By Madison Weber ’23, Staff Writer
What happens when an absentee ballot is requested, but no one is there to fill it out? St. John Fisher’s Education student Makenna King ‘24, was influenced by the 100 year anniversary of the 19th Amendment from going to the polls with her parents every four years. Since it was her first time voting and living over three hours away, King felt most comfortable applying for an absentee ballot.
Absentee ballots allow individuals to vote via the mail, rather than attending an in-person polling booth in their home county. For this election season, voters in New York State were allowed to vote absentee due to the COVID-19 pandemic if they chose. This led to an overwhelmingly large amount of absentee ballots. King applied for her absentee ballot prior to the election and was waiting for it to arrive in the mail, when Fisher announced that students would be completing the semester online and should plan on moving out by the next day at 9 p.m. Fisher told students that the mailroom would be forwarding all current and future mail and packages to their home addresses.
The days leading up to the election made King nervous that she wouldn’t be able to vote at all. “You just want to turn it in and have it done and over with”; King felt like the entire situation was out of her control as there was nothing she could do to speed up the mail.
Both the distance and the precautionary quarantine that students were placed in prevented King from coming to Fisher and collecting her mail. King knew that she had mail in the mailroom when she was sent home but was unsure if it was her ballot. By the time her ballot made it to Fisher and then to her own house, it was the day of the election. Fortunately she was able to hand the ballot in the morning of the election.
Voters are able to attend the polls even if they request an absentee ballot according to the NYS Board of Elections. However, King and potentially other young, first-time voters have never experienced situations like this. Especially with this voting-season facing the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19.