5 Tips for College Girls Who Vote (Or Want to Vote)

Midterm elections are coming up, so now is a good time for some tips about voting for college students who are registered or thinking about registering.

1. If You Want to Register to Vote

Maybe you have missed the registration deadline to vote in the November elections—do not despair. You can still register in time for the presidential elections. Usually, the application is short and the bulk of it is asking you to provide basic information about yourself. Most states will allow citizens to register online. A list of these states, with links, can be found here. If one of the links is broken, or your state does not allow residents to register online, try visiting your state’s official website or your state election office website. This webpage might help you find the latter. If that does not work, try typing “how to register to vote in [insert home state here]” into a search engine. Something useful should show up in the first few results.

2. Consider Voting for More Than Just President

The presidential election is a big deal, and it gets the most media coverage as a result, but it is not the only election that is important.  Think about voting for senators, representatives, governors and state legislature. There are other elections for positions of power in the United States, and you should vote in as many as you see fit, but voting in these four is a good start. United States senators and house representatives hold a great deal of power when it comes to federal law, while governors, state senate and state house are in charge of state law. So their decisions affect citizens greatly. When elections for these positions take place, they are all on the same ballot. You can find the names of candidates on Ballotpedia by either using the website’s sample ballot tool, or by looking at the elections calendar webpage. Once you have their names, you can go to the candidates’ website to see where they stand on different issues and whether or not you like their vision for the future.

3. Consider Voting in Primaries

Do you lack enthusiasm when it comes to voting?  Do you find that the candidates in general elections do not give you hope for positive change?  This may be a sign that you should be voting in primaries, if you are not doing that already. In primary elections, you get to vote on which candidate represents a party in the general election.  There is a wider variety of candidates in primaries, so you stand a better chance of finding one that wants to affect changes that you are in favor of. Some states have closed primaries, meaning that you must be registered with a party in order to vote in that party’s primary.  Other states have open primaries, where you don’t need to be registered with a party to vote, but you can only vote in one party’s primary. In either case, you could try taking the quiz on IsideWith.com to find out which party aligns with your views the most so that you can make an informed decision on which party’s primary you want to vote in. You can also find out if your state's primaries are open or closed by finding it on this map and clicking on it. You can find the names of primary candidates in the resources mentioned in the previous part of this list.

4. If Your College is Far from Your Voting Location

A lot of college students go to a school that is not close to home, which makes it difficult to get to your polling location in time to vote. There are two ways that you could work around this, the first being an absentee ballot. Absentee ballots allow you to cast your vote by mail, but you have to apply for one first. The other way is to change your registration address to that of your university. Information on how to do both of these things can usually be found in your election office website. For fellow University of Georgia students, UGAvotes is also a resource.

5. Make Sure You Have Not Been Purged

Before any election, it is important to make sure that you have not been purged.  Purges result in registered voters being taken off of rolls and, while it is a normal process that results in the removal of inaccurate information from voter rolls, some have argued that purging in certain parts of the US has been more aggressive than necessary. If you are registered to vote, check to see if you are still registered before upcoming elections. Also, make sure that you check before registration deadlines so that you have time to register again if you have been purged.

There you have it. I hope that this list helps you in your efforts to be an active voter. 

Sources [1, 2]