College students face many obstacles when trying to cast their ballot, as UR graduate Miriam Grill-Abramowitz found in her Political Science honors project. “Young people in America are less likely to vote than their older counterparts,” Grill-Abramowitz said. Students, especially, face a number of unique challenges at the polls and during the registration process. Those among them who vote in their college towns often don’t carry their state driver’s licenses with them. Since a driver’s license is the most common form of ID used at the polls, those students may have problems. “[Poll workers] may not know what forms of identification they can accept from [students],” Grill-Abramowitz said. Students who choose to vote in their local districts via absentee ballots also face a number of difficulties. According to Grill-Abramowitz, voting by absentee ballots requires planning in advance and there is a limited amount of information about the absentee ballot application process. Also, Grill-Abramowitz’s research has shown that, regardless of whether students vote in their college town or their local district, “State Board of Elections Web sites [contain] a limited amount of information about voter registration procedures.”One final problem highlighted by Grill-Abramowitz is the lack of information available to student voters about their local candidates. She explains that those who are voting by absentee ballot are often isolated from local sources of information and are therefore not as knowledgeable about the political situation in their hometown as they would have been had they lived at home. Sophomore Jason Olver chose to vote in his home state of New Jersey. He said that he had no problems obtaining an absentee ballot and that he got his ballot fairly early. Olver felt that his voting experience in general went well. “For a first time voting [in a presidential election] it has definitely been a good experience,” Olver said. Sophomore Leslie Richardson had a similar experience with regard to receiving her absentee ballot, but said that her local election officials from the state of Connecticut failed to provide her with the necessary information about a number of referenda that appeared on her ballot. However, she believes that she would have been in a similar situation had she been voting at home.”I read the paper every day,” Richardson said. “[Local election officials] really need to make a better effort distributing information.” Junior Diane Johnson believes that the local election officials could do a better job in informing the public about the issues. Nevertheless, she didn’t seem to have any problems. “[I had] no trouble registering,” Johnson said. “[I believe my voting district] has knowledgeable election officials.” Aleksey Tentler, a first-year student at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, didn’t have any problems voting. “They just asked for my name, I signed in and then I voted,” Tentler said. However, Tentler recalls that he was still unfamiliar with some candidates and a number of referenda that appeared on his ballot.Gurevich can be reached at agurevich@campustimes.org.



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