Happy election season!
As a first-year in college, November likely marks the first time you are able to vote in a major election if you’re an American citizen. And if you’re anything like me, you can’t wait to exercise your civic duty and cast your ballot. But how exactly are you supposed to do that?
Many students get to college and aren’t sure how they should vote. Colleges are supposed to be your home for four years, but do you actually legally reside there? Should you vote as a resident of your college, or back home? Here are four tips to make sure your vote counts as a college student.
1. Decide where to register as a voter
It’s true, college is your temporary home for four years. But that doesn’t mean you have to register to vote there. As a college student, you have the right to register to vote at either your college address or your permanent home address. And wherever you choose to register, the whole process takes less than two minutes!
Should I vote at college?
As a student at the University of Rochester, you’ll be a resident of the city of Rochester, Monroe County, and New York for the majority of the next four years. So if you want to have a say in the decisions being made that will impact your new community, you may want to register to vote in Rochester. Additionally, to participate in the Election Inspectors program you must be registered to vote in Monroe County. If you do choose to register to vote in Rochester, make sure you use 500 Joseph C. Wilson Blvd., Rochester, NY 14627 as your address and don’t forget to include your CMC Box # to receive official election mail.
Should I vote at home?
While registering to vote at college is convenient, you may want to consider registering at home if you live in a swing state or district. Rochester and New York typically vote consistently Democratic in most races, so a vote at home may have more influence on the outcome of an election. Keep in mind that registration deadlines vary from state to state if you’re registering to vote at home, and you’ll have to request an absentee ballot if you can’t make it home to vote in person.
See more below on how to officially register to vote.
2. Get informed
Before you go out and cast your ballot, you should do some research about the candidates you’ll be choosing between. A great resource online is www.ballotready.org which will let you build a personalized ballot after reviewing all of the candidates. Be sure to also stay informed by keeping up with your favorite news source. I also recommend following a few journalists on Twitter to get unfiltered coverage of political news.
3. Get prepared
If you’re registered to vote at college, this means looking up your polling site ahead of time and planning out a time on Election Day to head over and cast your ballot. Remember that polls close at 9 pm in New York so be sure to head over well before then. If you’re voting at home, make sure to request your absentee ballot on time and send it back before your state’s deadline. See more below on absentee ballot information.
4. Stay engaged
Don’t let your civic engagement end on Election Day! Your voice is just as powerful as your vote in politics. Election Day is just the beginning, and being an engaged citizen means staying involved even after the polls close. Check out organizations on campus like College Republicans and College Democrats, as well as the non-partisan Committee for Political Engagement. Get more information on what to do beyond Election Day.
For more information on registering to vote, absentee ballots, and more, visit www.vote.org.
Did You Know? Voting is kind of a big deal in Rochester. Susan B. Anthony, women’s rights activist who played a pivotal role in the women’s suffrage movement, was originally from Rochester.