I have a confession. I didn't vote in the 2012 Presidential Election. And I'm embarrassed. I had options but I didn't really know what they were. Don't make the same mistake. We're here to help.
I was a sophomore at The University of Florida and had been living in my first college apartment for a few months. It was the very first address I could call my own and I was "adulting". Sound familiar?
As November and the election 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, Florida to vote – but, busy with football season, a full course schedule, and other "important" things, I chose not to make the trip. I still regret it.
You don't have to make the same mistake. 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 can feel 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 to determine where to cast your ballot:
Step 1: Determine where you want to register to vote.
Out-of-state students can decide if they want to register to vote in their hometown state or the state of Florida. In making this decision, a FAMU, FSU, or TCC student might consider factors such as:
• Local issues that might impact you during your time on campus
• Ease of absentee voting in your home state
• Swing/battleground state status
• Rules for absentee voting in your home state
In-state students, 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 is 29 days before the ucoming election. 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?
FSU students legally have the choice to register to vote at their campus 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 FSU 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 FSU student housing, visit Florida's Voter Registration Website: https://registertovoteflorida.gov/ and click "Record Update/Change".
Step 3: Get out and VOTE!
Option 1: Vote by Mail (Request an Absentee Ballot to be Mailed to Your FSU/FAMU/TCC Apartment Address)
This option will be best for most Tallahassee students!
Which Tallahassee students request an absentee ballot?
- If you are registered to vote at your home address but want to vote by mail from your FSU apartment, you'll request an absentee ballot.
- An FSU student might 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. Do not procrastinate, just follow the link to request your absentee ballot early 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 Gainesville 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 Campus
This option will only work for students who are registered to vote at their Tallahassee apartment address.
If you chose to register at your Florida State University apartment address, you can vote at a polling place near campus! Find your polling place on the Leon County Supervisor of Elections website by entering your address here: https://www.leonvotes.gov/YourVoterinfo.