UCLA Students Have Ballot Options

This story was written by Lalitha Madduri, Daily Bruin
With the California primary elections less than a month away, absentee ballots provide students with a quick and easy way to vote, but some recommend that students take the time to visit the polls in person.

Absentee ballots are mailed to voters and can be requested between 29 and seven days prior to elections. To be counted, they must reach election officials by the day of the election.

Voting absentee is a valuable and simple alternative to voting in person on election day, said Jennifer Knox, organizing director of the University of California Students Association.

"Students who wish to vote absentee must submit a letter with their name and residence address, the address to which the vote-by-mail ballot should be sent, and the name and date of the election in which the voter would like to vote by mail," she said.

Knox said she believes absentee voting is a good option for people who think they will be too busy to go to the polls, but it also has disadvantages.

"Deadlines for absentee voting are less publicized and students have to take more initiative to ensure that their vote is counted," she said.

In addition, if the ballot is late or there are any mistakes, it will automatically not be counted, Knox said.

"For example, in the primary coming up, you can't vote cross-party, and if you do, your vote will not be counted. Whereas at the polls, if you make a mistake, they will inform you of your error and give you a new ballot," she said.

Some students feel that voting absentee is a better option because they are not aware of local issues or candidates and it allows them to stay connected to their hometowns.

"When I first moved to UCLA, I was not well informed about local issues or candidates, and it just made more sense to vote absentee in my home district," said Janelle Jacobs, a second-year physiological sciences student.

Undergraduate Students Association Council External Vice President Justin Hotter strongly advised against students voting absentee in their home districts because it hides the fact that students are voting at all.

"We strongly encourage students to reregister in Los Angeles, because when politicians see that students are voting, they are more likely to cater to students' agendas and respond to students' needs," Hotter said. "When students vote locally, this holds politicians more accountable for their actions."

Sarah Dobjensky, chairwoman of CALPIRG at UCLA, a nonprofit student interest research group, also recommends that students take the time to go to the polls on election day.

"Registering in Los Angeles and voting live is more convenient with so many polling sites on the Hill, and there are no worries about deadlines," she said. "It also means that students can vote in local elections."

Dobjensky said she believes that there is no need for students to worry that their absentee vote will not be counted as long as it is submitted properly, but voting live is the best option.

"Any way students are voting is great, but we encourage students to vote here in L.A.," Dobjensky added.
© 2008 Daily Bruin via U-WIRE