Limits on Early Voting: Personal Stories of Impact

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Early voting allows for registered voters to cast their ballots before the designated election day for that state. Currently, 38 states including D.C. allow early voting. Pennsylvania does not allow early voting. Pennsylvania is one of 12 states does not allow for no excuse early voting, also known as early voting. 

Here is how Pennsylvania’s policy affects its voters:

Madisen Young, 20, Skippack Township, Student

As a college student with two part-time jobs Madisen Young was not able to vote in the last election. She said that if Pennsylvania allowed for early voting she would have easily been able to utilize that service and contribute her vote. “The more time I have the better,” said Young who was frustrated that she was unable to participate in the democratic process last election.  

Kerri Hanshaw, 21, Perkiomen Valley Township, Student 

Another college student who was unable to vote in the last election is Kerri Hanshaw. She knows how important voting is and was deeply frustrated she was not able to vote in the last election. She described the situation as a lose-lose because she wanted to have her voice heard but was unable to drive home from college in the middle of the day in the middle of the week. 

Stories like Madisen’s and Kerri’s are common among college students from Pennsylvania. 

Without early voting many students are unable to vote in elections. While absentee ballot voting is approved in Pennsylvania, being a college student away at school is not a valid excuse. “People can actually face criminal charges for inaccuracies on their absentee ballot,” Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach said. 

Early voting is all about increasing voter opportunity and getting people involved. 

Melissa Overholser, 45, Skippack Township, Teacher

Melissa Overholser finds it extremely difficult to “find that balance of doing my civic duty and being tired after working all day and then running around with the kids.” If she was given the opportunity to vote early, she feels it would be much more manageable. Overholser understands the concept that “one vote really makes a difference” and wants to be able to contribute in every election. 

Brooke MacDonald, 43, Skippack Township, Stay at home mom

As a mother of four boys Brooke MacDonald struggles to make it to her polling location on election day. While she was able to make it this past election she said that it would be much better if early voting was allowed, even if just a couple of extra days. “It’s really hard to get there on election day when the kids are all off from school,” said MacDonald. Voting is important to MacDonald but can be quite a challenge.

Mike Hopkins, 29, Royersford Township, Information Technology

Mike Hopkins relies on public transportation and finds it increasingly difficult to get to the polls on election day. “Getting to work on time can be hard enough. Trying to fit an extra stop in there is just too much,” said Hopkins. If early voting was allowed in Pennsylvania Mike would be able to go on his day off or a time that works better with the bus schedule. 

Ryan Bittone, 23, Norristown Township, Customer Relations 

While Ryan Bittone was able to make it to the polls on election day he encountered long lines that could have been less with the allowance of early voting. Ryan said that if early voting was instituted in Pennsylvania he would utilize the service. “Especially if I had prior engagements like a doctor’s appointment on Election Day,” he said. 

Brittany Stinson, 26, Limerick Township, Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers work incredibly hard to meet the needs of their students and that often means working longer than normal hours. As Brittany Stinson works hard to help her students she was too tired after a day of teaching and paperwork to make it to the polls. “If early voting was an option that would be so much easier. You never know when you’re going to have a tough day so having options is always better,” said Stinson. 

Jeremiah Terez, 22, North Coventry Township, Information Technology Consultant 

Getting to the polls is challenging for someone like Jeremiah Terez who works second shift. Being able to get to work on time and sleep regularly on voting day is difficult. Jeremiah was able to make it work in the last election but encountered long lines. “With the long lines I was nervous I would be late for work,” said Terez. “If I could have voted early and avoided that, I definitely would have.” 

Phil Moody, 24, Norristown Township, Receptionist 

Phil Moody doesn’t have trouble getting to the polls but says that early voting would remove a lot of the pressure he feels on Election Day. Early voting eliminates barriers beyond the physical troubles of getting to the polls. Meaning, it eliminates the stress of having to get there and get through long lines. With a less stressful environment that early voting can provide, someone like Phil would benefit greatly. 

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Youth Voters Unite is a transmedia storytelling project produced by senior Communication majors at Cabrini University. Students in Senior Convergence: Media for Social Justice are reporting this academic year on the voting process and voting justice topics. Their goal is to educate youth voters on the importance of engaging in the political process and claiming their right to shape their own future. 

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