BU Students Face-to-Face with Voting Dilemma

By Hannah Allen
BU News Service 

BOSTON–While the buzz from today’s presidential elections focuses primarily on issues facing the nation, one traditional, timeless question still faces Boston University students: absentee vs. live voting?

At the university, where approximately 80% of students come from out of state, and many of those count themselves as first-time voters, their choice of voting venue comes down to their judgments about issues, post-graduation plans and the power of their vote in home states where the election may very well be a close call. Many choose based on where they feel most invested, where they feel most knowledgeable about the candidates, or where they plan to live permanently.

For Hannah Walters (CAS’13), a second-time voter and native of Raleigh, North Carolina, voting absentee was a choice she made based on the weight her ballot would carry.

“My choice to vote absentee was 100% because I am from a swing state. If I had been from some other typically blue state, I would have just voted in Massachusetts,” says the Environmental Policy and Analysis major who adds that the local issues back home are “still very important to me” and that even though it’s difficult she does try to stay informed about political developments in North Carolina.

Alexandra Kramer, a Health Science senior hailing from California, who also voted as an absentee, agreed, commenting that even though her vote would carry as much weight in Massachusetts as in her strongly Democratic home state, she wanted to vote on pressing local issues back home.

Ms. Kramer, a first-time voter in a Presidential Election, says that, “Local issues did play a part, especially on things like education propositions. I think I just know more about the California local issues because I can talk about them with my parents,” she says.

For many BU students, however, the decision to register and vote in Massachusetts was an easy one.

One female CAS Biology student, who asked to remain nameless, says that she wasn’t registered in her home state of New York, and wasn’t even sure of how to register, until a friend offered to register her through an internship assignment she was given. “She told me it was much easier to do it here [in Massachusetts] since I was a first time voter, so that’s why [I registered in-state].”

Andonica Camp, a BU freshman studying Graphic Design and Computer Science, came to a similar decision. “I was a little worried about absentee ballots and it was my first time voting, so it seemed like it would be a lot simpler to come here,” she says, as she gestures towards 11 Cummington Street, where many of the university’s students are registered to vote. “And since it is where I’m going to live [for the next four years] I think the laws will probably affect me more.”

Leah Roh, a senior at the College of Communications, who plans to live and work in Boston post-graduation says that, “I chose to register here because, not for any election-type reasons, but because I know that I’m not going to be home for a very, very long time.”

Both the Supreme Court and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have ruled that students have the right to establish their voting residency at the place they consider “home,” whether that is the last place they lived before arriving at college or their new place of residence at a university.

For many students though, the excitement of being at the polls is enough of a reason to claim Massachusetts registration. Ms. Camp, all smiles after her first time at the booths, says, “Now I get the excitement of Election Day, going in and filling out the ballot [as opposed to absentee]…I was kind of nervous, but I did it!”


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