We thought we had run out of things to say about the election, but we were wrong.
This involves what we hope everyone will consider a favorable development. It suggests that the republic’s future might be a good bit brighter than some people think it is, and it was completely unanticipated.
In this day and age, when lamentations of widespread apathy abound, particularly as it relates to young people, who would have thought a polling place that’s used by college students would run out of ballots?
That’s what happened on Election Day in Frostburg (“Precinct runs out of ballots after effort to get FSU students to polls,” Nov. 9 Times-News, Page 4A).
When registered voters in Maryland can’t make it to a polling site in their precinct and an absentee ballot is no longer an option, they may request a provisional ballot.
The Frostburg Community Center polling place is one of three in the Mountain City and the closest to Frostburg State University.
The county Board of Elections sent 250 provisional ballots to the community center and, by 3 p.m., all of them were gone — with five hours left to go before the polls closed. Another 500 provisional ballots were sent to the precinct within 15 minutes.
Even if they live on campus, many of FSU’s students technically are residents of other counties.
Some — including Karen Urquilla, a Prince George’s County resident — said they knew they could have requested an absentee ballot or gone home to vote, but didn’t.
Urquilla told our reporter Heather B. Wolford that “I didn’t know there was a provisional ballot until today, so I came to vote. I wouldn’t have voted without it.”
Credit FSU’s administration for encouraging students to vote.
An email that was part of an effort to educate students about voting and getting them to do so was sent out the day before the election. It discussed early voting and absentee ballots, but also told them they still could vote even if they hadn’t taken advantage of the other alternatives.
The university also provided a free shuttle service for students, taking them to polling places every hour on the hour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The shuttles took 62 students to vote and waited until all of them had voted before going back to campus.
Lennon Gross, a Montgomery County resident, told Wolford that “I think it’s one of those things where I am proud of my university today and proud of the people who set this up and got this in order so we could have this opportunity.”
Amen to that, and well-said.
Our universities are institutions of higher education, and education doesn’t consist solely of what some of us call “book learning.”
It also includes such things as finding out about life and being exposed to the history and traditions that make America what it is — particularly America’s reliance upon the people’s right to practice self-determination and self-governing by the simple act of voting.
Too often, we hear that young people don’t care. We’ve never believed that, because we know better. It’s encouraging that these young people decided to vote after finding out they still had a chance to do so.
Our experience has been that voting is habit-forming. Once you learn to do it, you want to keep on doing it, and you’ll encourage others to do the same.
We’re Americans, and that’s what we’ve been doing for a long time now.