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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Officials clear up voting issues

    As the general election nears with an already record number of early votes, some students not yet registered in Pima County will get their vote in early, while others will get lost in a complicated process.

    With countless national figures deeming this presidential election between Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois an integral part of our modern history, records set at the voting booth have already backed up such claims, said Chris Roads, registrar of voters for Pima County.

    “”For the primary, we had more people voting mainly with early ballots (than before),”” he said. “”We had a dramatic increase, the most we’ve ever had since 2004 where we had 42,000, and now we’re at about 78,000.””

    Although the numbers seem to indicate a heightened sense of voter responsibility, some students may be shunning the voting process because of the effort it takes to register or obtain absentee ballots, said Carmen Austin, an astronomy freshman.

    “”It probably helps when people talk to them about it, and that would make it easier for them to (register),”” Austin said.

    Jon Barcellano, a biology senior who works as a residence hall advisor, said he often finds students are lazy and won’t go through the trouble of an extensive voting process.

    “”If they were asked to give their birth certificate or their proof of citizenship, I don’t think they’d even bother to register to vote,”” he said.

    But many students from out of state run into other complications besides laziness when they vote for the first time in a new city.

    “”I think a lot of times with rules and certain deadlines, students sometimes get confused when they have to follow different deadlines when ballots are due, and it can be hard when you’re from out of state,”” said Kara Subach, a political science senior. “”Some might even forget, and they’ll say, ‘Oh, I didn’t even get a chance to vote.'””

    Roads said there are often complications, and many ballots are sent in late, which results in a vote not being counted.

    “”Some people also forget that the ballots have to be sealed in an envelope, and many send it in with the affidavit not signed,”” he said.

    Caitlin Badger, a microbiology senior, said she is waiting for her parents to handle the specifics and mail her a ballot, and then she plans to do the rest.

    “”There’s a lot of firsts in this election, so I think it will be important to vote,”” she said.

    Badger said she believes most students can follow directions and will usually get their ballots in before the deadline.

    “”Students, I think, are pretty competent when it comes to that,”” Badger said. “”I think the only people who will really have problems are low-income minorities and maybe new citizens – and those votes actually count.””

    Ari Fink, a recent graduate from Michigan State University, said this is a reason that she came to Arizona, to coordinate canvasses and make sure people know the correct way to vote.

    “”I think Arizona has some of the strictest laws in the country, which definitely make it more difficult for people to vote,”” said Fink, a member of MoveOn.org. “”It should be easier to vote here, and I think it’s discouraging for young people to vote.””

    Since Proposition 200 was passed in 2004, individuals have been required to provide proof of citizenship, and having the extra identification is something that makes it harder for some people to vote, Fink said.

    But Roads said the spike in voting this year can be attributed to early voting – which has increased 10 percent each year since 2006 – and there may be benefits to early voting that will curb the problems students and new residents face.

    “”You have however much time you want, and you can vote in private and it costs nothing,”” he said. “”Also for those with a particularly more mobile lifestyle, when you vote in person, your name and ID must match, and if it doesn’t, then they don’t count the ballot.””

    Roads said students from out of state with licenses in other states, though they may be registered here, could run into this problem. Early ballots, which are sent to one address only and do not require this type of constant verification, guarantee a person’s ballot will count when voting.

    Roads said if people feel this method works for them, he would recommend it as a way to ensure they don’t get lost in deadlines and directions, and if they happen to do something wrong, they still have time to be contacted in order to correct any errors.

    “”We recommend mailing in ballots no later than the Friday before the election,”” he said. “”If it’s out of state, maybe a week earlier than that.””

    More information about requesting early ballots or absentee ballots can be found at www.recorder.pima.gov.

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