Absentee voting much easier this year

Ballots are now available through the university’s Campus Mail Services


Photo by Grace Mamon, ’22.

Grace Mamon

Students and staff expressed their concerns this year about the complicated process of voting while on campus and reached out to Mail Services for help.

With Election Day looming, W&L students who were on campus for the 2016 election voiced their dread of another year of dealing with absentee ballots.

Fortunately for the W&L student body, the process just got a whole lot easier.

For the first time in campus history, absentee ballots will be accepted through the campus’s mail service.

Previously, absentee ballots had to be sent and received through the Lexington Post Office. This made voting extremely inconvenient for students without a P.O. box, who had to take time out of their busy schedules to figure out how to get a ballot.

“My roommate had a P.O. box,” said Skyler Zunk, ‘19. “I had to get my ballot mailed there.”

Emily Bair, ‘19, found that the easiest way was to have her parents send her ballot to her.

Mara Efimov, ‘20, even bought a P.O. box specifically to receive her absentee ballot. She explained that she liked to be able to vote, although buying a box was inconvenient.

Some students, like Frances Conner, ‘20, did not vote at all.

“I had just turned 18, so it would’ve been my first time voting,” she said. “I just don’t think I understood how it worked.”

Overall, there was a lot of confusion, and many students were left wondering if they had gone about the process correctly.

Washington and Lee’s College Democrats noticed this problem and began to advocate for an easier process. This year, after coordination with Student Activities and Mail Services, their efforts have paid off.

Now, instead of purchasing a P.O. box, students simply need to register for an absentee ballot online and enter their campus mail address.

Campus Mail Services only receives packages for students on campus, but University Mail Room Supervisor Chris Adkins has made accommodations for absentee ballots.

“When an absentee ballot makes it here it is entered into our tracking system like a package,” Adkins said. “An email is sent to the student when the absentee ballot arrives just like a package notification.”

At that point, students simply have to pick up their ballot from Mail Services, fill it out and follow the instructions to mail it back.

“I just really hope that more students are able to get their absentee ballots,” said Morgan Maloney, ‘19, president of College Democrats. “It’s a complicated process, and.hopefully this will just make it a little bit easier.”

Similarly, the College Republicans are equally pleased with this new development.

“College Republicans think it’s great that the University is helping students vote,” said Wes Shannon, ‘20, the organization’s president. “I know both College Republicans and College Democrats are interested in getting students registered and enthusiastic to vote, and any help from the University is much appreciated.”

This new process is a step toward efficiency and ease for student-voters and has the potential to increase voter turnout, as W&L students take advantage of the opportunity to have a say in this upcoming election.