How To Have Your Vote Count While At College
With the elections slowly creeping upon us, it is important to make sure that students register to vote in this upcoming election year. You are able to register online as long as you provide either your driver’s license number or the last four digits of your social security number.
You can check your voter registration status by downloading a sample ballot at the Orange County Supervisor of Elections website. If you are already registered to vote, but your address no longer matches, then you can fill in an absentee ballot or change your address to register in Orange County.
If you are not registered to vote in Florida, you must fill out a new registration form online at RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov, by mail or in person. 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 (Orange 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 Orange County, then it is the same process as registering to vote. All you need to do is change the address section to your current Orlando address. Read through everything carefully to make sure the forms are correct to ensure that your vote is counted!
UCF is in Orange County so if you are registered to vote in Orange, 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 Orlando. 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 the 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.
Register for Early Voting
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 Orange County, there are several early voting sites. UCF has polling options on campus. The first time I have ever registered as a voter, I voted at the local Orlando Public Library just 10 minutes from campus. Then I heard that UCF has early voting polls on campus as well. Back in 2018, I went to the Live Oak Event Center on campus and voted early with barely any line! They had my old dorm address and it took me less than a minute to change my address with them before I went to the polls. All I had to do was bring my ID and I was ready to go. UCF 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:
Shelly Massre, UCF Intern