Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

Neglect of absentee ballots demands attention

The following reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.

Everyday tasks are harder on a college campus. Students have to traverse the cold, unforgiving hallways of dorms to shower in communal bathrooms, trek across campus to eat at dining halls and hope their mail is in their dorm mailbox when they remember to check.

Campus life is full of micro-obstacles, and voting is no exception. Except, this year, voting -- specifically absentee voting -- transcended the "micro" prefix and become a macro campus issue.

The Miami Student reported that multiple students living in residence halls did not receive their absentee ballots until Election Day. Depending on where those ballots are from, many need to be received by Election Day to be counted.

So, some of these students are simply out of luck and out of a voice -- and that's simply unacceptable.

This never should have happened. The Miami mail system should be prioritized. Instead of a heap of mail sitting around, waiting to be put in mailboxes by RAs that may or may not remember to do so each evening they're on duty, things of importance should be distributed as soon as possible, and that includes ballots.

In the age of technology, most people are no longer getting unimportant mail. Prescriptions, ballots, bills and checks shouldn't be left in a back room, waiting to be sorted.

There's a reason why New York Democratic Sen. Kristen Gillibrand proposed a postal banking system that would provide low interest loans distributed from local post offices. The most isolated of towns may not have a bank, but they do have a post office -- mail delivery is basically a federally guaranteed right.

Absentee voting in general is not emphasized by the university. Between Party at the Polls, the Get Out the Vote campaigns and election day emails, Miami pushed for voter turnout here in Oxford. But with 60 percent of Miami first-years from out of state, just advocating for voting in-person isn't enough.

State-specific rules, mailing deadlines, voter registration and updating information are all aspects that remain hazy to most students wishing to exercise their right to vote.

In the state of Kentucky, a voter needs to prove they will be out of the area on Election Day in order to be eligible to receive an absentee ballot. In Ohio, the ballots need to be turned in and received by the Board of Elections by Election Day in order to count.

The process for requesting an absentee ballot varies from state to state. In Virginia, the entire process, including explaining why a person has chosen to vote absentee, is online. In Ohio, voters can either fill out a paper form that includes name and address and send it to their local bureau, or can file the request for an absentee ballot online.

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If students wanted to change their address to vote in Butler County, they can. But many students are unaware this is even an option, and that information is not emphasized as much by the university as it should be.

For many students on campus, this year's midterms were one of the first elections they could vote in. While some high school civics classes help students through the process, many other potential young voters fall through the cracks. Miami has no equivalent to catch the students who were missed.

Miami should take it upon themselves to encourage every student that sets foot on this campus to vote.

UNV 101 is required for all first-years. It teaches them essential information about alcohol and sexual assault and class registration. It only makes sense to spend a class period explaining the basics of voting and then helping students to register right then and there.

Voting should be a top priority, not buried under a pile of junk mail.