November 24, 2020

New voter navigates mail-in voting process 600-plus miles away from home

Katarina Serbentas voted in her first presidential election this year. Being over 600 miles away from home, however, complicated the experience.

For Webster sophomore Katarina Serbentas, voting in a presidential election for the first time is not going as smoothly as she’d hoped.

Voting for the first time carries a lot of pressure and complications when Serbentas can’t be in her hometown in Michigan – which is a 12 hour drive – to vote in person. This only emphasizes the disappointment of not being able to vote the traditional way.

Serbentas found the process of voting by mail to be a bit difficult to navigate. Finding a time to mail a ballot is difficult for a busy college student who is just hoping they can make it to class on time.

Serbentas received her blank ballot in the mail, filled it out and didn’t know where to go from there. Having never mailed anything from campus before, it took some research on her part to find a place on campus to mail it out. This brought on complications of their own.

It took a couple tries to send out her ballot. Serbentas made her way to Loretto Hall once she was finally done with her daily classes only to find the doors locked and the mail services closed for the day. She went back the next day and found success, finally submitting her first vote in a presidential election.

With all the turmoil surrounding mail-in voting, having her only option to vote be an absentee ballot is not ideal. There are a number of things that could prevent her vote from counting.

“Something could go wrong…” Serbentas said. “I don’t know if it’s going to arrive in time to be counted.”

Not only this, but conditions for mail-in voting are strict for this 2020 election. If there is even the slightest sign of disturbance to Serbentas’ ballot, it will not be counted, even if it arrives on time. For example, The Brennan Center reported if her signature on the ballot does not completely match the one on her voter registration, there is a chance her ballot may be rejected.

This is an issue for some states due to the fact that election administrators are the ones to compare the signatures, and more often than not they do not have training in handwriting analysis. The National Conference of State Legislatures states that some states allow voters to correct these discrepancies, Michigan -the state Serbentas’ ballot will be sent- is not one of them.

Serbentas is confident she has done everything she could do to ensure the validity of her vote but she knows anything can happen.

“I went out of my way and put effort into mailing the ballot and getting it sent out, so I’ll be really upset [if it gets rejected].” Serbentas said.

However, she knows one thing for sure.

“I just really want Trump out of office.” Serbentas said.

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