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?
First, students must be registered to vote and meet the eligibility requirements. You can find your state’s requirements here. To register 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 (Duval County for UNF), any local library, or any entity authorized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to issue fishing, hunting, or trapping permits.
If you’re looking to stay close to campus, head to the library on campus and print out the PDF available here or drive to the Jacksonville public library and pick one up there.
UNF is in Duval County so if you are registered to vote in Duval, 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 register to vote in Jacksonville. 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.
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 Duval County, there are several early voting sites:
Adam Herbert University Center on campus
Jacksonville Public Library
Pablo Creek Regional Library
Regency Square Branch Library
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.
For additional UNF voting information, click here.
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:
Sarah Toth, UNF intern