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Every vote counts: Absentee ballots are more important than you think

Even if absentee votes aren't counted on election night, out-of-state students should still vote.

Photo illustration depicting a student voter filling out a sample absentee ballot.

Photo illustration depicting a student voter filling out a sample absentee ballot.

With less than a week left until election day there's still a chance for last-minute voters to send in absentee ballots. 

For those absentee voters who don't think their vote counts, it does — technically.

Before you decide to not even vote, let me explain the process.

Absentee ballots are counted in final tallies but on election night, they don't mean anything unless your state is too close to call or near the end of normal poll counts.

They essentially serve as tie breakers. If a candidate is winning by a certain amount of votes after all the normal votes are counted, and there are more absentee ballots than in that candidate's lead, then there is a possibility the absentee ballots could change the outcome.

As much as this process seems tedious and may make you lose interest in voting, you still should because it's more important than you think.


"(Absentee ballots) can matter and they keep you involved in the process in general," public policy senior Ryan Boyd said. "It's often all the civic and social benefits of voting in person without the hassle."

This is the year where all Millennials are eligible to vote, and a large chunk of that group is college students.

A good portion of those students are from out of state, which means they have to fill out absentee ballots. 

If more absentee ballots are sent in, then there is more of a chance they get counted earlier and could change the direction of the race.

Absentee votes are important no matter what. They get counted just like every other vote, but what's different is when they get counted.

Only the outcome of the 2000 presidential race was changed by absentee ballots.

Absentee and early voting has only grown since then and this year millions are expected to vote early or absentee.

So far, early voting has benefited Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, but anything is still possible with a week left.

Absentee ballots also help down-ballot races more than the national ones.

Those races tend to be decided by double or sometimes even single-digit margins. That's when your vote really matters.

So, if you really want to make a difference this election, be aware of the process. But don't let it discourage you from voting, no matter what form that process takes. 

Make your voice heard at home, even if it's from across the country.

Reach the columnist at or follow @abkbundy on Twitter.

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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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