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Voting Away From Home: Absentee Ballots Made Simple 

By Sadie Presto

According to NPR, the 2016 presidential election was decided by only 80,000 votes in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Many Americans are not registered to vote or just don’t vote because they are under the impression that their vote does not matter or make a difference in American politics.

Following President Trump’s election in 2016, The Census confirmed that 53% of registered American voters took action at the 2018 midterm election. This resulted in the highest turnout rate since 1966. Among millennials between ages 18 to 29, their voter turnout rate jumped from 20% in 2014 to 36% in 2018, the largest percentage point increase for any age group.

Dr. Paul Adams, Associate Professor of Political Science at Pitt-Greensburg, explains this recent shift in voter behavior.

“People simply may just not be engaged or understand how much of an impact one vote can do for not only the federal government, but local government as well,” Dr. Adams said. “Local government has more of a day-to-day impact on us than the federal government.”

In Sept., the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Governor Tom Wolf use executive orders to make it possible to apply to receive your absentee ballot online. This makes applying and submitting an absentee ballot easier for citizens residing outside of their district at the time of the election, including college students.

Registering to vote and applying for an absentee ballot takes only two minutes to complete online. Students can visit www.vote.org and follow the simple step-by-step instructions. The respective county election offices of Pennsylvania districts must receive all absentee ballots by Tuesday, Oct. 29 in order for them to be counted towards the Nov. 5 local elections.

Dr. Adams believes that responsibility comes with the power of voting.

“Voting is an investment,” Dr. Adams said. “You need to do research on candidates and issues to make an educated vote so you don’t go in guessing. If you care about your future and any issues, whether it’s the environment, education, economy, women’s rights, gun issues—you should be voting.”

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