7 Questions All College Students Have About Voting—Answered

September 23, 2019

7 questions about voting

Get Your Squad To The Polls!

Being a college student isn’t easy, not with a million different things vying for your attention. Where to live, what classes to take, who to date, when to go out, when to sleep in, how many pints of Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz to keep in the freezer to fuel your next all-nighter…

And then there’s politics. Every politician loves to talk about how students are the hope of the future—but if that’s the case, then why do so many seem intent on making it harder for students to vote?

Voting SHOULD be easy and hassle-free, but since it’s not, we want to provide answers to some of your most pressing voting questions. Election Day is coming soon, so this is the perfect time to make sure you’re registered and ready to have your voice heard. And the more of you who show up at the polls, the louder your voice will be. Speak loudly enough, and no politician will be able to ignore the issues that matter to you the most!

Q: How do I know where and when to vote?

A: Next year, Election Day falls on November 3, 2020. This will be a presidential election, so the big national campaigns for the White House have been getting most of the attention, but there are also any number of state and local contests and issues vying for your vote on that day. Where and when you can vote varies depending on where you live, which can definitely be confusing, especially considering all the other details (midterms, anyone?) you’re trying to cram into your brains. That’s why TurboVote is so cool. Sign up and you’ll get reminders customized for you! TurboVote keeps track of local and national elections and makes sure that you have all the information you need to register and vote.                                                                                                                                        

Q: I go to school in a different state from my hometown. Where do I need to vote?

A: It’s your right to vote wherever you consider your “home.” If you want to vote where you attend school, you can. If you’d rather vote at home, then you can either make sure to be there on Election Day or arrange for an absentee ballot. Check out the Brennan Center’s Student Voting Guide for help navigating the residency laws, which differ state by state.

Q: What do I need to bring on voting day? I keep hearing a lot about voter ID laws.

A: It’s true, many states have been passing laws that require citizens to present specific forms of ID before being allowed to vote. (This often makes it harder for students, African Americans, the elderly and others who are less likely to have IDs to vote.) Confusingly, each state has different ID requirements. TurboVote can help you find out what ID you need, but you can also check out this awesome interactive map, or this one that tells you whether student IDs can be used as identification at polling stations where you live.

Q: When do I have to register to vote? Can I register and vote on the same day?

A: It depends! Check out this handy chart to see a state-by-state breakdown of registration deadlines. Some states allow you to register on the same day you vote, whereas others require you to do so a month in advance. Unfortunately, rather than making it easier to vote, some states are making it harder: and some are even rolling back same-day registration programs that were already on the books! If you sign up with TurboVote, you’ll get customized info on every subject related to the election.

Are you registered to vote?

Check your status here and get registered today!

Q: How can I help to get other students involved?

A: Your enthusiasm can be contagious in helping to make Election Day a big deal with your fellow students. Here are a few ways you could help build the buzz and get people involved.

  • Plan an Election Day party! C’mon, who doesn’t want a reason to party on a Tuesday?
  • Talk with your Student Government Association or other campus organization about a Get Out the Vote event.
  • Make your campus an early voting location. Your Student Government Association could point you in the right direction..
  • Write letters to your student newspaper encouraging participation and combatting apathy. Your voice is more persuasive than all the talking heads out there.  
  • Talk about it: invite your friends over for some Empower Mint and talk about how all of us can help repair our broken democracy. Take it from us, ice cream can be very inspiring!

Q: How can I make sure everyone’s voice is heard in the election this November?

A: Besides getting out to vote yourself, you can help remove barriers to voting that other Americans may face, which would make our representative democracy truly representative. One way to do this is signing the petition to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act. The VRA ensures that voting is equally accessible, regardless of an individual’s race, income, or background!

Q: Why does my vote matter?

A: Elections often come down to a surprisingly small number of votes. “Every vote counts” sounds like a cliché—but it also happens to be very true. Beyond that, though, if you don’t vote, then you don’t get a seat at the table when policies are being developed. People ages 18-29 represent about 21% of the eligible voting population, but turnout in this age range has been low, way too low. Think about the revolution that could sweep states and the nation if young people showed up and voted! This is the year to get out there and make a difference.

Feeling certain your vote matters and ready to get out to the polls? Take a minute and register to vote now, and be sure to share with your friends. 

Are you registered to vote?

Check your status here and get registered today!