Out of state students navigate absentee voting ahead of midterms
By Vivian Sun/Daily Bruin
Nov. 6, 2022 11:39 p.m.
Voting as an out-of-state student in the upcoming midterms has several barriers, according to UCLA students.
Students who are not home can submit absentee or mail-in ballots in most states, according to the United States government. Out-of-state students make up less than 20% of UCLA’s undergraduate population.
Chelsea Greene, a second-year psychobiology student from Arizona, said her voting experience went smoothly overall, especially since Arizona does not mandate that voters provide reasons for receiving mail-in ballots.
Despite efforts to encourage voter turnout among students, Greene said, it is difficult to obtain information about voting out of state, adding that deadlines for voting are often unclear.
Voting by absentee ballot is also more than dropping off a ballot, said Ava Alexander, a second-year English student from Georgia. She said UCLA should help promote the use of absentee ballots and clarify its policies surrounding voting.
Sarah Reicher, a second-year chemical engineering student from New Jersey, said voting by mail went smoothly for her, despite a lack of support from UCLA.
Greene said it has been difficult learning about county-level candidates while away from home at UCLA. Having candidates on the ballot who deny the results of the 2020 presidential election makes this election particularly important, she added. Out of 597 registered Republicans running in statewide or federal elections, 308 of them deny the election results, according to CBS.
“It’s definitely scary,” she said. “It just makes it feel more real that your power as a voter has a chance to go away.”
Alexander said she has been following Georgia’s U.S. Senate race because it could determine the control of the Senate, which is currently split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans. Georgia is now on the edge between being a state that leans Republican or Democrat, she added.
The most important race for Reicher is the election for U.S. representative in New Jersey’s seventh congressional district, she said. Keeping that seat will help Democrats maintain control of the House of Representatives, which is currently narrowly split 220-212 in favor of Democrats, she said.
Greene said she has been watching most of the elections in Arizona ranging from the Senate to local county offices and school boards. Since Arizona is currently a swing state that leans conservative, she said the stakes of the elections are different from those in Los Angeles and Chicago, where voters are more reliably democratic and where she has lived previously.
“Obviously, every vote counts, but the difference between my vote in Arizona, versus in a place like Chicago or even here, definitely feels like if I don’t vote the consequences could be felt much more greatly,” Greene said.
It is important for voters to understand not only what is on the ballot in their state but also other states, especially those close by, Greene said, adding that many campaign issues are intertwined across state lines.
“I think the most important thing is just, if you’re an out-of-state student, then you should still send in your ballot even though you’re not home, and it can be a bit difficult at times because your vote does matter,” Reicher said.