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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Some students never received ballots

Sophomore Deirdre Demers traveled three and a half hours to her hometown of Reading, Pa., to vote Tuesday after she had not received her absentee ballot.

“I really knew I wanted to vote in this election,” she said.

Demers is one of several students who went home to vote or paid to send their ballots by express mail. Many students were not able to cast their ballots after failing to receive their absentee forms on time.

“I’ve heard of almost all those situations,” said Sean White, director of GW Votes, a student voter registration drive. “I think every single person who wasn’t able to vote is certainly a problem.”

In response to student complaints about absentee ballots, GW Votes worked with the Class Council to send a mass e-mail to undergraduate students asking them to respond if they were having problems voting. White said they received about 50 to 60 e-mails.

“I thought the problem would be more widespread than it was,” White said.

White attributed voting problems to several issues, such as complications with county offices. He added that “mail tends to be a problem at GW,” but said he has no reason to believe that mail services did not efficiently distribute ballots. In an interview with The Hatchet last week, GW Mail Services officials said they sent out absentee ballots as soon as possible.

White responded to student complaints by advising them to contact their county clerks and mail services.

“Unfortunately, once the request form is out, it’s out of our hands,” White said. “Ultimately it comes down to the students and the state.”

Between 95 and 98 percent of students were registered to vote in Tuesday’s election, according to GW Votes, which helped obtain absentee ballots for 700 students.

Demers said she decided to take the bus home last Thursday, when she realized she was not going to get her ballot in time to send it back to her county office. Demers said she does not know why she did not receive her absentee ballot sooner, but said the misspelling of her name on her registration information may have stalled the process.

Sophomore Eliza Rudavsky, of Pennsylvania, had to vote in D.C. by provisional ballot, which can be later counted if voter registration information is verified.

Rudvasky contacted Election Protection, a national coalition that documents and attempts to solve voting problems, and is now considering being a part of a multi-party lawsuit against her Pennsylvania precinct for its failure to send her an absentee ballot. The organization has reported that they received more than 15,000 complaints as of Wednesday afternoon about ballot problems, polling place issues, registration issues and voter intimidation.

“I’m a pretty big Kerry supporter and Pennsylvania is a huge swing state so I felt like it was very important that I voted,” Rudavsky said. Kerry won Pennsylvania, receiving 51 percent of the ballots cast in the state.

Some students complained about sending their ballots by express mail at higher costs – sometimes as high as $26 – because their ballots had arrived only a few days before the election.

Postal service offices across the country had taken special care of absentee ballots and employees were instructed to send absentee ballots even if the envelope did not have a stamp on it, said a United States Postal Service worker in D.C., who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Sophomore Rebecca Finger received her absentee ballot from her Colorado hometown two days before the election.

She said, “I had to pay $14 in order to vote in time because I had to overnight (the ballot) … And this was after I directly requested my ballot a second time from the Denver election committee.”

Finger said she knows of other students who have experienced similar problems receiving their absentee ballots.

She added, “A lot of my friends never received it even though the election committee said they received their request and sent it out.”

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