I didn't vote in the 2012 Presidential Election. There. I said it. And I'm embarrassed. But this doesn't have to be you.
I was a sophomore at UF and was a few months into living in my first college apartment with the first address I could call my own. Sound familiar?
As November approached, I realized I had waited too long to update my address or request an absentee ballot. On election day I debated driving the 1.5 hours to my designated polling place back home in Apopka to vote – but, busy with football season, tough classes, and figuring out how to ‘adult' I chose not to make the trip. I still regret it.
Don't be like me. Make sure you're registered, request an absentee ballot, or make it a priority to get out to the polls. Take advantage of your first opportunity to make your vote count in a Presidential election!
Being a first-time voter is confusing enough. When you add in college classes and being away from home, the process can start to feel even more complicated. We helped you find your college apartment, so it's the least we can do to help you figure out how to vote at your new address. Follow these steps:
Step 1: Determine where you want to register to vote.
Out-of-state UF students will need to decide if they want to register to vote in their hometown state or the state of Florida. In making this decision, a UF Gator might consider factors such as:
• Local issues that might impact you during your time at UF
• Ease of absentee voting in your home state
• Swing/battleground state status
• Rules for absentee voting in your home state
In-state UF students, on the other hand, don't have many decisions to make! Continue to step 2 and simply make sure you are registered to vote in Florida.
Step 2: Register to Vote OR Update Your Address
Not registered yet? The deadline to register online to vote is Monday, October 5, 2020. To register to vote, visit Florida's Voter Registration Website: https://registertovoteflorida.gov/ and click "New Registration".
Are you already registered to vote in Florida? Double-check your voter status here: https://registration.elections.myflorida.com/CheckVoterStatus.
What address are you registered to vote at?
University of Florida students legally have the choice to register to vote at their UF address or home address.
If you choose to register to vote at your home address, be sure to request an absentee ballot in Step 3.
If you choose to register to vote at your UF housing address, you have the choice to request a mail-in ballot OR vote in person at a polling location.
If you want to update your address to your UF student housing, visit Florida's Voter Registration Website: https://registertovoteflorida.gov/ and click "Record Update/Change".
Step 3: VOTE!
Option 1: Vote by Mail (Request an Absentee Ballot to be Mailed to Your UF Apartment Address)
This option will be best for most University of Florida students!
Which UF students request an absentee ballot?
- Plan to request an absentee ballot if you are registered to vote at your home address but want to vote by mail from your UF apartment.
- A UF student might also request an absentee ballot if they prefer to mail in their vote instead of visiting the polls in person.
How to request an absentee ballot: You'll request an absentee ballot via your county's Supervisor of Elections office. Select your county from the list here, then find the section on your Supervisor of Elections' website. You'll need to enter the address you're registered to vote at and the address where you want to receive your absentee ballot.
What is the deadline to request an absentee ballot? For voters registered in Florida, the deadline to request an absentee is TEN days before the election. This will be: Saturday, October 24, 2020. It is HIGHLY advisable not to procrastinate, just follow the link to request your absentee ballot right now and you won't have to worry about the deadline.
Be advised that states have different requirements, and this article would be too long if we listed them all! If you'll be voting based on your home state, simply select your state from the dropdown at this link to learn about your home state's absentee voting deadlines: https://www.nass.org/can-i-vote/absentee-early-voting
Can I drop off my mail-in absentee ballot in person?
You can only drop off a mail-in ballot to your local supervisor of elections. In other words, if you are registered to vote in Tampa and want to drop off an absentee ballot in person, you can only drop it off in your county. To drop off an absentee ballot in person, visit any of the polling places during early voting and drop it off. Another alternative, (for example, if you missed the deadline), is to exchange the mail-in ballot at your assigned polling place for an in-person ballot on election day.
Option 2: Vote in Person at a Polling Location near UF
This option will only work for students who are registered to vote at their UF apartment address.
If you chose to register at your University of Florida apartment address, you can vote at a polling place near campus! Find your polling place on the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections website by entering your address here: https://www.votealachua.com/Voters/Precinct-Voting-1/Precinct-Finder
Since there will most assuredly still be social distancing precautions in place during the election, be sure to pack up your mask, hand sanitizer, and your fellow roommates and classmates and head to your polling location. (You can also encourage one another to make sure you've remembered to mail in your ballot if you have chosen an alternate voting method!) But, if you're voting in person, avoid crowds by voting during early voting days (Saturday October 24 – Saturday October 31st) – just double-check the hours that your polling place offers for early voting. Or, get the full Election Day experience and visit your polling place on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020!