Making out-of-state student votes count

Nicole Stempak identifies the nation’s swing state

Out-of-state students may have more of a say in the upcoming presidential election than in-state students.

A new Web site,, shows college students where their vote will count more. According to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Symm v. U.S., students have the right to vote in either their home state or school state.

“College students are in the unique position of being able to vote in their school state or their home state, and helps them figure out where their vote makes more impact” said Matt Lerner, chief technology officer for Front Seat, a civic software company and incubator. Front Seat launched in September. factored in the 2004 election results and the number of electoral votes to determine where students should vote and the most important swing states.

According to the Web sites, the two most important states in the upcoming presidential election are Ohio and Colorado.

“Every vote in Ohio really matters,” Lerner said. “In terms of the outcome of the election, voting in a swing state is what swings the election.”

Richard Robyn, assistant political science professor, explained that while all states are important for their electoral votes, swing states are more important because of their unpredictability.

Robyn said he wonders why students, given the choice, wouldn’t want to vote in a battleground state like Ohio.

Robyn explains the difference between a student who attends school in Ohio, which has 20 electoral votes but lives in West Virginia, which has 5 electoral votes.

“If it comes down to a 50-50, and he (the candidate) wins Ohio by one vote, you could just claim that your vote was the one vote that had the most impact in the election,” he said.

Jena Stout, junior public relations major, said she never heard of but thinks it would be helpful for out-of-state students. Stout will cast her vote as an absentee in California but wishes she could vote in Ohio.

“My vote doesn’t really count for much in California because there’s like 80 billion people,” she said.

Katie Staniero, sophomore middle childhood education major, said she lived in Montana for a few years but reregistered for on-campus voting.

“I never really thought or considered that my vote would be worth more, having two different states to choose from,” she said.

Contact student politics reporter Nicole Stempak at [email protected].