As we approach the midterm elections, new reporting from Fairfax County Virginia explains that many college students will not be voting absentee. Why? Sending in an absentee ballot requires knowledge of a foreign concept to millennials: snail mail.
In a focus group of college students, researchers found that all participants “Agreed that they knew lots of people who did not send in their ballots because it was too much of a hassle of they didn’t know where to get a stamp.”
Average college students probably cannot remember a time before email. The internet has adversely affected postal services across the board. “Americans are sending less mail than they used to, with overall volume falling 43 percent since 2001. That decline is especially pronounced among Millennials.”
Financially, this adds up to estimated $2.7 billion in losses for postal services in 2017. In response, USPS released a plan to win over millennials—but will it come in time to impact the millennial vote?
Democrats are counting on the millennial vote to bring the ‘blue wave’ in the coming months. However, being that November is right in the middle of the semester—I would imagine that many college students will not be at home to vote.
In my college town, there was always a push to re-register to vote so you would be able to go in person. This would avoid the absentee ballot problem, but it relies on millennial engagement and follow through. Historically, young people have not shown up to the polls during midterm elections.
We are still far away from absentee voting online despite some groups' continued push for this innovation. Helpful sites like vote.org promise to make absentee voting as streamline as possible. Just one last thing—where do you buy stamps?