How to Have Your Vote Count While at College, Register!
For students in a new city adapting to a busy college schedule, the voting process can seem daunting. As an 18-year-old freshman, I didn’t even know where to begin to register or where to go to vote! With an election year coming up, taking the time to go to the polls and vote is more important than ever. So, how can you do it?
Your vote counts. FSU‘s Initiative “Garnet & Gold Votes” is the place to go for all things voting-related for Seminoles. They offer a variety of information from registering to vote to where to vote on election day, including information for students who are residents of Florida, as well as those out of state. Seminoles who are residents of Florida and are not already registered to vote should start by visit here. For out of state students, they should refer to vote for tips on how to register for their state.
If you prefer to fill out the form in person, there are more places than you think to grab one. It’s available for download or available at any County Supervisor of Elections (Leon County for UCF), any local library, or any entity authorized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to issue fishing, hunting, or trapping permits. Any registered Florida voter can fill out an absentee ballot and vote by mail. To request an absentee ballot, you can verify your registration here. If you would like to change your address and register as a voter in Leon County, then it is the same process as registering to vote. All you need to do is change the address section to your current Tallahassee address. Read through everything carefully to make sure the forms are correct to ensure that your vote is counted!
FSU is in Leon County so if you are registered to vote in Leon, there really is not much to do. But, many students choose to keep their permanent address on their voter registration. Those students registered in a different county will have to travel to the county where they’re registered or request an absentee ballot to have their vote count. College students should consider if the local issues in their registered county are important to them, the ease of getting an absentee ballot and how important it is to have their vote counted.
An absentee ballot, or a “vote by mail” ballot is an option for those who aren’t or don’t want to be registered to vote in Tallahassee. The vote by mail ballot allows voters to receive their ballot by mail instead of having to go to the polls and vote in person. There is a deadline to request an absentee ballot, so this is an option for anyone looking to take care of their vote ahead of time.
The deadline to request a ballot be mailed to you is no later than 5 pm on the 6th day before the election, and the ballot must be received back no later than 7 pm on Election day, or else the vote won’t count! We did hear of many college students whose absentee ballots did not get counted in the last Presidential election. We do not recommend waiting too long to request an absentee ballot and mail it back. Absentee ballots can be requested on the county Supervisor of Elections website, in writing, by telephone, or in person to the Supervisor of Elections.
Early voting is also an option for college students. Many counties open up early voting locations so if your student will be home during this period of time, they can cast their vote there. For students registered in Leon County, there are several early voting sites. FSU has polling options on campus. All I had to do was bring my ID and I was ready to go. FSU promotes their voting options closer to the election dates, but they always have options on campus. They make it very easy for students to cast their vote!
If your student is studying abroad, they should request their absentee ballot several months in advance. Click here for assistance in requesting that information for Florida. For those residing in another state, use the Usa.gov website. To register to vote or update your information in Florida, click here. And, for county-specific election information, click the links below to access each Florida county’s Board of Elections.
For more information on county-specific election information, as well as local elections and relevant ballot measures, please click the links below to access each Florida county’s Board of Elections:
For students who are interested in taking their political affiliation a step further, consider one of the many clubs and associations that FSU has to offer for those passionate in political affairs. The Student Government Association offers elections in both the Fall and Spring semesters. Additionally, there are countless SGA agencies including – The Asian American Student Union, Pride Student Union, Black Student Union, Veterans Student Union, Hispanic/Latino Student Union, and The Women Student Union.
A more recent political party, The Amplify Movement, caught a great deal of attention during the spring semester when their platform for a grassroots movement caused a bandwagon effect across campus including, but not limited to, the Amplify Movement, The Unite Party, and Legacy. Since then, many FSU students have immersed themselves in the various political parties on campus.
“College Democrats at FSU” and “The College Republicans of Florida State University” are both two very popular political party clubs associated with FSU that are acknowledged for their promotion of relations with their associated political parties. They provide voter registrations details to students, internships, conferences, campaign experience, and training workshops. So, whether you are looking for tips on how to register as a student voter or how to prepare for your future Presidential campaign – FSU’s associations and organizations have you covered!
Avery Hinchman, Intern, HaveUHeard