Attending college often means packing up and moving to a new place for the first time. The majority of college students are able to vote, but some may be wondering how to cast their vote in the upcoming Nov. 8 midterm election.
College students often have more than one address — the address of their college dorm or apartment, and the address of their permanent residence (this is often a parent’s or guardian’s home). But individuals can only vote from one address, meaning students need to choose which one they will use to place their vote.
If you’ve recently moved for college, especially to a new state, it’s a good idea to double check the voting eligibility requirements in this area. These requirements are relatively consistent from state to state, with all requiring you to be 18 years old and a U.S. citizen.
Many states also impose restrictions banning convicted felons from being able to vote.
Deciding which address to use
For college students with more than one address, the first step is to decide which address you want to use to vote. This will influence whether you need to change or update your voter registration.
You can check you voter registration status through this online portal. This will also show which address you are currently registered to vote with.
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If you’ve moved to a new place within the same state and want to use your new address to vote, you can go online to update your registration.
If you’ve moved to a new state for school and want to vote with this new address, you’ll need to register to vote in your new state. Keep in mind that each state has their own residency requirements for voting.
In Minnesota, you are required to reside in the state for 20 days before you become eligible to vote here. If you moved to Minnesota for college in September, as is common, you could register to vote with your school address.
Also, be aware that registration deadlines vary in each state.
If you’re already registered to vote with a different address or in a different state, you can opt to vote from this area instead of updating or changing your registration.
Placing your vote
Option one: If you’re using your permanent address to vote, the easiest thing to do is to apply for an absentee ballot, since it may be difficult to travel back to this area or state to vote in person.
After applying for an absentee ballot, your local elections office will send it to you through the mail. From there, complete and mail it back with enough time to spare before Election Day.
Option two: If you updated your voter registration to use your school address, it’s now time to place your vote early or locate your polling place. There are usually several located on or near college campuses.
The most important thing to remember is that you can only register to vote in one locality (registering with more than one address is considered voter fraud). It’s up to you to decide where to place your vote.