When students come to college, it doesn’t mean they have to give up voting in their home counties.
Many Penn State students have been choosing to vote in their home states and counties by absentee ballot rather than in Centre County for the upcoming election.
Students who want to vote by absentee ballot must fill out a form for the county in which they are registered to vote, said Joyce McKinley, director of elections for Centre County, and a ballot will be mailed to the address that the elector places on the application.
Philip Chow (freshman-aerospace engineering) from Malvern said he stayed registered at home because he wants to take part in school board elections and wants the opportunity to affect change.
“I think the people running [the school board] are going in the wrong direction,” he said.
But Penn State political science professor Michael Berkman said he thought early voting was more important than absentee ballots.
Some states like Ohio and Iowa allow people to begin voting well before the election date, he said. Campaigns try to get people in these states to vote earlier when a candidate has a lead in the polls that he may not have by the election date, he said.
“In Ohio, they may already have cast 10 percent of the ballots that were cast in 2008,” Berkman said.
In campaigns like this, a vote that has been cast is always better than one that has not been cast, so they often encourage people to vote early, he said.
Berkman also said absentee ballots tend to be more important in close races because they are counted after the regular ballots. Also, they tend to lean Republican, because people who travel use them — since they are able to — and people in the military.
However, Berkman said, in this election, the military population may not actually lean Republican. And, those kinds of votes, especially military votes, are important this election in Florida and Virginia, Berkman said.
Laura Dromerick (freshman-theater) said she chose to stay registered at home in Potomac, Md. because she knows Maryland’s representatives better than the Pennsylvanian ones. However, she said she found mailing the paper ballot in an envelope was daunting in comparison to what it would be like to vote on a computer at a voting booth.
In the technological age, Dromerick said she would not be surprised if others who were voting for the first time by absentee ballot felt the same way.
On the other hand, Rob Bablak (freshman-finance) said he is voting by absentee ballot because when he changed his registration to Centre County, the form was never submitted.
So, instead of changing his voting location, Bablak requested an absentee ballot from his hometown, Warren County.