Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Students remain without absentee ballots

With the presidential election only days away, some students are still waiting for their absentee ballots.

A number of problems – mail mix-ups, complications with local government offices and failure to complete forms on time – have prevented some students from voting.

“I don’t know entirely what to make of it,” said Sean White, director of the GW Votes, a student voting registration drive. The group has reported that 95 percent of the over-18 student population is registered to vote. The group based its findings on straw polls conducted during a three-week period.

“We’ve heard similar complaints and we have done everything on our end to try and figure out what is going on,” White said. “If you haven’t received it, call your county clerks’ office, and if you have received it, send it out immediately … People sending it back regular and first-class mail may not get them back on time.”

Regulations regarding absentee voting are determined by state. Most states require absentee voters to fill out an absentee request, which can often be downloaded online, and send it to their local clerk’s office in order to receive a ballot. Most states require absentee voters to send in their ballots by the time polls close on Tuesday night.

Junior Jon Ostrower has not received his ballot and blames an inefficient GW Mail Services, which has been criticized by students in the past for a lack of timeliness. He said he called his county clerk’s office to verify that his ballot was sent out and has been checking his mailbox three times a day. He applied for his absentee ballot at the end of August and verified that the clerks’ office sent him his ballot.

Ostrower said he spoke with Mail Services representatives Oct. 21 and found that there were “boxes and boxes of absentee ballots sorted by halls waiting to go out.”

“We are getting down to the wire here and when it takes two weeks to get something through it is troubling,” Ostrower said.

Gary Reynolds, program coordinator for Institutional Auxiliary Services, which oversees mail services, denied there was a ballots backlog in the mailroom. Most absentee ballots were separated into a different bin because they were missing room numbers and mail employees wanted to send the ballots out as quickly as possible. Reynolds said there was no delay in sending them out.

“There was a special bin filled with absentee ballots separated from the regular mail so they could assign the proper room number,” Reynolds said. “There are no more bins left. Everything that came in bulk has been sent off.”

Mail Services normally sends out mail 24 hours after they receive it, he said. Reynolds added that about 20 percent of all mail is incorrectly addressed and mailroom employees have to research the correct address and re-direct the mail.

“It does not take more than 48 hours to get the mail out once it arrives,” Reynolds said.

About 32,000 pieces of mail arrive weekly for students living in residence halls, Reynolds said.

“I think it might be a little bit of an overstatement to place the blame on GW Services,” White, of GW votes, said.

Mary Bergstom, a freshman from Pennsylvania, said she has still not received her ballot. Last month she registered to vote and applied for her absentee ballot with GW Votes.

“I’m going to be mad if I can’t vote because I didn’t get my absentee ballot,” Bergstrom said.

Rob Koroshetz, who lives off campus in the Monroe House apartment complex, has also not received his ballot. Off-campus apartments receive their mail through a city service.

“Mail here is so slow,” said Koroshetz. “I have gotten birthday cards from September 10th in the mail yesterday.”

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