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More Than One Way To Cast A Ballot At West Virginia U.

This story was written by Kelsey Swaim, The Daily Athenaeum

As election day draws near, the candidates push to gain votes is increasing.The West Virginia University College Republicans and Young Democrats have been present on campus trying to encourage voting among college students.Oct. 14 was the final day to register to vote in West Virginia. Leading up to this deadline, the Young Democrats sponsored a booth in the Mountainlair to help students register to vote in Monongalia County.Also, beginning last week, the Student Government Association sponsored a bus to provide students access to early voting polls.Yet for the students not registered to vote in Monongalia County, voting could be a problem.According to the West Virginia Secretary of State Betty Ireland, students attending school outside of their registered county have two options for voting.First, students can become a permanent resident of Morgantown and register to vote in Monongalia County.If thats not an option, students can maintain residency at home and register for an absentee ballot through the County Clerks Office.Traditionally, studies have shown college-age students have the lowest voter turnout rate of any age group. Voting absentee is an avenue students can utilize because a vote can still be cast if they cannot visit a polling location on Election Day.Yet for many students, early voting, or even not voting, is the preferred choice to filling out an absentee ballot.Ive heard from several of my friends that the absentee ballot is a hassle to fill out, said Lauren Kelly, a sophomore fashion design and merchandising major. In fact, Im going home the weekend before election day to vote early rather than worry with absentee voting.Kellys sentiment toward absentee voting echoes many other students opinions on campus.Im not going to vote absentee for this election. I dont want to mess with the hassle, and Ive found through past experience its more of a pain than its worth, said April Scott, a senior public relations major.Ireland reports an 85 percent voter registration rate for people ages 18 to 24 years old in the state.Yet, reports also show an average 8 percent voter turnout for the same age group.This method can be effective for getting the voice of students heard.It is unfortunate students do not take more advantage of absentee voting because a lot of peoples views arent being heard, Scott said.The difficulty people can associate with absentee voting has affected the number of students who vote.Students sometimes opt not to vote, which can have an impact on the overall election results.If I didnt live in West Virginia, I probably wouldnt vote because I wouldnt have the option of going home and voting early, said Derek Stemple, a sophomore secondary education major.Absentee voting appears to be a logical solution, yet many students do not know how to acquire their ballot.I had to do my own research to find out how to apply for an absentee ballot, said Kasey Hott, a senior broadcast news major. Ive found, though, that most people do not even know absentee voting is an option, and for those that do, they find out after the deadline.

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