In today’s turbulent political climate, it’s more important than ever that you vote. Young adults have a lot of voting power, but we don’t always use it; young people historically have lower voter turnout rates than older demographics. College students are often very politically attuned; however, going to college away from home makes it easy to lose track of when elections are and how to vote either at school or absentee. With the November midterm elections rapidly approaching, now is the perfect time to take action and register to vote absentee!
College students are eligible to register to vote wherever they go to school, but if you’d rather vote for your home region, you can vote absentee. If you find yourself in this dilemma, it helps to weigh your options and consider where you want your vote to be counted. For example, I attend college in Massachusetts, but my home state is Pennsylvania. I chose to register to vote absentee in Pennsylvania because I’ve been following politics in my home state for longer; I would also rather cast my vote in a swing state where I have more information on the candidates and their policies. No matter what you decide to do, it’s important that you exercise your right to vote in both local and presidential elections if you’re 18 or older.
If you do decide to vote absentee, here’s a guide to registering and casting your ballot! The United States government has a website to help you find information on voting absentee in your state. If you’re voting absentee within the country, your options vary depending on where you will be sending your ballot. Some states offer early voting, which allows you to submit your ballot before election day. This way, you can still vote in person, just before the election occurs (sometimes up to a month before the election). However, if you won’t be available for in-person early voting, you can send in your ballot! This is the more common form of absentee voting.
When applying for an absentee ballot, you can either apply as absentee within the country or an overseas voter. There are different applications depending on where you’re voting from, so be sure to choose the correct form. If you are voting from within the United States, the process for obtaining an absentee ballot varies from state to state. You must check the rules and process for your individual state, which you can do here. If you’re voting from overseas (for example, if you are studying abroad during an election period), then you must fill out a Federal Post Card Application. The FPCA is a separate overseas form and can be sent by mail or scanned electronically (the latter is only available in some regions).
Once your absentee ballot is approved, you can choose to either have it mailed or emailed to you. From there, you choose your candidates and mail it back— and you’re done! It really is that easy to vote absentee.
Most state websites, and the federal website linked above, offer troubleshooting or guides to help you fill out a form. In fact, if you go to www.fvap.gov, which is for overseas voters, you can enter all necessary information and the website will fill out the overseas absentee form for you—all you have to do is print it and sign!
It might seem like a hassle to have to fill out a form just to be able to receive a ballot, but when it comes down to it, your vote has tremendous power and importance. So if you’re voting absentee this November, take ten minutes out of your day and send in your application as soon as possible. Happy voting!
Abigail is a rising sophomore at Emerson College studying for a BFA in creative writing. She spends most of her free time during the year working for her school newspaper, but also enjoys going to poetry readings, spending time with friends, and cheering for her hometown Philadelphia sports teams.