BU and the Primaries

The New Hampshire primary is tomorrow and with other New England primaries to follow, some BU students from the surrounding states are uncertain about how to vote.  

According to the U.S. Census, as of 2017, there were 18.4 million college students in America, or about 5% of the population. According to a study by Tufts University, 48.3% of eligible college students voted in the 2016 election as opposed to 45.3% in 2012.

“I see a lot of booths for [voter information], but I’ve just been so busy I haven’t had time to go and talk to anybody about it,” said freshman Matt Michaud. “There are a lot of resources there. It’s just a matter of people taking advantage of them or not.”

Michaud is from New Hampshire, which has its primary on Tuesday, Feb. 11. He would like to vote “if time allows,” but given his busy schedule sees little time for the process of obtaining an absentee ballot.

“I have acapella and BU on Broadway every night, so between that and classes I barely have time to get lunch,” Michaud said. “People prioritize it, which I probably should.”

For dilemmas like whether or not to vote, there’s the absentee ballot: These are voting ballots that mail in so that you don’t have to make an impromptu trip across the country on a random Tuesday in November. 

Here at BU, booths were set up in the lobbies of West, Warren, Wheelock and other buildings to encourage people to register to vote and learn about absentee ballots. The students interviewed for this piece did not interact with these booths, and some wished for more information from the university. 

Others had the same problem as Michaud, including freshman Seth Delisle from Maine, who feels similarly about the absentee ballots.

“I’d like to vote in the primaries,” Delisle said. “I registered as a Democrat so I could, but from down here it’s such a hassle.”

Students like Delisle feel they need more help to understand the absentee ballot process.

“I know absentee ballots exist but I don’t know how it works,” Deslile said. “I could maybe figure it out but I’m so busy at school. And especially dealing with the whole mailing process given how unreliable BUs mail is, the ballot would probably get lost and I’d be wasting my time anyway.”

As far as blame goes, the students pin their lack of knowledge about absentee ballots on BU. Freshman Noah Lapid from New Jersey thinks that the school could be doing better when explaining how the voting process works for students who are not from Massachusetts.

“BU could definitely be advertising that there’s a big election coming up,” Lapid said. “[They’re] just telling us, ‘this is what you should be doing.’”

Freshman Vanessa Bartlett, from Connecticut, said she knows where to get her absentee ballot, but notices information is lacking coming from BU.

“I think they could have done a better job and I think they could have done it earlier so people have more time to understand the process and register correctly,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett, who canvassed for Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders in Warren Towers, is concerned about what students know about politics and voting. 

“The number of people who are not registered to vote kind of astounded me because the tables had been out there in Warren for awhile,” Bartlett said. “Not many people knew how to register as an absentee and overall most people didn’t have opinions on which candidate they were going to vote for. This worries me.”

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