Students at Drake University were encouraged all semester to voice their opinion and vote in the 2016 presidential election. On Nov. 8, polling began across America. The time finally came for college students to vote at the polls in their first presidential election, yet some had already voted.
Drake Associate Professor of Journalism, Lee Jolliffe, had previously sent in an absentee ballot. Jolliffe is the state wide chair of volunteers for the Hillary Clinton group out of Dallas and also has taught the first year seminar, Iowa Caucuses: Grassroots Politics on a Global Stage, at Drake. Jolliffe sent in an absentee ballot because she wanted to work at the poll tables Tuesday night.
Sophomore Nathan Paulsen has been spending time as the youth campaign director for republican David Young. He, along with Jolliffe, was one of many who submitted an absentee ballot.
“I knew there’d be a lot of people voting and obviously I didn’t want to wait in line,” Paulsen said. Working on Young’s campaign didn’t give Paulsen much free time to vote on election day.
Paulsen saw no downside to early voting. “It doesn’t give an excuse to not vote,” Paulsen said. “When people say ‘well I didn’t have time,’ this does not give an excuse not to vote when they could have.”
On the other hand, senior Travis Brauer wanted to get the full experience of voting in his first presidential election so he attended a polling site. Brauer had no incentive to vote earlier so he waited until election day.
Brauer believes that since polling sites were close to Drake’s campus, there was a better student voter turnout. “Drake is uniquely and politically involved already,” Brauer said.
“If students at Drake weren’t constantly notified where to vote, I think we would have a significantly lower turnout, if not under 40 percent,” Paulsen said.
Paulsen also said that early voting would raise voting numbers and redirect marketing advertisements.
“Early voting could be used a lot more effectively and more marketed,” Paulsen said. “This helps the candidates determine where they need to target their ads.”
Early voting gives citizens the opportunity to lock their vote before the election day.
“From a democratic standpoint, we are given a couple months to get people out to vote,” Jolliffe said. “We are really bad about showing up and voting on election day.”
Many students that attend Drake are from across the country, and to vote in Iowa, one is required to register. Administration advised students to be familiar with the voting process. When students register to vote in Iowa, they are given the opportunity to vote in the state and local elections in the community rather than in their hometown which is what an absentee ballot would provide.
According to the Drake University website, they stated that they are “committed to meaningful and thoughtful conversation about the issues that define our public life and we encourage informed participation in those conversations, including participation in the electoral process.”
Jolliffe can attest to political commitment in Drake students. “I don’t care what you think, I just want you to think and to vote,” Jolliffe said.
Regardless political beliefs, students were encouraged to vote. Polling was held for students on Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m throughout various locations around Drake.