Election season is once again upon us, so it’s a great time to make sure your voter registration is active and up-to-date. Check out this post from a few years ago that provides a wealth of information on voter registration requirements. We’ve updated it to reflect the new election dates/deadlines. Happy voting!
Post contributed by Max Garcia, Office of Sustainability Intern
The 2018 election is arriving quickly, and it is our duty as citizens to make use of our political opinions! Save the date, November 6th, 2018 to take the patriotic step towards offering your vote to the local, state, and federal governments.
Since the majority of Auburn students enter undergraduate studies around the voting age, for many this is the first time they will be old enough to participate through voting. But this is also a daunting experience for those who have never, or seldom, participated in government. If you are one of those people, don’t worry you are not alone. According to Tufts University’s College of Civic Life, 45% of people between the ages 18 and 29 voted in the 2012 presidential election.
For many of these young citizens, they don’t vote because they either don’t know how or believe they have to be in their home state on Election Day to vote. In reality, you do not have to be in your home state or city to vote in the election. In most states, however, you must be registered to vote prior to Election Day. For example, in Alabama you must be registered at least 14 days prior to Election Day, but in Georgia it is 30 days (if you register online). Be sure to check the deadline for your state.
“Those who stay away from the election think that one vote will do no good. Tis’ but one more step to think one vote will do no harm.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
To help make the process easier for those who haven’t voted before or haven’t voted outside their home state I have researched what you need to do to 1) vote as an Alabama resident at home, 2) vote as an Alabama resident who is away from their home town/city, and 3) vote as a person away from their home state.
Voting in Your Alabama Precinct
To vote in Alabama you may register online prior to the election, if you have an Alabama driver’s license. According to Alabama’s Official Election Center, you must meet the following criteria: you are a US citizen, 18 years of age or older, are a resident of Alabama, are not “mentally incompetent” in a court of law, and have not been barred from voting due to a disqualifying felony conviction. If you are voting in your town of residence, make sure to locate your voting location.
For example, if your permanent residence is in Auburn, Alabama then after you register you may vote at your designated location in your county.
Voting in Alabama Away from Home
If you are registered to vote in Alabama, but your permanent Alabama residence is too far from where you will be on Election Day, then you must apply for an absentee ballot. If you have already registered to vote, then you will need to fill out the application for Absentee Ballot.
After you have filled out the full application, you must send or hand deliver the application WITH a copy of your Alabama driver’s license or other acceptable I.D., so it arrives to the General Election Manager’s office of the county of your permanent residence at least 5 days prior to Election Day. You may get your Absentee Election Manager’s office contact information from the Alabama Secretary of State.
Once your application has been approved, your county’s office will send you a ballot. This ballot must then be mailed back and received by the Absentee Election Manager’s office no later than Noon on Election Day. That same ballot must also be postmarked the day prior to Election Day. Complete instructions on how to properly mail and fill out your ballot will be accompanied with the blank ballot they send you.
For example, if your permanent residence is in Madison County, Alabama, but you currently reside in Lee County, Alabama, you will send your Alabama absentee application, and then your ballot, to the Absentee Election Manager of Madison County.
Voting Out of State
Assuming you are already registered to vote in your home state, the process to vote outside of your state is quite similar to the system in Alabama. First, you must find the absentee application specific to your state, and either request it from your home county office or find the document on the webpage of your home state’s Secretary of State Office, generally this is the official election center. Once you have received your absentee application, fill it out, attach a copy of your home state’s driver’s license or alternate accepted form of identification (if required), and return it to the county in which your permanent residence is located. Finally, when you receive your absentee ballot, you must fill it out and return it to the location determined by your state/county by their required deadline.
For example, if your permanent residence is in Cobb County, Georgia, and you are registered to vote in Georgia, you may apply for an absentee ballot while living in Lee County, Alabama. Simply, receive an application from the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. After the form has been filled out, send it to Cobb County’s Board of Elections office. After your application has been approved, you will have a ballot sent back to you at your residence in Lee County. You can then complete your ballot, and return it to the designated location.
Remember, different states have different deadlines and requirements for their ballot application, please check that you can meet those requirements prior to applying.
It is important to vote! This is one of your rights as a citizen and as George Jean Nathan states, “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who don’t vote.” As students, we are the next generation that will change the world, why not start with electing politicians today?