Voter absentee jamboree informs students on how to vote absentee


October 5, 2018

The Brandeis library’s Public Services hosted their annual “Voter Absentee Jamboree” at the front desk of Goldfarb Library, where five rotating staff members distributed state specific forms and assisted students in the process of becoming absentee voters in their home states, on Thursday, Sept. 4.

This event is aimed at clarifying and aiding absentee voter registration for students who are not native to Waltham, according to one of the staff members at the Jamboree. Students could also take free stamps or a mailing envelope, and if necessary, receive assistance with the mailing process.

Sarah Hartman, the public service coordinator at the Brandeis library, said that the process can be confusing and difficult, and that the department hopes to simplify states’ varying registration procedures. “It’s interesting to look at which states clearly don’t want college students to vote,” said Hartman. “Some states will send you prepaid envelopes, and some require more than just a first class envelope, making it difficult to mail in.”

States can vary in nearly every aspect of the registration and absentee voting process. The early and absentee voting window ranges from four to 45 days, averaging out at 19. Twenty-seven allow “no-excuse” absentee voting, meaning there is no need for voters to state their reasons for voting absentee. Twenty states require an excuse, and the remaining three automatically mail ballots in advance of election day. Five allow voters to submit ballots completely online and eight allow voters to receive an opt-in permanent absentee ballot.

The “Voter Absentee Jamboree” staff provided individualized printouts with state by state information, including the registration process, dates for casting ballots and a section for “special stuff” in that state. Hartman also said that receiving an absentee ballot after applying for one is not always guaranteed, and encouraged students to be proactive in contacting their state, should they not receive their ballot on time.

The desk provided cookies and buttons for students to take, providing a welcoming setting for students who may have been otherwise been overwhelmed by the necessary steps, especially as first-time voters. One of the buttons available to take read “I voted via Snail Mail,” which a student is invited to wear once they have successfully submitted their ballots.

Aimee Slater, government information & social sciences librarian, coordinated the event, and she and the rest of the department can be found at the Information and Borrowing desk in the lobby of Goldfarb Library.

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