It’s presidential primary season and the deadline to register to vote in the Pennsylvania primary is fast approaching. Students must register before Mon, March 28th in order to vote in the primary on April 26. Students living on campus can also vote on East Campus in April. Make sure if you are living on campus that you write ‘401 North Fairview Street’ in the address box and include the name of your dorm and room number. The process is simple and can be done easily online at votespa.com. If you are unsure of your voter status, this can also be easily found at the website.
Students who have never voted before should not be intimidated. The online registration system is easy, and takes about 15 minutes. You must have your PA driver’s license or the last four digits of your social security number to register. By giving your phone number on the form, you allow registration officers to contact you if there is a problem.
Absentee ballots can also be ordered on the website. These ballots are used when the voter wishes to vote in a constituency but will not be present on voting day, so it is perfect for students who are away from home. Absentee ballots tend to take some time to arrive, so order one as soon as you can.
The student vote has always been an important one, yet turnout has always lagged behind that of other age groups. According to the US Census Bureau, voters between the ages of 18 through 24 have consistently voted at lower rates than all other age groups in every presidential election since 1962. According to NPR, millennials (people born between 1982 and 2000) now outnumber baby boomers. Which means that the student vote could make a significant difference in the outcome of elections.
There are many reasons for low turnout rates among college students. They are away from home, some without transportation. They lack the knowledge about how to register and are confused about whether to register at home or at school. The new online system should alleviate that confusion.
Students should not undervalue their vote. Pennsylvania has more than 400 institutions of higher education. NPR listed Pennsylvania as one of the ten states in which the student vote could sway the election. Registering to vote had never been easier! Make sure you perform your civic duty this election season and make your voice heard!