Credit: Kate Karson | Mustang News

This election cycle, more students are voting by mail than voting at the polls. 

In a survey Mustang News randomly distributed to 850 students, 102 students responded, detailing how they plan to vote this year. 

96.1% of students that were surveyed planned on voting during this election season, and 81.2% of students planned to vote by mail. 

Computer science senior Bobby Boyd is one of the students who have planned to vote by mail. 

“I don’t really want to go to a polling place due to COVID-19,” Boyd said. 

Boyd said that there were record numbers of people voting through the mail this year, and for that reason, state election officials will have to figure out how to count them all in a timely manner. 

“I’m fine with the result being a few weeks late if it means that everyone gets counted,” Boyd said. 

Computer science senior Jack Kooley votes through the mail regularly because it gives him more time to research and make informed decisions. 

“I get more time to research. I like doing a lot of research before I vote. It’s just something that I personally believe in … actually understanding the policies you’re voting for and what the pros and cons of each would be,” Kooley said.

However, some students, like aerospace engineering senior Alexi Derkatsch, do not trust the vote-by-mail ballot process.

“I am not trusting any mail-in ballot,” Derkatsch said. “It seems like I need to be there.”

Only 14.9% of the students who responded to the survey planned to vote in-person this year. 

Journalism sophomore Jillian Butler decided to fill out her ballot at home and then walk into a polling place where she would drop off her ballot. 

“I trust that it is the safest way to ensure that my vote actually gets counted,” Butler said. 

She said that she has seen media coverage about the Republican Party setting up fake ballot boxes, which makes her nervous to use a drop-box outside of a polling center. 

Butler said she imagines that polling centers will have strict guidelines regarding COVID-19 safety. 

“If Trader Joe’s can space out their lines, I’m sure polling places can,” Butler said. 

Butler said that so much voter suppression occurs and has occurred in the United States and worldwide. Because of this, she considers her vote a privilege. 

“Women have fought so hard to gain suffrage and I feel like it would be a waste of all their efforts if I didn’t exercise my right to go out and vote.” 

Electrical engineering senior Sophia Stockburger said that it is important to participate in making the country a better place for people through voting. 

“I’m someone whose basic human rights can be up for grabs in political situations,” Stockburger said. 

The survey revealed that Cal Poly students are specifically passionate about climate change, racial inequality and COVID-19. 

Although voting may seem different this year to some, this has not stopped students like Kooley from going out and making their voices heard.

“My voice does matter like everyone else’s voice does matter — your opinions matter,” Kooley said. “All of the things and the policies that get enacted affect me regardless of whether or not they seem like they do.” 

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