Valencia Students Decide How They Will Cast Their Ballots


Tiffany Tertipes

Voters decide how to cast their ballots

Serena Mack, Reporter

Unprecedented events surrounding this year’s election have triggered an emphasis on voting-by-mail and early voting, leaving many Valencia students to decide what method is best for them in addition to traditional voting questions.

At Valencia Library’s “Becoming an Informed Voter” event on Sep. 29, participants completed a Zoom poll asking if they plan to vote by mail or in-person. Of the respondents, 54% selected the option to vote in person, while 46% chose mail-in-voting.

Chelsea Valentine, a 20-year-old sophomore, is among the Valencia students who would prefer to vote in person. Although she is excited about voting in a presidential election for the first time, Valentine admitted she was concerned that a mail-in ballot could get lost. Initially, she wasn’t sure when she would cast her ballot, but now Valentine says that her family plans “to vote early to avoid long lines on Election Day.”

Another concern of Valentine is knowing what amendments will be on this year’s ballot and which resources she could use for guidance. These concerns won’t stop her from doing the necessary research to cast a confident vote on each issue. “It’s important to evaluate what we want, how do we get to that point, and who’s the best candidate to get us to where we want to be,”  Valentine said.

Like Valentine, Micala Cox is a sophomore at Valencia who wants to vote early and in-person. The  22-year-old former political science major has volunteered for Elizabeth Warren’s campaign, the Florida Justice Center, and multiple civil rights organizations. For Cox, the possibility of postal delays preventing votes from being counted in this election is alarming. However, Cox has always voted early, so she won’t have to make any adjustments. Cox said, “[early voting] makes it easier for everybody. You don’t have to worry about it on election day because you already voted.”

Additionally, Cox knows where she will obtain information if any ballot amendments confuse her. “The Florida League of Women Voters are very informative,” Cox explained. “They have all the ballots broken down.”

The League of Women Voters’ website is included in Valencia Library’s LibGuide of bi-partisan resources for this reason. The LibGuide lists election topics by category with bi-partisan resources that provide answers to common questions, including Vote 411, a one-stop-shop for basic voter information.

The Valencia African Heritage Committee also created a LibGuide for their 2020 theme, titled “African Americans and the Vote.” Fioranny Santana, vice president of Valencia’s Student Government Association, is glad she received the link in their September virtual voting event. Although Santana plans to vote by mail, she wasn’t sure how the mail-in process works. Santana isn’t worried about it now; with this LibGuide, she feels confident that she will find the answers she needs to vote-by-mail. “It even has a sample ballot” Santana said, “that’s where I go if one of my friends asks me a question.”

At the “Know Your Rights” event Santana attended on Sept. 23, Professor Adrienne Matthews was one of the speakers. Matthews encouraged students to vote even if they are uncertain about some of the amendments or candidates. Then she explained that ballots do not have to be fully completed because partial ballots do count. Matthews said students should not let anything keep them from voting for things that are important to them emphasizing, “Minimum wage is on the ballot.”

This type of advice may be especially helpful to new voters like Santana and Vibhutiben Parambhai. Parambhai is a 19-year-old sophomore, who considered voting by mail but is more inclined to vote on Election Day. “I want to experience it,” Parambhai said. “Even if it has long lines.” She hopes her peers are also excited to vote, stating, “It’s our future, and it’s our voice that needs to be heard—now is the time.”

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