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College students don't vote absentee because 'they don't know where to get stamps': county official

It appears some college students in Fairfax County, Virginia, are having a little trouble turning in their absentee ballots. Why? They can't seem to figure out where to get postage stamps. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Despite the heightened political activism on college campuses these days, it appears some students in Fairfax County, Virginia, are having a little trouble turning in their absentee ballots.

Why? They can't seem to figure out where to get postage stamps.

That's what a county focus group discovered this summer, WTOP-FM reported.

'Like a hump that they can’t get across'

“One thing that came up, which I had heard from my own kids but I thought they were just nerdy, was that the students will go through the process of applying for a mail-in absentee ballot, they will fill out the ballot, and then, they don’t know where to get stamps,” Lisa Connors of the Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs told the station. “That seems to be like a hump that they can’t get across.”

The focus group included college interns from a number of county departments, WTOP reported.

“They all agreed that they knew lots of people who did not send in their ballots because it was too much of a hassle or they didn’t know where to get a stamp,” Connors added to the station. “Across the board, they were all nodding and had a very spirited conversation about, ‘Oh yeah, I know so many people who didn’t send theirs in because they didn’t have a stamp.’”

But that ain't all

It appears that county college students' trouble with turning in absentee ballots goes beyond, you know, walking to the post office with a couple of quarters.

It seems the process itself can be "very confusing and it has a lot of pieces that can sort of go wrong in the middle of it,” Kate Hanley, Fairfax County Electoral Board secretary, told WTOP.

For instance, students could have changed their voter registration location if they got a new driver’s license or filled out a new voter registration application on campus, the station said.

Fairfax County General Registrar Gary Scott told WTOP he wants to make certain that students fill out absentee ballot request forms correctly — particularly filling in the home address where they're registered to vote in the area labeled “residence address” and filling in the address where they want the ballot delivered in a separate area marked more clearly, as mixing up the two invalidates the forms.

“And so, we have to deny that application,” Scott told the station. “Because we have to match to make sure it’s the right person getting a ballot.”

If all else fails

County officials hope many students will vote in-person absentee while visiting home during fall breaks, WTOP said, adding that in-person absentee voting begins Friday.

According to Virginia's Department of Elections, one can visit his or her local registrar’s office to vote absentee in-person within 45 days prior a given election. At the registrar’s office, just fill out an Absentee Application after showing an acceptable form of photo ID, and then you can vote absentee in-person using a voting machine in the registrar’s office.

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