The 2020 presidential election is right around the corner, with the first debate between candidates Joe Biden and President Donald Trump having taken place earlier this week. Over the past several months, there has been a great deal of debate over mail-in voting, with the COVID-19 pandemic displacing many voters from their home states or discouraging them from visiting crowded polling locations.
Since so many people will now depend on mail to vote, the question of legitimacy has become a national debate. President Trump’s frequent attacks on mail-in ballots only ramped up during the recent debate, even singling out Drexel’s home city as a hotspot for voter fraud. He claimed that legal “poll watchers” were being blocked from monitoring voting spaces — a claim that has since been debunked by several news sources, including ABC News.
“There’s bad things happening in Philadelphia. Bad things,” Trump said.
Though Trump’s attacks against mail-in voting and Philadelphia are unfounded, the best way to combat confusion is to know exactly when, where and how to cast your ballot. To vote by mail in Pennsylvania, voters must first register to vote in the commonwealth, which can be done at votespa.com. Students may register to vote using an on-campus or off-campus address. However, there are requirements regarding how long students have resided in Pennsylvania that might restrict them from registering in the state.
Out-of-state freshmen and new students who never moved to campus are unable to register to vote in Pennsylvania. However, students who are not currently on campus but lived there previously may be eligible to vote in Pennsylvania, provided they return to campus in the future. For this year in particular, many freshmen and transfer students will not be able to register in Pennsylvania, but most upperclassmen will be able to do so. All voters must provide identification and be eligible to vote within the United States.
Once registered, voters who are currently residing in Pennsylvania can apply for a mail-in ballot for any reason, and out-of-state voters can apply for absentee ballots. Voters should first apply online; they can either print their ballot applications or request that they be mailed to them. If the application is accepted, a ballot will be sent to the voter. They can then fill out and return the ballot to the county election office by mail, granted that it arrives before Election Day Nov. 3.
Voters who feel comfortable doing so can also vote in-person at a local polling place. On Drexel’s campus, the Daskalakis Athletic Center is the nearest polling place for students on or near campus. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Voter registrations must be completed by Monday, Oct. 19. In addition, applications for mail-in and absentee ballots must be received by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 27. Absentee and mail-in ballots must be sent by 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3, to be received by Friday, Nov. 6.
For more information about voting, go to votespa.com.