The Hopkins College Democrats took 20 students to the polls on Sunday for early voting in the 2012 election. This gave students, especially those with busy schedules on Election Day, the opportunity to cast their ballots in advance.
"This was better than I anticipated, considering Sandy was just around the corner on Sunday afternoon," Junior Matt Stewart, Co-President of the College Democrats, wrote in an e-mail to The News-Letter.
There are several benefits to early voting.
"A lot of people work full time during the week and find it hard to get away from the office to make a trip to the polls," sophomore Leah Barresi, the College Democrats Chair of Fundraising and Chair of Campaigns, wrote in an email to The News-Letter. "If you choose to vote early you can vote on your day off or on the weekend."
Additionally, early voting provides the presidential candidates, as well as political analysts, some clues toward the outcomes of swing states such as Iowa, Florida and Ohio.
Hopkins students have the option to vote as Maryland residents or to complete absentee ballots from their home states.
"Voting is pretty split among Hopkins students in terms of voting in Maryland or in their home states," Barresi wrote. "In tandem with Maryland for Marriage Equality, we registered about 600 people to vote in Maryland this year, but a lot of students are choosing to do absentee ballots from their home states."
Students usually decide to vote in Maryland if they come from a solidly blue or red state. This is especially important to students from solidly blue states because Marriage Equality and the Dream Act are both on the ballot in Maryland.
"Since both New York and Maryland are both solidly blue states, I decided to vote in Maryland," freshman Meaghan Coffey said. "This is because it gives me the opportunity to vote for important issues like the legalization of gay marriage and the passage of the Dream Act. Both of those issues are common sense to me, so I'm jumping at the chance to do my part for equal rights."
Students from swing states typically choose to vote absentee so that they can make a greater difference at home.
"I wanted to hold on to my Coloradan identity," freshman Gen Crawford said. "It feels better voting on matters that affect my home that I actually care about."
Sophomore Carrie Resnick stressed the importance of voting regardless of whether or not a student belongs to a swing state.
"A lot of students tend to think that their vote doesn't matter if they don't vote in a swing state, but in terms of these state issues, every vote is really important, which is why the Hopkins Democrats have put so much emphasis on early voting and voting in general," Resnick wrote in an e-mail to The News-Letter.
Across campus, students are concerned with a broad range of issues in this year's election.
"I would say that most students right now are concerned about the economy and social issues such as gay marriage. Health care and women's rights are also on a lot of student's minds," Barresi wrote. "For me, I'm most concerned about health care, especially for women, women's rights, marriage equality, and other social issues like the freedom to choose."
"If Question 6 is affirmed by voters, it will be the first time marriage equality was upheld in an election, which is incredibly important for the future of human rights in America," Resnick wrote. "In terms of the presidential election, I am very concerned with women's rights, especially in regards to health care access and equality, and thus, I am concerned about the Affordable Care Act not being overturned, among many other issues."
Political activism has been increasing on campus with the upcoming election. There were regularly large turnouts for screenings of the presidential debates at Nolan's.
"I've definitely found the politically active people with College Democrats and that's been a great experience. I wouldn't say it's a politically-charged or even politically-minded atmosphere here," Coffey said.