Friday, July 19

Absentee ballots increase students’ voting access promote students to voice opinions


Absentee ballots increase students’ voting access promote
students to voice opinions

By Michelle Best

Daily Bruin Contributor

UCLA students 18- to 24-years-old fall into the age group which
comprises 15 percent of the voting-age population of the United
States.

However, only half of this group has registered to vote, and
just 40 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds said they voted in 1992.

With California’s primary elections just around the corner -
which includes selecting presidential candidates – students have at
their disposal an increasingly accessible role in the political
process.

In addition to the four polling places around campus, student
voters and other Californians can take advantage of absentee-ballot
voting, or what has come to be known as "vote by mail."

Beginning in 1978, rigid eligibility restrictions have been
eliminated in California, allowing anyone to vote by mail. In the
nearly 20 years since then, more and more Californians have chosen
to vote from their homes through the mail.

Absentee voting is available to anyone who cannot – or does not
wish to – go to the polls on election day. As an absentee, these
people submit their ballot by mail or in person to the registrar of
voters prior to election day.

At least one UCLA student felt that absentee voting expanded
voting accessibility and convenience.

"Because I do not want to re-register in a new district, (voting
by absentee ballot])has made voting more convenient for me," said
P. Anita Mesri, a third-year political science student. "Because I
live at UCLA temporarily, and can’t make it home to vote in my
district’s local elections, I can still cast my vote for
representatives in my district by voting by mail."

Voting by mail has become increasingly popular over the last
number of years. According to the Los Angeles County Registrar of
Voters, the number of votes received by absentee ballot is
increasing with each major election.

Despite the increase in absentee voting, one state official said
it was not clear whether mail ballots have increased voter
participation.

"At this point, to know whether absentee voting has actually
increased overall voting participation is uncertain. However over
in its many years of use people continue to take advantage of it,"
said Shirley Washington, spokeswoman for California’s Secretary of
State. "Speculation is that it will be increasingly used because of
its convenience."

As well as aiding the voter, absentee voting often benefits
political parties. Increasingly, political parties and campaign
consultants attempt to encourage inactive supporters through
absentee participation as a way to bolster and maintain an active
constituency.

James Finn, director of the California Campaign Against
Political Corruption, said that voting by mail helped make state
elections more democratic.

"Aside from making voting more convenient, absentee voting
reaches voters to give them a voice that would otherwise go
unheard, as well as providing active voters, who may no longer be
able to come out to the polls, a way to have their say."

To vote by the absentee process for the March 26 ballot, the
last date to apply for an absentee ballot is March 19. After March
19, voters must obtain an absentee voting ballot directly from the
Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters.

All absentee ballots must be either dropped off at polling
places or mailed sufficiently in time to arrive at the registrar by
8 p.m. on election day.

Some local voting locations:

310 De Neve Drive (Rieber Hall), 11025 Strathmore Drive, 10918
Strathmore Drive and 515 Landfair Avenue.

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