USPS could be only ones to blame
By Sarah Stubbs
Four University of Findlay students have told the Pulse that following the Oilers for America event on Sept. 27, hosted by the Student Government Association (SGA), that their respective Boards of Elections never received their absentee ballot applications.
These students were waiting anxiously and watching the mail to see when their ballots would come in over the last three to four weeks. By the time they decided to reach out to their BOEs to see what was going on, it would be too late to request a ballot and have it mailed in in time to have their votes counted.
One student, Kate Bauer, a senior education major, ended up taking a Saturday off of school work to drive to her hometown of Van Wert to vote early after she checked her campus mailbox nearly every day just to be disappointed.
“I feel as though whoever’s responsibility it was to get the ballots to the correct place really dropped the ball since this is such an important election to participate in,” Bauer said.
Sabrina Sears, a first-year in the doctoral of physical therapy (DPT) program at UF, actually voted on Election Day because she found out that her BOE didn’t receive her absentee ballot application before the deadline to reregister to vote in Hancock County passed. Sears didn’t have to venture too far off campus to voice her vote.
“I am disappointed that I didn’t get it because I have had to spend a lot of time outside of school, work, and studying just to figure out how I can practice my right to vote,” Sears said.
Sears added that she knows SGA’s intent was to have a Get Out the Vote event was positive, but worries that others who might not have been as proactive as she was in looking for her absentee ballot in the mail might not have been able to vote at all.
Bauer wasn’t the only one to drop everything and drive home to exercise her right.
Rebecka Stricker, a junior education major and VP of SGA, also drove home to vote when she realized her BOE never received her absentee ballot application.
“I immediately got in my car and drove home to vote because I wanted to make sure my voice was heard in an election as crucial as this one, especially since I believe every vote truly counts,” Stricker said. “According to the news, this has been an unfortunate issue throughout Northwest Ohio. I was very fortunate to have to ability to go home and vote, as I know some affected by the mail distribution in Pontiac, MI were unable to do so.”
According to the Toledo Blade, 104 absentee ballots were unaccounted for in Henry County alone.
There have been several challenges with absentee voting and voting by mail with the USPS, but most of the cases have been an issue of the ballots not being received or the ballots being delayed, and not the applications for the absentee ballots.
In regards to the SGA event, the individuals who didn’t receive their ballots called their BOEs and found that their applications were never received.
Dave Emsweller, VP of student affairs, confirmed that SGA did everything in their power to ensure applications were properly mailed.
“SGA took all the registrations and absentee ballot applications they received directly to the Findlay Post Office to ensure they were mailed to the State of Ohio by the deadline. So, I believe something must have happened after they were mailed,” Emsweller said. “Recent media reports indicate that absentee ballot requests were ‘lost’ in the mail, but no additional information has been provided.”
Abby Arnold, also a first-year in the DPT program, reached out to Emsweller when her ballot did not come in the mail and she is thankful that she did, as he guided her in helping her vote provisionally, making phone calls to the Hancock County BOE on Arnold’s behalf.
“I do not think anyone in specific is to blame because I know there was an issue with the postal services getting the ballots out,” Arnold said. “Dave Emsweller was extremely helpful in this whole process by directing me where to go.”
Emsweller ensured that SGA did the best they possibly could.
“It’s certainly unfortunate that some people did not get the absentee ballot they requested, but I am confident that SGA took their responsibility seriously, and that the registrations and absentee ballot applications they received were mailed as promised,” Emsweller said.