With less than two weeks before Election Day, Binghamton University students must decide whether to vote in person or to vote early and ensure their personal safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specific early voting times vary from county to county, and students registered outside of Broome County should check with their local board of elections for early voting hours and locations. Early voting in New York runs from Oct. 24 to Nov. 1. More information on Broome County’s early voting hours can be found at broomevotes.com/earlyvoting.

Alison Twang, associate director of the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), discussed the various voting services available to BU students offered by the CCE, as well as where to vote. There are four early voting locations for registered student voters in Broome County. According to Twang, the Oakdale Mall in Johnson City and the Broome County Public Library in Downtown Binghamton are the most accessible by transit. The other voting locations are George F. Johnson Memorial Library in Endicott and the Taste of New York Building at the Cornell Cooperative Extension on Upper Front Street in Binghamton.

This year, students who are registered to vote with their current campus address will vote in person at the Events Center from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Election Day. Students will have to enter through the main doors of the Events Center. Then, they will be directed down to the floor to vote and will exit at the lower level to avoid crowding.

Caitlin Rameas, an undeclared freshman, said she believes it is important to vote, particularly in this year’s election.

“I think it’s especially important to vote this year because the presidential election is occurring, and the government is greatly impacted by whoever wins this race,” Rameas said.

Voters who wish to avoid the crowded polls on Election Day can still exercise their vote through mail-in ballots or early voting.

The deadline for voters requesting an absentee ballot by mail, email or web portal is Oct. 27. Students can request their absentee ballot by emailing their request form to their local board of elections, filling out and mailing the physical form through the CCE or through New York’s online request portal at https://absenteeballot.elections.ny.gov/.

The deadline for postmarking mail-in absentee ballots is Nov. 3, and it must be received by the board of elections by Nov. 10.

According to Twang, the CCE offers numerous services to help new student voters.

“The CCE runs a comprehensive, nonpartisan voter engagement program that supports students in all stages of the voting process, including registering to vote, requesting an absentee ballot, learning about who is on the ballot and accessing the information on where, when and how to vote,” Twang said.

The CCE is located at UU-137 on campus, next to the Marketplace. Walk-in hours are currently being held Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Walk-in hours are held in-person and socially distanced. Other meetings are available by appointment only.

When it comes to mail-in ballots, Twang recommends that students carefully read the ballot instructions and do not use tape to seal the security or return envelopes.

Jake Shapiro, an undeclared freshman, urged voters to cast their ballots considering the current state of politics.

“With the upcoming election taking place this November, it’s more important than ever to speak out against the growing injustice America faces,” Shapiro said. “Since the election of President Trump, America has become the farthest thing from great. However, it has been further divided due to racial and sexual injustice. Voting offers us as American citizens the opportunity to elect leaders we believe will change our communities and nation for the better. Your vote this presidential election is vital to restore unity to our nation and protect the rights of every American citizen.”