The 2016 presidential race has been one for the books. The GOP had several candidates that broke the “old, white male” stereotype that hangs over the Republican Party, as well as some unlikely candidates who have experienced unexpected success. As former candidates are throwing their support to the lucky few who are left, we are nearing each party’s convention, both of which will be dramatic like the rest of this crazy, political ride.

Every year people say “my vote doesn’t matter, I don’t need to vote.” It has become glaringly obvious in the caucuses and primaries that EVERY VOTE COUNTS, so let’s talk about the steps of voter registration.

1. Determine which state you will be registering in.  This can be tough for college students, especially those who go to school out of state. Certain states (ex. Minnesota) will require you to hold a license in that state if you want to vote there. Other states (ex. Missouri) only require you to have a valid government ID and to have lived in the county for a certain amount of time before you register. Double check the voter requirements!

2. Determine whether you will be voting in person or if you’ll need an absentee ballot. If you want to vote in your home state, but you won’t be there on election day, check your state’s absentee voting rules. Many states will allow any registered voter to vote by absentee ballot, but some states have more specific rules for absentee voting. If you’ll be studying abroad or you go to school out of state, it is especially important to know your absentee ballot application deadlines and if you qualify for absentee voting.

3. Register to vote early. Registration deadlines vary by state, some deadlines can be as little as seven days before the election, some are thirty days before. Register to vote early so you don’t forget! 

4. Know how and where to register. You can register to vote in person, at the DMV, local election offices, or armed service recruitment centers if you so desire. But, I know that no one wants to spend their day in line at the DMV, so you can register online and it only takes about ten minutes.

We are fortunate enough to live in a country that gives every single voter an equal vote, regardless of race, gender, or religion. So, remember to take that first step towards casting your vote and register today!

Jessica P