Even though Chase Fitzpatrick tries to convince people to vote nearly every day, his ability to vote himself was in jeopardy.(c) 2020 Allison Weiss

2020 Elections

SU Student Flies Home to Texas to Vote in Person

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Allison Weiss: GETTING OTHER PEOPLE TO VOTE IS SOMETHING CHASE FITZPATRICK DEALS WITH ON A NEAR-DAILY BASIS AS HE CAMPAIGNS FOR TEXAS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE CANDACE VALENZUELA. BUT HIS OWN PLANS TO CAST A BALLOT ARE NOT FOLLOWING THE USUAL SCRIPT. FITZPATRICK APPLIED FOR AN ABSENTEE BALLOT OVER A MONTH AND A HALF AGO BUT HIS DAILY TRIPS TO THE MAILBOX STILL LEAVE HIM EMPTY-HANDED.

Chase Fitzpatrick: “I have made the decision to fly home and vote in person. Hopefully my ballot shows up in person, so I do not have to vote provisionally, but I’ll nonetheless feel good that I made the effort to vote.”

Weiss: IF HE DOES NOT RECEIVE HIS BALLOT, HIS VOTE IN-PERSON WILL NOT BE COUNTED UNTIL ELECTION OFFICIALS CAN PROVE HE DID NOT VOTE BY MAIL. THOUGH IT WOULD BE LOGISTICALLY EASIER TO REGISTER TO VOTE HERE IN CENTRAL NEW YORK, FITZPATRICK DECIDED TO REGISTER AT HOME. A POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR SAYS HE UNDERSTANDS WHY MANY STUDENTS DECIDE TO REGISTER IN THEIR HOME-TOWNS.

Grant Reeher: “Given the age that students are at and given the life experiences that students have, they are more likely to be better versed and more connected to their hometowns. It probably makes more sense for most students to vote back home.”

Weiss: DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, MANY MORE VOTERS ARE RELYING ON VOTING ABSENTEE OR MAIL-IN FOR SAFETY REASONS. EVEN THOUGH ABSENTEE VOTING CAUSED PROBLEMS FOR FITZPATRICK, HE SAYS HE HAS NOT LOST FAITH IN THE SYSTEM.

Fitzpatrick: “States have been doing it for a long time now. This is not a new occurrence.”

Weiss: FITZPATRICK WILL USING A FLIGHT VOUCHER TO COVER HIS FLIGHT HOME, TRYING TO ENSURE HIS VOICE WILL BE HEARD IN TEXAS ON ELECTION DAY. ALLISON WEISS, N-C-C- NEWS.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS) — One Syracuse University junior is so adamant to have his voice heard on Election Day that he is flying to his home of Dallas, Texas, to cast his ballot. Chase Fitzpatrick has been preparing for Election Day since he started an internship at a congressional campaign over the summer. He calls voters in the 24th District of Texas to ask them to vote for candidate Candace Valenzuela and to encourage them to vote early.

However, Fitzpatrick’s own attempts to vote early have proved unsuccessful. He applied for an absentee ballot over a month and a half ago and it has still not arrived. When he called the Dallas County election office, they told him his ballot was in transit to Syracuse. When he inquired again, they told him he had to write a hand-written note to re-apply for a ballot. However,  shortly after that they told him the hand-written note would not be enough. So, he decided not to let the short-comings with the mail stop him from doing his civic duty.

“I have made the decision to fly home and vote in person. Hopefully my ballot shows up in person, so I do not have to vote provisionally, but I’ll nonetheless feel good that I made the effort to vote,” Fitzpatrick said.

If Fitzpatrick receives his ballot before Election Day, he would be able to fly home with the ballot and deliver it to a ballot box in person. However if he does not receive it before Election Day, he would have to vote in person and fill out a provisional ballot. This means that his vote will not be counted on Election Day and will only be counted when the election officials can prove he did not also vote by mail.

Though it would be logistically easier to register to vote in Syracuse, Fitzpatrick decided to register to vote at home. He made this decision because he thinks his vote would make more of a difference in Texas, and he wants to vote for the candidate he is passionate about. Syracuse University political science professor Grant Reeher said he understands why many students decide to register in their home-towns.

“Given the age that students are and given the life experiences that students have, they are more likely to be better versed and more connected to their hometowns. It probably makes more sense for most students to vote back home,” Reeher said.

Many more voters are relying on voting absentee or mail-in this election due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the New York Times, 947,000 voters in Texas have already sent in their absentee ballots. Not only are people relying on absentee voting if they are living somewhere other than their hometowns but they are also relying on mail-in voting for safety reasons. Even though absentee voting has caused a number of problems for Fitzpatrick, he said he has not lost faith in the system.

“States have been doing it for a long time now. This is not a new occurrence,” Fitzpatrick said. “With the nature of the  COVID pandemic it was an opportunity to make voting more accessible to people.”

Though flying from Syracuse to Texas could be a costly endeavor, Fitzpatrick is using a flight voucher from a previously cancelled flight to cover one of his two flights. Clearly, he is doing everything he can to ensure his voice is heard on Election Day in Texas.

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