#RockTheVote: Your Guide to Voting in This Year’s Elections

Voting shouldn’t be complicated. But between voter registration deadlines, primary elections, general elections, mail-in ballots and more, exercising your rights as a college student can feel like walking through a minefield. You might have a lot of questions about voting in this year’s elections and you might not even know where to start. Don’t worry - Her Campus is here to help!

Courtesy: Arnaud Jaegers on Unsplash

About The Elections

This year, threeseparate elections are being held in Florida: the Presidential Preference Primary Election (Mar. 17), the Primary Election (Aug. 18) and the General Election (Nov. 3).  

The Presidential Preference Primary (PPP) is exactly what it sounds like: a vote to decide which Presidential candidates will appear on the General Election ballot in November.

The Primary Election in August is just as important as the PPP since many state, county and Tallahassee offices will be up for grabs. Some examples include Florida House and Senate seats, district court positions and other local offices like the Leon County School Board.

Besides the obvious Presidential race, the November General Election will have a handful of proposed state laws that you can vote for or against. Other state and national offices will also be up for election on this ballot.

The Presidential Preference Primary Election and the Primary Election are both closed primaries, which means voters must declare a political party along with their voter registration to vote. This also means that you’ll only be able to vote for candidates that represent your party on the ballot.

Courtesy: Phil Roeder

Registrating To Vote

Register To Vote Florida is your one-stop-shop for in-state voting!

First, decide whether you want to vote in your home county’s elections or Leon County’s elections. If you want to vote in your home county, you can use your home address to register, but you’ll have to request mail-in ballots for every election that you won’t be home for (more on that later). If you want to register to vote in Leon County, you’ll use your Tallahassee dorm, apartment or house as your address. One important note for dorm residents: use the name of your dorm (not the dorm’s street address or your campus mailbox number) as your residential address when you register. Then, use your campus mailbox or another address as your mailing address.

To register, most Florida counties require you to provide a Florida driver’s license or state ID and the last four digits of your social security number. If you’re an out-of-state student without a Florida license, no big deal; just print out the electronic application and bring it to the Supervisor of Elections Office (2990-1 Appalachee Parkway) to complete in person.

If you’re an out-of-state student and you want to register in your home state, search “[your county] [your state] voter registration” on Google and find your state or county’s Division of Elections website. Similar to the Floridians registered in their home counties, you’ll have to request a mail-in ballot for every election that you won’t be home for.

The deadline to register to vote in a Florida election is 29 days before Election Day. Here are the registration deadlines for this year’s elections:

  • Presidential Preference Primary Election: Tuesday, Feb. 18
  • Primary Election: Monday, July 20
  • General Election: Monday, Oct. 5

Courtesy: Conservation Colorado

Voting By Mail

If you want to vote in your home county’s elections, you’ll have to request a mail-in ballot on your county’s Division of Elections website. Request your mail-in ballot well in advance! In most counties, you have to request your ballot at least 10 days in advance, and it has to reach your home county’s election office by a certain time on Election Day. Don’t procrastinate – it could mean the difference between your vote being counted or not!

What to Expect at the Poles

If you’re registered to vote in Leon County, then you have two big responsibilities on Election Day: finding your polling place and bringing the proper identification. To find your polling place, head to the Voter Info page on Leon Votes and follow the prompts. As for proper ID, any form of identification with your photo and signature is valid. This might include your passport, your driver’s license (if you have a Florida one) or a military ID.

Pro tip: vote early! The polls won’t be crowded and you can vote at any designated early voting location, not just your assigned one on Election Day. Check Leon Votes for specific dates and times for each election.

Courtesy: Element5 Digital from Pexels

There’s more to voting than this, but hopefully, this can provide you with a starting point for being an engaged citizen this year. Happy voting, and remember: your vote matters, I promise!

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