0

College students upended by the pandemic wrestle with yet another challenge: How to vote this fall?

Posted on

“It was so disheartening to be extremely passionate about this work and to recognize and tell other people that voting is important and necessary to the health of our democracy, then to not be able to participate in it,” the 21-year-old said, adding that when she called the county, officials told her they were not sure why her ballot never arrived. “You have to think: If I was stopped from voting, who else was stopped from voting?”

There are signs that younger Americans, who have historically turned out at the polls at lower rates than older voters, are more energized about voting this November than they have been in decades. Yet the pandemic has created thorny challenges for college students trying to cast their ballots this year — and their predicaments are growing more dire as state voter registration deadlines loom.

Some schools that initially reopened this fall have already sent students home after struggling to contain soaring infection rates, creating complications for those who were planning to vote at or near campus. Other schools may follow suit at any given point this fall, leaving students unsure about the best address to use to register to vote.

Many colleges and universities that are still open canceled their fall breaks in an effort to send students home by Thanksgiving, which means some students who had planned on voting early at home in October no longer will have time off to do so.

The hurdles would be significant for any voter — much less for those who will be casting a ballot in a presidential election for the first time.

“Nervous and anxious definitely describe the apprehension and fear, honestly, of figuring out this voting plan,” said Katya Ehresman, a senior at UT-Austin who is planning to vote in person the day