My first time voting was nothing like what I had envisioned. My absentee ballot required me to obtain a witness’ signature to ensure I had not done anything illegal. What does the government really think I’m going to do to my ballot?
And the biggest kicker is that I didn’t receive the coveted “I Voted” sticker with my absentee package in the mail.
As a first-time voter, like many other freshmen, the process seemed a bit ridiculous. I was excited to fill in the bubbles on the ballot, but all the steps leading up to those simple steps seemed like an eternity.
The relief came when I read instructions that said the return envelope was prepaid, so there was no need for a stamp. Or was there? On the return envelope there was a “place stamp here” spot on the upper right corner.
I took the return letter to the mail room at Newman Hall and the package pick-up area at Owens Hall, where no one seemed to know the protocol on having to use a stamp or not. If I had to use a stamp, it would come out of my own money.
The necessity of a stamp to pay for the return envelope was never stated in the absentee registration. And why should I have to pay for the stamp when the government knows it’s my civic duty to vote?
I sent in my absentee ballot without a stamp, so hopefully my first vote counted.
Adding to the overall struggle, the question of absentee ballots’ legitimacy is questioned in the United States Constitution. According to Article 2, Section 1.
This clause means that all people must vote on the same day throughout the United States. However, I voted about a month before the general election.
So did I violate the Constitution? The loophole that allows absentee votes to actually be used is that the ballots are not opened until the day of the general election, which falls on Tuesday, Nov. 6 this year.
Another absentee voting hassle is that Virginia absentee ballots are easily accessibly for in-state students here at Virginia Tech, but not for out-of-state students.
According to the guidelines for voting in the general election at Virginia Tech, “non-Virginians should check with their county registrars in their home states for absentee ballot information.”
So, if you are one of the many out-of-state students attending Virginia Tech and forgot to register to vote absentee before you came to Tech, then you’re out of luck.
Voting should not be this complicated, especially since it is an American citizen’s civic duty. Voting allows people to speak their minds and every vote counts in presidential elections.
And above all, this time when I vote, I want the “I Voted” sticker at least mailed to me if I have to jump through a hundred hoops to send in my vote.