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Students vote before Election Day

Maddie Hanna | Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Though millions of Americans will head out to the polls one week from today, many voters, including Notre Dame students, have already made their choices.During fall break, many students had the chance to vote early or pick up and mail in absentee ballots.Sophomore Ashley St. Pierre turned in her absentee ballot during break in her home state of New Hampshire, a process she described as very easy.Explaining her motivation for taking the time to vote at home, St. Pierre said voting is a privilege many people take for granted.”In such a close race, this is a time when each vote is going to have an effect on the outcome of the election,” St. Pierre said.Junior Dan Reynolds said he voted absentee in Cincinnati because he had no other option.”If you’re going to be out of the county on Election Day, you have to do it this way [in Ohio],” Reynolds said.On voting a week before the actual election, Reynolds said he was unconcerned about having to decide early.”I pretty much knew where I stood on things,” Reynolds said. “That wasn’t going to change in the last week.” Early voting means an individual can cast his ballot during a specific period prior to Election Day. Absentee voting involves requesting a ballot in the mail and returning it by mail or by hand.According to data from HelpingAmericansVote.org, 27 states do not restrict early or absentee voting, while 23 states have state-specific requirements.While many states require voters to give a reason for not voting on Election Day, over 40 percent of states do not, according to HelpingAmericansVote.org.In the South Bend area, St. Joseph County has seen an increase in absentee voting, St. Joseph County circuit court clerk Rita Glenn said.”We sent out 13,000 ballots and have processed about 6,700,” Glenn said.However, Glenn said there was not necessarily a trend toward increased absentee voting. “It is an increase [in absentee voting], but the population of the U.S. has increased as well,” she said. “We also had over 8,000 new applicants registering to vote for the first time,”In 2000, Glenn said that the county received 9,251 absentee ballots during the period from the first Monday of October to the Monday before Election Day.Notre Dame Rock the Vote student coordinator Peter Quaranto said Rock the Vote tried to let students know they could vote over fall break.”Now, the only option is to return to your home state and vote early there, or send in an absentee ballot,” he said.