Early in-person voting opened in Indiana on Wednesday, Oct. 12. That same day, several students gathered at Monroe County’s early voting center on South Walnut Street and spoke to the Indiana Daily Student about why they believe voting, and access to early voting, is important.
Isabelle deCastro is a junior studying international law and Spanish. She’s a Monroe County Democratic Precinct Committee Person for Bloomington District 7, meaning she helps register and mobilize voters in her district and the Democratic party.
To deCastro, there’s a simple reason why students should vote. IU has over 40 thousand students; that’s about half of Bloomington’s population.
She organized an event to register voters, she said, and was surprised by the passion and activism displayed by the students she saw.
“When given the opportunity and taken seriously,” deCastro said, “students will use their voice to make a difference.”
There are so many students with opinions on what’s going on politically, she said, who don’t realize their voices matter. Her position with the Monroe County Democratic Party has shown her local government does want to hear from students, and she’s hoping students vote so they can represent their IU community.
Ana Almanza, a junior majoring in political science and Spanish, also spoke at the event. She said she sees voting as a fundamental right and, because there are still some people who face obstacles to voting, that it’s important to help people become educated on where they can vote and how to register.
Students should vote, Almanza said, because they’re the younger generation. It’s important to make sure students are represented on all levels, as that’s how political change occurs.
“Our voices matter too,” Almanza said.
Almanza said she sees early voting as especially crucial because, ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, not everyone is able to get out to the polls. She believes it’s important to have that option to give people variety in how they can vote. Additionally, it helps eliminate obstacles from jobs or lack of transportation, which is especially important in low-income communities.
Almanza said, while she may have gone into the voting process with more knowledge than most students because of her political science classes, she feels personalized ballot voting guide websites provided valuable information.
Beyond Wednesday’s event, other IU students have also begun voting early, many voting in places too far to travel to on Election Day. One of those students is Matt Levy, who voted in his home state of Ohio.
Levy, a sophomore informatics major, said when he voted, the polls were nearly empty and the process was quick and easy. He said he believes people should have access to early voting for the same reasons as Almanza, and he said that having more time gives people more flexibility.
When he’s looking at who to vote for, Levy said he tries to vote for candidates that most closely align with his values, which for him includes building public transportation and strengthening welfare programs. However, he also said that there may be cases where he votes for one candidate to keep another he dislikes out of office.
To find out which candidates he wants to support, Levy said he looks at candidates’ positions, histories and campaign donors.
Early voting in Indiana ends at noon Nov. 7. Exact dates and times can be found at Monroe County’s early voting website.