Students, ready and willing to vote, express concerns about election

Early voters fill out their ballots on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, at the Lexington Senior Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff.

Haley Simpkins

Election day is a little over a week away and UK students are gearing up to do their civic duty. Pandemic aside, this election is unlike any other, which has left many students anxious for the election itself and the result that may come of it.

The validity of mail-in voting and the process itself has been a major point of contention during this election season. Many states, including Kentucky, expanded absentee voting to accommodate COVID-19 concerns, although earlier issues with the United States Postal Service caused a scare about votes being received in time. As such, voters were encouraged to mail in their ballot as early as possible. UK students are also taking part in the conversation over voting methods.

Kayla Woodson, a junior political science major, said she doesn’t have any concerns about mail-in voting.

“I find it completely safe,” Woodsen said. “It’s a system that’s always been available during elections, granted on not such a large scale, but it is the safest option given the pandemic.”

However, Woodson did find herself questioning if she was anxious about other things this election season.

“No [I don’t have any concerns], because I don’t want to speculate or create or feed into the conspiracy theories about what horrible things may happen as a result of the election,” Woodson said. “Yes [I do have concerns], because in my opinion, we’re in some very strange and unprecedented times that may have some dramatic effects on the election.

Aidan O’Brien, a junior biology major, said he isn’t necessarily worried about the validity of the mail-in voting process, but he does have some anxieties about the mistakes voters may make on their ballots.

“My anxieties concerning voting are centered around the rejection of ballots due to the extra steps required to have a mail-in ballot counted,” O’Brien said. “With every additional step in the process, the risk of error increases. I worry that votes won’t be counted due to the added complexities.”

Despite this concern, O’Brien did vote by mail and received confirmation that his ballot was received. Aside from mail-in voting, O’Brien also expressed anxiety about the result of the election.

“I’m trying to be hopeful, but I’d also like people to know that they should not let their guard down, regardless of the outcome,” O’Brien said.

Dagen Rash, a sophomore mining engineering major, said his concerns were more about the accessibility of in-person voting for students.

“Unfortunately, many students especially those who live in dorms do not have access to transportation and may not realize the process of a mail-in ballot,” Rash said.

UK is offering free rides to the Dunbar Center polling locations between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the early voting period. Students can find more information on the specific pick up locations and days that the service is available by visiting Students can also visit the state’s election updates page to find answers about the mail-in voting process.

McKenzie Ryan, a freshman political science and philosophy double major, said she decided to vote by mail, but the COVID-19 pandemic is a concern that she has for those who are voting in-person.

“I did not have any anxieties for me personally, but I am nervous for others, particularly those who chose to vote in-person and who are in the ‘at risk’ category for the COVID-19 virus,” Ryan said.

Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins Jr. urged citizens last week to take advantage of the early voting locations to prevent long lines and wait times on Election Day. He said that Lexington so far has not had enough people voting early to prevent long lines on Nov. 3. For those who are interested in voting in-person either early or on Election Day in Lexington, visit to see locations and hours. The CDC also has in-person voting safety guidelines on their website.

Jennifer Osting,a junior political science major, said she has a different type of concern for the upcoming election. Osting said she is anxious to see how the winner of the election will handle some of the nation’s most important and devise issues like race or getting back to ‘normal’ after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My greatest anxiety for this upcoming election is empty promises,” Osting said.

Osting said all candidates make “broad promises” on how to address these important issues, but she is anxious to see which of those promises are kept.

“These promises are important to the American people as it is the foundation of why we elect these candidates to begin with,” Osting said. “I hope that whatever promises are made by each candidate are able to be kept and backed up through policy and reform.”

Despite these anxieties and concerns, all of the students interviewed expressed the importance of voting no matter the circumstances.

Woodson said her vote was not only for the future but also a way to appreciate those who have fought for her right to vote in the past.

“So many Black people before me have risked their lives for the right to vote, so I owe to them, myself and others to vote,” Woodson said.

O’Brien said people should vote not just as a direct way to use their voice, but also to show the politicians already in office what issues they care about.

“Politicians respond to votes, so voting is one way to signal your dissent or support with a politician’s actions,” O’Brien said.

Rash said he votes because it is his duty and right as an American citizen, plus it can have a lasting impact.

“The least we can do as Americans is express our rights and contribute to choosing who you believe should be elected into the highest positions,” Rash said. “I just want to encourage everyone to get out and vote because it could impact your life forever!”

Ryan said she votes for what she hopes will be a better future.

“I vote to better our country,” Ryan said. “I want a country where minorities don’t fear for their rights and are comfortable voicing their opinions and living their lives.”

Osting said she hopes college students won’t let their anxieties and worries stop them from casting their vote, no matter how they do it.

“Elections are so vitally important for us as college students because we have the potential to secure the future that we want for ourselves through voting,” Osting said. “Candidates may change each election, but the issues remain. So, it is important that we have a voice in deciding who will best represent those wants and needs for our futures.”