Ohio State students abroad face voting obstacles
Published: Monday, November 5, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 00:11
For two Ohio State students, making sure their voice is heard on Election Day was an issue of transcontinental importance.
“I wanted to make sure I could get my voice in there, even if it’s just one vote,” said Anna Irvine, a third-year in international studies and German.
Irvine said via Skype she is studying abroad in Munich, Germany, more than 4,000 miles from Ohio, but still voted by absentee ballot in the 2012 presidential election.
Elaina Gregg, a third-year in history of art and Italian is studying abroad in Siena, Italy, and agreed that it is important to vote in this year’s presidential election. However, Gregg said she never received her absentee ballot in the mail.
“It’s really a huge disappointment,” she said. “I’ve never not voted. This is something that is important to me and it’s something that I can’t control.”
Gregg said via Skype she requested an absentee ballot to be sent to her residence in Siena more than a month before the election, along with seven other students from Ohio in her program.
“Almost everybody did not get their ballot,” she said. “We all put our request in right away. We should have had them.”
Gregg said she and other students sought advice from advisers in their program, Siena Italian Studies, and were told they should continue to wait for their ballots to come in the mail.
“We just kept waiting and figured they would be here,” she said, but the day before Election Day they have still not received their ballots.
There are 449 OSU students studying abroad this semester, said Office of International Affairs spokeswoman Maureen Miller.
Any voter registered in Ohio can vote absentee. However, requests for absentee ballots must have been received by local county board of elections by noon on Nov. 3, postmarked by Monday or returned prior to the close of the polls on Election Day. Ballots must be received no later than 10 days after the election in order to be counted, according to the website of Ohio Secretary of State John Husted.
“Every vote counts,” Irvine said. “So much of what is being discussed and debated right now affects us directly as students.”
While it is difficult to keep up with political issues in the United States while in Germany, Irvine said the Internet and social media have helped keep her connected.
“On Facebook I see status(es) from people and then if it seems interesting I kind of research it and Google it and see what they’re talking about,” she said.
Irvine said she “liked” President Barack Obama and “Americans Against the Tea Party” on Facebook, and those pages give her information about the issues.
In addition to the challenge of staying informed about the election while overseas, Irvine also experienced some trouble getting her absentee ballot by mail.
“The ballot got mailed to my house in Ohio and then my mom had to send it to me,” she said.
Gregg said she wishes she would have had her ballot sent to her parents house and then had them mail it to Siena instead of requesting it directly.
“Who knows, maybe it will come tomorrow,” Gregg said Monday.