Our 2020 Voting Experiences

This year has been crazy, and adding an election that everyone on both sides has been waiting for just add to its craziness. And with the pandemic, everyone had to change their voting plans and find new ways to make sure our voices were heard. Whether we voted using absentee, mail-in ballots, voted for the first time, or voted early, we all agree that even though our voting experiences were a bit unusual, we all knew that voting was the only option. And even if our experience was stressful, we got it done.

Elizabeth Berry's Experience ('21)

This year was the first time I could vote in the Presidential Election, but it was the second time I voted by absentee ballot. However, voting via absentee ballot while at college and during a pandemic proved to be rather stress-inducing. I had a freakout before leaving for the Fall semester that we would be sent home before November 3 and I would not have access to my absentee ballot (which I thought I had sent to my Campus Box). After an email exchange with my town clerk’s office, I realized I could just vote in-person if this were to happen. Fortunately, we were able to remain on campus for almost the entire semester, so I did vote using my absentee ballot. However, it ended up being sent to my home address rather than to Conn––which is strange because this is not the address I had indicated and my ballot for the MA primaries was sent to Conn. My mom had to mail me the ballot to Conn and then I mailed it back to my town. When I first used the MA Track My Ballot website, no status was available for my ballot. So I emailed my town clerk again (who at this point probably thinks I shouldn’t graduate in the Spring). They were able to confirm that my ballot had been received. Apparently, you are supposed to write out your entire street name and leave the street suffix blank (which is not what I did at first). Needless to say, my voting experience in 2020 was not stress-free, but I have a feeling that a lot of other voters can relate. I am fortunate enough to have the privilege to vote in this election.

Elyce Afrifa's Experience ('22)

I became able to vote in 2018 and have been voting every election since then. I have had to vote by absentee ballot twice already before this election since I am from NYC and go to school in Connecticut. So the whole voting by mail experience isn't new to me. In fact, I have had less experience voting in person. I have only voted in person this Spring when choosing the Democratic Presidential Candidate due to us being sent home. For this election, my first time voting for the President, I was extremely ready. I checked my voter registration status in August and requested my absentee ballot in September. They said it was going to be sent out by the third week of September and I checked my mailbox religiously until I got it. I sent out my ballot in the first week of October. So for me my 2020 voting experience hasn't been any different from what it has been, the only thing that has changed is my urgency in making sure I vote and making sure my vote is counted.

Caitlin Boyd's Experience ('24)

Having just turned 18 a few months ago, this election was the first time I was ever able to vote. It was really exciting to me that I would get to cast my first ballot on such a monumental election where the stakes were so high. Unlike a lot of voters, I did not have any trouble sending or receiving my ballot. My town had sent me a Mail In Ballot Application on my birthday in August, so I did not have to worry about figuring out how to receive a ballot.When I returned my ballot to my town clerk, I could see that it had been received within a week (lots of respect and appreciation for the USPS). Most of my voter stress came from actually filling out a ballot for the first time. Maybe it was because I had been at school in another state, but I felt shamefully unaware about my state and local elections. I was actually really grateful that I had been casting my vote from my dorm room, where I could research the candidates and the questions instead of in a voting booth where I would have felt like an uninformed voter. Voting for the first time really made me feel like I was doing my part to make a difference, as well as made me feel connected to other voters across the country as we rallied together behind a candidate.

Elizabeth Vinson's Experience ('21)

In the first election I voted in, which was in 2018, I used an absentee ballot while I was at school, and it was fairly straightforward. However, since I am home this semester, I voted early in-person. Especially in the few months leading up to the election, there were questions about the reliability of mail-in ballots because of the attempts to block and limit them, my parents and I wanted to physically see our ballots being submitted. First off, the lines were LONG. We had early voting in my town for two weeks, and every single day the lines out the door, around the corner, and winding a literal mile. So, my parents and I woke up really early one day, and stood in line outside  the Town Hall building where early voting was being held. Even though it was really cold, with our lawn chairs, we were about fifth in line and waited an hour and a half until we were allowed in. Everyone in line wore masks and tried to maintain a safe distance, and once inside, they limited the number of people inside at a time. They also had markers on the ground that indicated the proper social distancing requirements. Once inside, it was pretty standard. I got my ballot, used a pen, and marked in the bubbles for who I was voting for. When I was done, I put my ballot into the machine myself, got my “I VOTED!” sticker, and left. All within about 20-30 minutes. There was definitely nothing that would’ve stopped me from casting my ballot, and even though the lines were long, it was amazing to see so many people coming out to make their voices heard.

And as we have seen this week, no matter how we voted, every single vote counts.