Mail in vs. in person voting: What are students doing?

Students cast their votes in different ways. 

The act of voting is one way young adults can be active in politics. But for students at Waynesburg University, it may be more difficult to do when attending school far from home. 

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, voting by mail is more common in this election cycle, and has been made more available for citizens. For some students, however, this form of voting is a necessity due to not being able to go home and vote on Nov. 3. 

Holly Ludvigsen, senior senator in Waynesburg University’s student senate, is from Nebraska and had to submit her ballot early by mail. She believes voting is crucial for college students, because they’re at the age where the next two- or four-year term will impact them directly. 

“Voting is incredibly important, politicians elected this cycle will be determining the laws that apply to us as we enter the job force, as we try to pay back college debt and as we start trying to purchase real estate,” Ludvigsen said. “Whether people like it or not, politics impacts all of our lives, and we should get to choose who makes the laws for our generation.”

Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be counted, but there is also a request process that closed on Oct. 27. Some places are offering early voting, however, and people can check their local polling places for more information on it. 

Luke Diel, President of the Student Senate, will be traveling home to vote in-person on Election Day, but believes voting is only valuable if the person is informed.

“I believe being an informed voter at any age is crucial to making the right decisions in government,” Diel said. “Our young adults should seek out information in government and find interest in making decisions to better our nation’s government.”

Senior Scott Rykala has been forced to vote by mail for a few years since arriving at Waynesburg, because his Johnstown, Pennsylvania home is too far to travel to on Nov. 3.

“There could be inherent issues with voting like that, but I feel confident that the absentee ballot system is a safe and secure means of voting,” Rykala said.

Regardless of living near or far, students like Ludvigsen and Diel view the youth’s involvement in local politics as important as the national races.

“I place an equal emphasis on local, state and federal voting,” Ludvigsen said. “I had to do more research on my own about local races since they aren’t as politicized, but the issues are just as important.” 

Ludvigsen closed by expressing the importance of voting.

“I want to encourage everyone to vote,” Ludvigsen said. “I vote from here in my Nebraska elections because it matters.”

Aaron Sielski, senior criminal justice major, is a resident of Waynesburg, and plans to vote in-person at his Greene County polling place on Election Day. Yet, he’s pleased his peers have opted for the mail-in ballot and still participate.

“Students or anyone having the opportunity to vote by mail is a good thing, especially in this year of COVID,” Sielski said. “It still gives people input, but in a safe manner.” 

Students and youth voters have debated and decided whether to cast their ballot in-person or by mail this election season, but with Election Day on Tuesday, most students are rooting for their peers to make an impact and make their voice heard.