With just a day until Election Day, many students have already submitted mail-in ballots and completed the voting process. Now, all that remains is to wait for their votes to be counted and the outcome to be announced.
Pennsylvania, which narrowly voted for President Donald Trump in 2016, is a crucial swing state that could play a large role in deciding the election this year, too.
Noor Baban, ‘23, a Pennsylvania resident, said she was easily able to vote by filling out an application for a mail-in ballot. Baban said she received her ballot on time and had no difficulties with the system.
“I mailed in my ballot two weeks ago, because I didn’t want to risk not being able to vote depending on if I was at school or at home,” Baban said.
For those who experienced ballot delays, the Supreme Court recently ruled that Pennsylvania could count mail-in ballots received up to three days after Nov. 3, citing postal service delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Baban said this decision instills her confidence in the voting system, which she believes has responded appropriately given the significance of the election.
“I would hope that since a lot more people are voting by mail, the system would accordingly be monitored more carefully,” Baban said.
Although students such as Baban have opted to vote by mail, there are a number of polling locations on the South Side that are accessible for Lehigh students and Bethlehlem residents alike who are choosing to vote in person on Nov. 3.
Other Lehigh students currently living in Bethlehem but who hail from other swing states have had to decide between registering to vote in Pennsylvania or requesting absentee ballots from their home counties instead.
Zach Cotter, ‘23, said he recognized the importance of voting in Pennsylvania but felt more personally tied to the implications that voting blue would have on his home state of North Carolina.
Because he knew more about the officials in his hometown, Cotter said he felt more comfortable voting in North Carolina rather than Bethlehem.
As a political science major, Cotter said he has kept an eye on local politics long before he could vote and could not pass up the opportunity to effect positive change in his hometown.
“Living in a swing county, I saw many politicians get elected that I would have loved to vote against, and I was able to do that this time around,” Cotter said.
After submitting a request for an absentee ballot in North Carolina, Cotter said his voting process was thrown for a loop when he received his mail-in ballot while under quarantine with the university.
“The whole process was kind of difficult because I requested my absentee ballot online, and it came in while I was in quarantine and needed a witness to watch me vote,” he said.
Cotter said he was able to receive help from his co-Gryphon, who served as witness to his absentee vote.
Leading up to the election, Cotter said he worked to inform his friends who are from less critical battleground states of the importance of registering to vote in Pennsylvania, and that they could do so using their campus address.
Moreover, Cotter has actively organized ways to mobilize students, particularly his residents in his residence hall, to get excited about voting at Lehigh.
”I hosted a voting event where we offered them a donut if they registered to vote because it is something that I am extremely passionate about,” Cotter said.
Alex Copits, ‘23, although currently living in the Bethlehem area, similarly opted to vote absentee in her hometown in Ohio.
Copits said her decision to vote in Ohio stemmed from her passion for environmental legislation being passed in her local area of Madison County.
Copits said this decision meant she was prepared for delays, and she requested an absentee ballot as early as possible to safeguard herself against the potential stumbling blocks of voting absentee that other Lehigh students have experienced.
“I registered a few months ago and signed up to get my absentee ballot sent home in Ohio, which my sister then mailed to me in Bethlehem,” Copits said.
Whether voting in Pennsylvania or absentee in another state, many Lehigh students are ready and willing to vote and are equipped with plans to overcome the potential pitfalls of mail-in voting.