Like most Americans, I learned during the 2016 presidential election that elections have consequences. Though I myself voted in the election, many of my friends chose to abstain due to frustration with both major candidates. Since that election, the importance of voting as a means of effecting change has become more clear to young people. It is for this reason that I have put such an effort into voting in this midterm cycle.
I placed a request for my absentee ballot to vote in my home state of Georgia on Oct. 5, 2018, with my local election board. After a few days, I checked Georgia’s online voter system and was relieved to learn that my request had been approved Oct. 10 and that a ballot was issued to me on that same day.
Roughly a week later, I had not yet received my ballot, so I decided to call my election board and inquire about its status. During the brief conversation I had with an employee from the Dekalb County Election Board, I became increasingly apprehensive about my ability to vote. The employee informed me it was impossible to track my ballot once it had been mailed, and I was encouraged to visit the office so that I could vote in person even though I had requested an absentee ballot. This lack of regard surrounding the location of my ballot and the dismissal of my desire to vote only worried me further as stories surrounding voter suppression emerged from Georgia, as Alexis Smith (COL ’22) discussed last week in a Viewpoint published in The Hoya.
A few days later, I placed another call to the Dekalb County Election Board, and I was once again encouraged to vote in person. After explaining to the employee that doing so was impossible, as I requested the absentee ballot for the sole reason that I was unable to vote in person, I was assured that they would issue a new ballot to me.
The very next day, Oct. 30, my initial ballot finally arrived. I immediately called my election board to inquire about the legal status of the ballot. After receiving a scattered array of conflicting information, I was eventually informed that the ballot I had received — 20 days after I had requested it — had been cancelled and that I would not be able to use it. I was told to wait for the new ballot, although there was no guarantee that it would arrive before the election. After expressing my frustration with the situation, I hung up the phone and resolved to figure out a different way to vote.
Five days later, I found myself sitting at home in Lithonia, Ga., where I will remain until Tuesday afternoon. I made a 10-hour journey so that I may cast my vote in person. Though the trip came at an inconvenient time, as I will be missing four classes and two days of work, I refuse to allow my vote to be suppressed and I will not return to school until my voice has been heard.
Eriss Donaldson is a senior in the College.