giving my opinion.”

“A couple candidates I had to look-up and research,” said Mueller “And if I hadn’t done the mail in ballot, if I did it in person, I wouldn’t have had that access.” North Carolina allows voters phones to be with them while voting but prohibits photos and videos of the ballot.

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