Northwestern students can vote in Evanston or at home. How do they decide?


Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

Medill senior Adam Yates and SESP junior Matthew Zients wait in line to vote early at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center on November 5, 2018.

Sneha Dey, Reporter

As midterm elections come to a close, students could choose to vote at the polls in Evanston or back home, using absentee ballots.

Absentee voting is “just the thing to do,” said SESP junior Kelsey Morton. As a freshman, she was unaware she could even vote in Illinois. She recalls registering to vote during Wildcat Welcome, right after she received her WildCARD. Morton said she filled out the absentee registration form handed to her without question.

For this year’s midterm elections, Morton requested an absentee ballot again. Morton, who is from Wichita Falls, Texas, plans to return to her hometown after she graduates. She said the Texan elections will impact her more than Illinois’.

She was also excited to vote for U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke in the Senate race against incumbent Ted Cruz. According to a Quinnipiac University poll released October 29, Cruz has a just a five-point lead over O’Rourke.

“This is the only time where my vote might matter because it is so close,” Morton said.

Like Morton, other students often consider the competitiveness of the race and where their votes could impact the outcome more.

Madeline Hertz is from Ohio, a major swing state in recent years. The Communication senior said she wants to keep her Ohio registration for the presidential elections, and that voting in Illinois is an option she never considered. “My vote counts more there…for both his campaigns, Obama came and spoke at [my] high school.”

Hertz also chose to absentee vote because she feels more connected to her hometown.

“I really love Cleveland. We’ve been living Cleveland for a very long time,” said Hertz. She added that she still doesn’t “feel a strong tie to Illinois.”

Other students care about the issues in Illinois as soon as they get on campus. Chloe Bollinger who is from Montclair, New Jersey, will vote at the polls Tuesday. The Weinberg freshman cares about Chicago’s gun violence issues and need for education reform. She wants “a governor that can tackle those issues.”

Rob Donahue, the associate director of the Center for Civic Center Engagement, said he also sees a phenomenon where freshmen tend to register back home, but that seniors more often vote in Evanston.

“A lot of students when they’re arriving on campus think ‘I’m new to this place, I don’t know people,’” Donahue said. “By the time they’re seniors…you find students that have had internships, and are maybe renting an apartment and are dealing with the city and all of the sudden have opinions about things that are going on.”

A number of students sent in an absentee ballot request, but will receive them too late. Matthew Perez, a McCormick freshman, wanted to vote in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana. Last Friday was the last date Perez could postmark his ballot, but it still hadn’t arrived in the mail. He’s going to register to vote in Illinois at the polls on Tuesday, through Illinois’ grace registration period.

“I need to vote,” he said. “I love being a part of the whole democratic system.”

Cameron Cook contributed reporting

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