Niche Resources
Niche Resources
Niche Resources

Your Guide To Voting As A College Student

College-aged voters make up a significant portion of the electorate, with millennials and Gen Z forming the largest share of eligible voters this year. These young Americans are passionate about shaping their future—the Harvard Institute of Politics’ Spring 2019 poll revealed that a majority of surveyed voters are seeking action concerning gun control, climate change, and college affordability. While voting is not the only way to enact political change in these areas, it’s an essential step for those who are able.

 

If you’re of college age, there’s a chance you may be a first-time voter. Voting as a college student is easier than ever, so read on to find out how you can make your voice heard this November!

 

IF YOU’RE ATTENDING COLLEGE IN-STATE (THE SAME STATE AS YOUR PERMANENT RESIDENCE)…

 

You will register to vote in that same state. Doing so will allow you to vote in person, meaning you’ll visit a designated polling place on Election Day to cast your ballot. A Pennsylvania resident attending Penn State, for instance, should register to vote in Pennsylvania. However, you can still request an absentee ballot to vote by mail in your home state. 17 U.S. states require excuses to do so, but 28 do not; all 50, however, will mail a ballot to you under certain conditions. So, if you’re living in-state but are unable to visit your local polling place, you should still be able to vote! If you are voting from an in-state college, you can change your address to your college address instead of requesting an absentee ballot if you can’t make it to your home polling location and want to vote in person.

 

IF YOU’RE ATTENDING COLLEGE OUT-OF-STATE (A DIFFERENT STATE THAN THE ONE IN WHICH YOUR PERMANENT RESIDENCE IS LOCATED)…

 

You have the option of registering to vote in either your home state or the state in which you attend college. However, you cannot be registered in both states at once. 

 

If you decide to register to vote in your home state, you will be voting as an absentee. An absentee voter will receive their ballot at their out-of-state address and return it by mail. So, a Pennsylvania resident attending college in New York can register as an absentee Pennsylvania voter, thus receiving their Pennsylvania ballot at their New York college address. 

 

If you decide to vote in your college state, you can vote in person at a polling location. Our Pennsylvania resident at a New York school, then, would visit a venue somewhere in New York on Election Day to vote. Or, you can still vote absentee, either with an excuse or without—depending on where you live. 

When and How to Vote in all 50 States

SO HOW DO I GET MY ABSENTEE BALLOT?

 

As previously stated, individual states set different, specific rules about the use of absentee ballots. Typically, you will visit your desired state’s election agency website to submit a formal request. This request process is relatively quick and requires basic personal and residence information. To review the rules in your state, visit Vote.org’s Absentee Voting Rules page. 

 

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW AS A STUDENT?

 

Your voter registration DOES NOT affect your federal financial aid package or your in-state/out-of-state tuition status. Additionally, individual states set different residency requirements for voters. 17 states require their voters to have lived there for at least 30 days prior to the election, which means that if an election is occurring soon after you move in, you may not want to change your registration to your college state. Review residency rules by state here. 

 

HOW DO I REGISTER?

 

Go to Vote.gov! Here, you can register to vote online (available for 39 states and the District of Columbia), as well as locate resources for states that do not offer online registration.You can also register in person at your state or local election office—availability may vary due to COVID-19. 

 

WHEN DO I NEED TO REGISTER BY?

 

Voter registration deadlines vary from state to state, and also depend on whether you’re registering in person or by mail. Typically, you must register 15 to 30 days before Election Day occurs; if voting by mail, your registration must be postmarked 15 to 30 days before. Additionally, absentee voters should know that it is extremely important to request ballots well before Election Day. You want to account for any delays and give yourself plenty of time to review and return the forms. 

 

Be sure to check out this in-depth guide on when and how to vote in all 50 states!

 

Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020, which means that those October registration deadlines are quickly approaching! The day will arrive before you know it, so make sure to double-check your state’s dates here. Happy voting!

 

Register to Vote!

Author: Julianna Chen

Julianna Chen is currently in her first year at Emory University, where she studies creative writing and Chinese. She is the managing editor of Lithium Magazine and a contributing writer for Adolescent.net. When not writing, she is watching a movie or eating a stroopwafel, sometimes both at the same time.