Guest Blog from MITvote: A Reflection on Absentee Voting
by Eva Anderson
MITvote is a nonpartisan student group on campus that works to make voting more accessible and to encourage civic engagement on our STEM-oriented campus. Founded on the idea that voting is not only a right, but also an incredibly powerful tool for individuals of every walk of life, MITvote works to keep students informed, engaged, and registered to vote, regardless of where their ballots are cast or who they choose to vote for.
Operating on a college campus, we commonly get asked, “Should I vote at home or in Massachusetts?” We respond to this question by recommending that students pick the location where they are most likely to vote. By changing your voter registration to Massachusetts, the barriers to voting are lower. You can show up to your polling place on Election Day, not too far from your place of residence, and cast your ballot. If you choose to vote in your home state, however, the process has several more steps. You typically must request an absentee ballot, receive that ballot in the mail, and send it back, typically in advance of election day (some states have a more streamlined process or later deadlines). But in spite of these barriers, some people feel very connected to their home state, and voting in an election in the place they grew up in is an additional motivator for them to vote.
My name is Eva Anderson. I am a junior in Course 2 and an active member of the MITVote executive board. While residing in Massachusetts throughout the school year, I vote in my home state of Minnesota for several reasons. Firstly, I am proud of my state’s commitment to the outdoors – we have ice skating rinks in most parks in the winter, we are one of the best states for bike lanes, and there are lakes everywhere, even in the middle of a major city like Minneapolis. Minnesota is also known to have great public schools, and I want to continue supporting the schools that supported me. When I was in high school, I worked on a state senator’s campaign and realized the impact local politics have on people’s lives. From access to public transportation, to K-12 funding, to maintaining community parks, local officials have tangible impacts on their constituents’ well-being. For these reasons, and many more, I want my voice to be heard in the place that shaped me into who I am today.
It’s crucial that elected officials listen to students, but they won’t listen if students don’t turn out to vote. I challenge you to think about how your life has been impacted by local, state, or federal government decisions. If you don’t feel particularly motivated by the importance of civic duty, try thinking of the community that has had the greatest impact on you and those around you. Where do you want your voice to be heard? Whether it’s back home or in Massachusetts, we at MITvote believe that the most important thing is that your voice is heard.
To learn more about absentee ballots in your home state, visit: https://www.vote.org/absentee-ballot/