I am embarrassed to admit, I didn't vote in the 2012 Presidential Election. I was a sophomore at The University of Florida and was living in my first apartment – I had only been living at my new address for a couple months. Are you in a similar situation?
The deadlines came and went. I had officially waited too long to update my address or request an absentee ballot. I debated making the two-hour drive back from to my designated polling location in Apopka to vote. In the midst of classes, studying, and getting situated in my new life, I ended up not making it back home to vote.
Don't make the same mistakes I did. Make sure you're registered to vote and request an absentee ballot, or head to the polls for early voting or on election day. This is your first chance to make your vote count in a Presidential election, don't miss it!
The process of registering to vote and learning the ropes for the first time can be overwhelming. Add in a major life change like moving away from home and starting college, preparing to vote can feel extremely complicated. We helped you throughout your apartment search to find your college apartment – the least we can do is help you figure out how to vote at your new address.
ApartmentsForBulls.com outlines the steps and deadlines below so you will be ready to vote this election:
Step 1: Decide where you should register to vote.
Out-of-state USF students will need to make the decision of whether to register to vote in Florida or their hometown state. In making this decision, a Bull will want to consider these factors:
• Local issues that could impact you during your time at college
• Ease of absentee voting in your home state
• Swing/battleground state status
In-state USF students, don't need to consider these factors! Continue to Step 2 to make sure you are registered to vote in the state of Florida.
Step 2: Register to Vote OR Update Your Address
Not registered yet? Registering to vote is simple: visit Florida's Voter Registration Website: https://registertovoteflorida.gov/ and click "New Registration" to become a registered voter in minutes. The deadline to register online to vote is Monday, October 5, 2020.
Are you already registered to vote in Florida? Confirm your voter status here: https://registration.elections.myflorida.com/CheckVoterStatus.
What address are you registered to vote at?
University of South Florida students can choose to register to vote at your current USF address or home address, the choice is legally yours to make!
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 USF apartment 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 USF apartment, 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 Current USF Apartment Address)
This option will be best for most USF students!
Which USF students should request an absentee ballot?
You should request an absentee ballot if you are currently registered to vote at your home address but want to vote by mail from your USF apartment.
Students can also request an absentee ballot if they would rather vote by mail than visit 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. From here, find the section on your Supervisor of Elections' website. They will ask for the address you are registered to vote at and the address where you wish 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, which is Saturday, October 24, 2020. However, it's easy to lose track of time so it's best to go ahead and follow the link above now while you're thinking about it.
Other states have different requirements. To learn more about other states, use the dropdown in 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?
If you would rather drop off your absentee ballot in person, simply stop by any of the polling places during early voting and drop it off. If you missed the deadline, don't worry! You can exchange your mail-in ballot at any polling place for an in-person ballot on election day.
Option 2: Vote in Person at a Polling Location near USF
This option will only work for students who are registered to vote at their USF apartment address.
Find your polling place on the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections website by entering your address here: https://www.votehillsborough.org/VOTERS/Voting-Precincts.
This year be sure to bring your essentials: a mask, hand sanitizer, and a couple of your roommates. You can avoid voter crowds by voting during early voting days (Saturday October 19 – Saturday November 1). Be sure to check the hours that your polling place offers for early voting, as location hours may vary. If you're excited to get the full Election Day experience, visit your polling place on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020!