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$1375
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Your donation will support The Ithacan's student journalists in their effort to keep the Ithaca College and wider Ithaca community informed. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Editorial: Absentee ballots must be accessible to students

Editorial%3A+Absentee+ballots+must+be+accessible+to+students
DJ Berchoff

Mail-in ballots have become a point of contention across the country. Republicans in Mississippi have recently filed a lawsuit against counting absentee ballots that are postmarked before election day but are not received until after election day. New York faced a similar case, with Republicans contesting the New York Early Mail Voter Act that was created to help more people vote. This lawsuit in New York was dismissed, and the New York Early Mail Voter Act was upheld as constitutional. 

These lawsuits aiming to prevent absentee ballots inhibit U.S. citizens from actively engaging in the democratic process. Whether voting in-person or voting through the mail, all peoples’ voices should be heard. Any effort to eliminate absentee ballots is an effort to silence citizens’ voices. 

Policies regarding absentee ballots have a direct effect on Ithaca College students and college students at large. According to information compiled by Civicnation.org, young people are more likely to identify barriers to voting than older individuals. For college students who attend a school outside of their hometown or even outside of their home state, it can be nearly impossible to make it home for election day to cast a ballot. For students who do decide to vote in-person in the county of their college, there are a host of policies that make it difficult to vote, like lack of on-campus polling sites, no transportation to off-campus polling sites and not accepting student IDs as acceptable identification. 

It is imperative that Ithaca College does all it can to encourage students to engage in voting. In 2020, the national student voting rate was 66%, marking a 14% increase from 2016. Students are ready to engage in democracy. It is up to the college to recognize this desire and further encourage active participation in civic engagement. 

To support students submitting absentee ballots, the college should provide more resources and information on how to submit absentee ballots. In the past, there have been Intercom articles posted by the college encouraging students to vote and providing information on how to register for absentee ballots. Continuing to post announcements like these is essential to creating a campus full of actively engaged students. 

For students who decide to vote in Tompkins County, there should be easier access to polling sites. Texas A&M University has both an on-campus polling site and county-funded transportation provided for students to local polling sites. These are exemplary initiatives that the college and the Town of Ithaca should replicate to support students voting in local elections. Students are an essential population that should be involved in important political decisions. Leaders at the national, local and collegiate levels should do everything in their power to support students in shaping their future through voting. 

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