Not because I didn't want to. Actually, I wanted to more than ever before - because this was my first presidential election where I was eligible to vote. The 2012 election that gave Obama a second term was sadly not my first ballot, because I was only 17.
I started preparing for this election while I was studying abroad in Spring 2016. I was sitting in my bed in Copenhagen when I realized the primaries were soon and I wanted to find out how to cast my vote overseas. As it turns out, I never declared a party when I got my driver's license, so I wasn't able to vote in the primaries. During this process, I realized that I would also not be home for the presidential election - In the same state, yes, but in New York City at school.
Realizing this, I researched the process for obtaining an absentee ballot, and kept it in the back of my mind for when I returned to the states. In August, I submitted the FPCA, the Federal Post Card Application, which is a request for the absentee ballot. I also requested that my ballot be mailed to my school dorm address. I kept checking my mailbox through September and October - nothing. I probably should have taken action sooner than November 7th, the day before elections, but I had some sort of faith in the United States Postal Service and couldn't imagine that my ballot would go to anyone but me.
I actually tried to call my County Board of Elections in Schoharie, NY on Friday, but the office was already closed. I crossed my fingers and impatiently waited to call on Monday morning. When I called, I explained that I did not receive my ballot. The clerk checked the records, and indeed it was mailed on October 14. You know what the woman said? She said that "this happens to a lot of college students." Wow. Great. This woman is from my small rural town in upstate New York - on that scale, how many is 'a lot' of college students? How many students is that across the country? She suggested I use my "most polite attitude" and ask my local post office for my zip code if there's an unsent letter sitting around. HA. My local post office happens to be the James A. Farley one - yea, that big one next to Penn station. I'm stuck at work today anyhow.
The woman at County Board of Elections was entertaining the idea that my ballot may have been sent to Kaufman Street, instead of 'Kaufman Hall'. Well, I just don't see how that's possible. I put my dorm information in the address line where you usually put apartment #'s, THEN I put my street address, and then state, zip etc. I don't need to explain, everyone knows how to address mail. Sorry, but if the post office could read the state and zip, they would realize there's no Kaufman St. in New York City. Was it really sent? Interestingly enough, I've never had missing mail before!
I'm ranting because MY ballot is out there somewhere - and there's nothing I can do to get it. Is it possible for someone else to use my ballot while it's floating around in the vortex of 'I swear it was sent - but never received' mail?There's also nothing I can do about the fact that I can't vote tomorrow. Which is why at the very least I'm taking action with this post. A last minute 4 hour trip home when my schedule is surrounded by class and work is not an option. According to an article in the New York Times published on October 31, over 22 million Americans have voted early already - those numbers include absentee ballots. If this is happening to a lot of college students - or a lot of people in general - I find that inexcusable, and while everyone's caught up wondering if the outcomes will be honest - this 'absent' absentee ballot is an issue in and of itself.