Non-residents can register for absentee ballots

By Kayla Pickrell

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Students who are registered to vote out of state or out of the county may be eligible to request an absentee ballot to vote in the 2012 Presidential Election.

An absentee ballot is either filled out in the county clerk’s office or through a mailed-in ballot, Fayette County Clerk Donald Blevins Jr. said. Certain qualifications need to be met in order to submit an application and be eligible to vote with an absentee ballot.

“The absentee votes are governed by pretty strict statues,” Blevins said.

The qualifications, according to the Kentucky state government website, are people who are:

• Advanced in age, disabled or ill; • Military personnel, their dependents or overseas citizens;

• A student who temporarily resides outside the county;

• A voter who temporarily resides outside of Kentucky and who maintains eligibility to vote in Kentucky, such as a “snowbird”;

• Incarcerated, but not yet convicted of a crime; • Employed outside of the county all hours the polling place is open.

“Your absentee votes count just as much as voting in a polling location,” Blevins said. “My first request to students is to please vote.”

So far, Blevins has received 1,677 applications for absentee ballots to be mailed in Fayette County alone, and 1,061 ballots have already been sent. A total of 7,515 people were absentee voters in Fayette County for the 2008 Presidential Election, said Tracy Merriman, the Fayette County elections department manager.

The deadline to apply for an absentee vote is Oct. 30, and ballots can be mailed in to the county clerk starting on Oct. 8 and can arrive no later than Nov. 5.

The dates above reflect those of the state of Kentucky. Blevins recommends calling the county clerk in the student’s hometown to know the qualifications and dates for absentee voting.

“Students have the choice to register in their home county or the county where they are at school,” Merriman said. Students registered to vote in their hometowns can either request an absentee ballot or cancel their registration and vote where they go to school — in this case, Fayette County.

Journalism freshman Ryan Schmieder decided to register to vote in Kentucky, whereas his hometown is Warrenton, Va.

“I decided to register in Kentucky because I figured I would be here for the next four years at least and would really want to vote in the upcoming election,” he said. “I would say lack of knowledge was kind of a reason, but it was mainly because I’d be here for so long.”

Once the ballots are sent in to the county clerk, they will remain unopened until Election Day. As of Wednesday morning, 192,928 Fayette County residents were registered to vote. Those could include students who transferred from their original hometown to vote in Lexington.

One problem students have with voting is they think their one vote will have no effect on the outcome, but Blevins said that every vote counts. He said Texas, California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho all became states by only one vote difference.

The decision of Frankfort to become the state capital over Lexington was made by one vote, by a Lexington delegate who voted for Frankfort, Blevins said. The impeachment of President Andrew Johnson in 1868 failed by one vote (in a majority of 54), and Oliver Cromwell took control of England by one vote.

“Not only does your vote count, but you’re also voting for those who choose not to,” Blevins said.