Many Seton Hall students who have never voted before in a presidential election will have a chance to change that when voting booths open on Nov. 8.
Professors and senior students who were eligible to vote in 2012 shared their previous voting experiences and offered tips to the first-time voters at SHU.
First-time voters may be confused about where to vote. Dr. Matthew Hale, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs, said that each municipality has several different districts and where you vote is based on where you live. Districts may include several different precincts or wards.
The Beck Rooms in the Walsh Library serve as the polling site for South Orange residents, said Karen Van Norman, associate vice president and dean of students, via an email. She added that students who are registered to vote as residents of South Orange will vote in Walsh.
Students who are registered to vote in South Orange but find that their names are not on the registration list can ask to cast a provisional ballot.
A provisional ballot records a vote when questions arise about a voter’s eligibility.
Roseanne Mirabella, a professor of Political Science and Public Affairs, recommended that students become knowledgeable about the candidates and questions before going to vote. This year the two questions on the New Jersey ballot cover allowing gambling in two additional cities and dedicating all revenue from gas taxes to transportation projects.
“The [sample] ballot [students who are voting receive in the mail] comes with a description of the questions. You have to do some research to really understand what your vote means,” Mirabella said.
Mirabella said students should read more than what is on social media.
“Maybe read the newspaper, look at the editorials,” Mirabella added. Mirabella also recommended students research the questions on the ballot beforehand.
“I was the first group of 18 year olds to be allowed to vote. So it was actually very exciting,” she said. “It was an independent experience for me because it was the first time I realized I had a unique voice. I saw it as quite a responsibility because beforehand people could only vote at 21 [years old],” Mirabella said.
Amendment XXVI of the Constitution went into effect on July 1, 1971, allowing 18-year-olds to vote for the first time. Mirabella voted in the 1972 presidential election. The candidates in that election were Republican President Richard Nixon and Democratic nominee Sen. George McGovern.
Mirabella said that she voted for Nixon while her parents opted for McGovern. She encouraged students to not vote for candidates based solely on their party.
“Don’t just go down a party line. Become informed about all the candidates to the best of your ability because there are many different shades of people in these parties,” Mirabella said.
Having voted in the last election, Jeffrey Dattilo, a senior marketing major, said students should know who they are voting for.
“Once you get in it’s pretty straight forward,” Dattilo said. “My first time I just walked in, told them my name and then walked into the booth and pushed a button.”
Adrianna Bertoldi, a senior nursing major, also voted in the last election.
“I was actually super nervous to vote at first. I was excited to finally have a say in who will lead our country, but it was a new independence I wasn’t used to at the time,” Bertoldi said. She added that students should be confident in their choice.
“A big issue for me too was getting pressure on who to vote for from friends and family, but as long as you stay informed with the candidates and you believe in their ideas, you’re set,” Bertoldi said.
Alexandra Gale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.