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What You Need to Know About Absentee Voting: Ole Edition

After months of following the campaign trail, we are now in the home stretch of one of the most exciting elections in history. As a first-time voter, sometimes the voting process can seem daunting and confusing. And as an out-of state Ole (shoutout to Oak Park, IL!), the process seems even more complicated. But do not fear! While specific voting procedures vary between states, listed below are steps everyone takes regardless of state residency. 

 

1.) Make Sure You Are Registered to Vote! 

To vote in the general election, you must be at least 18 years old by Election Day, be a US citizen and meet your state’s residency requirements. If you are already registered to vote, you can skip to Step 2. If not, you will need to go to https://vote.gov/?1 to register. Many states allow you to register online. However, some states, such as Wisconsin, only offer mail-in registration. Be sure to mail in/submit your application ASAP. While it does seem a little early to register, don’t procrastinate because if you application is late, you might not be able to vote. 

 

2.) Get Educated and Do Your Research. 

With hours of homework, extracurriculars, intramural sports practice and a paper due Wednesday, it can be difficult to stay updated with current events. I’ve totally been guilty of this. To stay informed, I try to read the newspaper during breakfast and follow news outlets on social media. Doing research on each candidate’s position on a wide range of topics can help you make an educated decision on who you want to vote for.  Do not vote blindly! Here are some websites that are great resources for learning about the candidates: 

 

3.) Request Your Absentee Ballot

At St. Olaf, many students need to request absentee ballots in order to vote. When you vote by absentee ballot, it means that you are unable to vote in person on Election Day. Being an out-of state student, absentee voting is the only way I can vote without having to travel back to my state. Also, make sure you are registered to vote before you request your ballot. A tool I found help was rockthevote.com’s “Vote By Mail- Absentee Voting Information” article. On its website, you can look up your state and it will send you to your state’s absentee ballot request form. Once you have filled out the form, send it in as soon as you can to ensure you get your ballot on time. 

 

4.) Fill Out Your Ballot and Send It In

Make sure to fill out the ballot carefully and follow the instructions. Again, do not procrastinate! States are very strict with their deadlines and ballots recieved after the deadline will not be counted.

 

And Remember…

Ben Sargent cartoon from the Austin, Texas American-Statesman. “Your vote is your voice.”  

Photo Sources: Photo 1Ballot Photo, Absentee Ballot Photo, Ben Sargent Cartoon 

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Gray Reynolds

St Olaf '18

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