“Being Electoral in College” by Chris Hope

“Being Electoral in College” by Chris Hope

It’s primary election season, and even in Redding, you could tell. A group of us watched February’s Ninth Democratic Debate in the lounge, and I watched the results of Super Tuesday come in alongside some others in the lounge. All of this election talk had me thinking about the resources available to us as college students when it comes to voting.

I registered to vote during the first month or so of my first semester; my state, Pennsylvania, has an easy way of registering to vote online. While methods of voter registration vary by state, you can find ways to register for a party or to vote in your state specifically on https://vote.gov/. In my case, I received an email a week or two after registering that let me know that it successfully went through. 

For out-of-state students like myself, and even those in-state who can’t make it home, absentee ballots are how we make our vote heard. Registering for an absentee ballot is different than registering to vote or registering as a party-member in multiple ways. There are steps to the process of absentee voting; in the first week of the semester, I registered to take part in the primary. As a Pennsylvanian, it involved me going onto the state’s voter website and providing info as to where my district is, my identification, and my reasoning for absentee voting. Absentee voting can be utilized by those stuck at work on election day, those who can’t leave home, or (in my case) those away from home for a while, such as at college. About a week after applying for my absentee ballot, I got an email letting me know that my application was approved and that my ballot would eventually be mailed to me. My application was approved in late February, and Pennsylvania’s primary isn’t until late April, so I didn’t expect to receive it too soon.

Unfortunately, due to the shift to online classes and going off-campus, I never got my absentee ballot for the primaries; however, I did receive an absentee ballot for my city’s local elections last semester. The process of absentee voting is simple; you have a paper with the different candidates, their positions, and even some bill proposals. After you fill that out, you place your ballot into the provided envelope, buy some stamps and put one on it, and mail it off. These instructions are also usually provided on the ballot.

With the ongoing primaries and upcoming November general elections, knowing how to vote from college can be extremely helpful. Thankfully, there’s much more information available online and on-campus about this topic. Google is helpful for many general questions and for finding your state’s website and voter information, and the on-campus group Make It Count aims to “challenge apathy and inspire a culture of civic engagement through voter engagement drives, facilitated discourse, and educational programming” while organizing events with TurboVote. You can find information about their meetings and email inquiries at https://studentcentral.udel.edu/organization/makeitcount.

Voting is one of many ways we as citizens can take part in change, and resources for young voters can often be scarce. Stay safe over the rest of the semester and stay informed!

Image source: https://www.delawarepublic.org/post/national-voter-registration-day-ud-students-sign

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