The whole country is watching young voters like me, to see if we show up and make a difference at the midterms. Meanwhile, lots of us are still trying to figure out some basic questions about how we’re supposed to vote while we’re away at school. College students have more than enough to worry about with our midterm exams approaching, let alone world-altering elections.
Luckily, YR Media’s got us covered.
Here are some tips to make sure you get your ballot in, no matter where you are.
1. If Needed…Apply for Your Absentee Ballot
Also known as by-mail voting or mail-in voting, absentee voting requires that you request a special ballot in advance that lets you submit your vote by snail-mail before Election Day rather than head to your neighborhood polling place.
You apply for an absentee ballot by visiting your state or territorial election website (find it easily by clicking here) and look for “Absentee Voting” or “Voting By Mail.”
The conditions and deadlines to apply for an absentee ballot vary by state. According to Vote.org, 21 states require voters to provide a reason for needing an absentee ballot, and 27 states–including the District of Columbia–offer no-excuse absentee voting. Double-check if your state requires you to give your reason here. This site shows the deadlines for absentee ballot requests, and the last day you can mail it back. Don’t miss it!
2. Stay Engaged
Saying that college students are busy is a severe understatement. However, that doesn’t mean you get a pass on the most basic civic duty.
Young people have proven in recent months that they are passionate about a wide range of social issues by mobilizing major movements around gun control, women’s rights, and fighting racism. However, the difficulty has been getting this passion into the polls during midterms. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that less than 20 percent of eligible voters aged 18-29 voted in the 2014 midterms.
When you’re taking a social media break (read: procrastinating instead of writing your paper), check up on the politics sections of your favorite news outlets. Which candidates from your district are getting the most attention? Who are they running against? What issues do they care about? With access to so much information at our fingertips, there really is no excuse for not doing the necessary research beforehand.
Ballotpedia.org has a comprehensive list of all the measures and candidates that will appear on your ballot, with full explanations of what “yes” or “no” votes mean. It’s 100 percent worth your time, so check it out here.
Also be sure to explore Headcount.org. They help young people register to vote at concerts around the country. They also have helpful state-by-state information on candidates, an easy application for absentee ballots, and FAQ about voting on their website.
3. Where to Vote
Want to know how close your nearest polling place is? Check out this site that helps you find it by state.
Ride-share services like Uber and Lyft are making it even easier to get to nearby polling places on Election Day by giving discounted and free rides to polling locations.
Lyft is offering voters 50 percent off and free rides to underserved communities that “face significant obstacles to transportation.”Uber is partnering with nonprofit organizations to register voters and provide free rides to the polls on Election Day. Voters can find their polling place and book a ride via the Uber app.