Do you hear that? What is it? It can’t be…it’s the overwhelming sound of differing voting opinions and choices getting louder and more angry! It’s time to vote!
Welp, if you’re reading this, that means you’re a college or university student, away from home, and stuck during a global pandemic. It also means that November is slowly approaching, and you’ve got to think how the heck you’re going to go to the polls if you have class. Who wants to miss something that they paid for?
All of that aside, it’s time to start brainstorming. Luckily, we’re here to help you out in your voting journey. Here’s five easy ways to vote while you’re at school.
Keep in mind this is purely US centric. If you’re in another country, be sure to look up your country’s laws and voter regulations beforehand.
Make 100% Sure That You’re Registered
Most students are usually registered by the time they’re 18 years old, or by the time they enter college. If you’re one of the ones who hasn’t had the time to go get registered to vote, this is your wakeup call.
Yes, we’re rushing you to get registered to vote.
If you want to be able to have a say in your democracy on who rules over you, then you have to make sure you’re registered. It’s one of the cool things about turning 18! You can register to vote at your town’s DMV, or even do it online.
Now, why are we telling you to “make sure” that you’re registered? Sometimes, states like to do this fun thing every once in a while: purge inactive voters. Yeah, it’s really fun. So to make sure you haven’t been wiped off the voter registration list before the big election, check in with sites like Vote.org to confirm whether or not you’re still registered.
Otherwise, you may have to re-register, or fill out a provisional ballot the day of. Which isn’t bad, but it’s a bit more tedious.
Click the image to go to Vote.org and check your registration!
Check your State’s Voter Laws and Requirements
Each state varies with their voter laws and requirements.
For example, in California, you need:
- to be fully registered to vote
- be 18 years old or older before or on Election Day
- be a US citizen
- not currently be in federal state prison or on parole
- not be currently found to be mentally incompetent to vote by a court
Now, those are the voting requirements in California. It could be different in any other state, so it’s imperative that you check that before Election Day. If you don’t look these up, then you’ll be caught with your pants down, wondering why they won’t let you vote.
Watch for Deadlines, and Know Your Rights
Many websites showcase a comprehensive list of deadlines to follow before Election Day. Again, Vote.org is a great resource for this kind of information, so be sure to follow the link found here to look up the deadlines for the US.
Right when you enter the site, they have a big list of states and when their deadlines are. Go on, don’t be shy!
When we say know your voter rights, we mean it. Here’s some good voter tips to follow.
Do not leave your place in line; as long as you’re still there, ready to vote, then you’ll be able to get your ballot in. If you leave your line, there will not be a guarantee that you’ll be able to vote.
In some states, if you fill out a provisional ballot at the wrong polling place, the state may not count it. That’s another reason why were pressuring you to go out there and get registered to vote! Try to fill out a regular ballot!
These are just the basics. Here’s a longer list of your voter rights.
Check Out Political Candidates Beforehand
You’ll need to be prepared to figure out who you’re going to vote for before the Big Day. It’s kind of like a test, except you won’t be graded, and you’re the teacher. You have to teach yourself who’s who, and who you’re going to be voting for.
If you can, try to catch up on any news about political candidates. Yeah, it’s going to be draining, but be sure to take your time with it. Look up articles, websites, debates, anything you can that showcases the presidential candidates beliefs and what they’re fighting for.
If they’re fighting to end abortion, then make a note of that. If they’re all for banning conversion therapy, make a note of that. If they’re for Black Lives Matter, make a note of that.
Regardless of what political party you belong to or voting in, what’s important is getting all the facts, and making sure that you’re voting smart.
Fill Out an Absentee Ballot
There’s two ways to go about this. You go to your classes, and don’t vote. Or, you skip class to vote. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Except, you can with an absentee ballot!
If you’re not going to be available during Election Day, like at all, then be sure to fill out an absentee ballot. Absentee voting is when you vote via mail-in ballot. This is usually done before Election Day, s0 this is another thing to remember with deadlines.
In some states, you’ll need a good excuse for not voting on Election Day to qualify for an absentee ballot. In others, there isn’t an excuse; this means that any voter can put in an absentee ballot, even if they’re perfectly capable of voting on that day.
Again, rules differ between states. Here’s a way to know your absentee voter rules so you can be confident that you’re voting the right way, in any US state.
*BONUS TIP: Go Out There and Vote!
Here’s a bonus tip! Just go out there and go to your designated polling place!
If you miss the deadline for an absentee ballot (don’t worry, we won’t judge!), then try your hardest to go to your polling place and vote. Try to work it out with your teachers that day, and get them to understand.
We’re guesstimating, but 8 times out of 10, they’ll let you off the hook. 1) Because it’s college, you’re an adult, and they trust you and 2) they’ll also probably cancel class so that they can get to their polling place in time to vote.
Just try to find a compromise in case you’re not able to make the absentee ballot deadline.
No matter how you do it, voting is a great thing that allows anyone to be part of their democracy and help shape the world into a better place. Don’t let anyone convince you that voting isn’t going to do anything; voting, whether it’s for a presidential candidate or for a new park in your hometown, does accomplish many great things. Happy voting!
Will you be heading to the polls this upcoming election? Comment down below and let us know!
Featured Image: https://unsplash.com/photos/v0OWc_skg0g
Hi! My name is Carolina Cisneros, and I am a new intern at Society 19. I’m so glad to have this opportunity! I have an Associates in Studio Art, and I will be heading into university for Cinematic Arts and Technologies. I plan to go into the animation industry, designing characters and bringing more diversity into the world. For now, I’m building my skills. Thank you for reading!