Registration for 2020 Election Approaches
This article was originally published in District on October 22, 2019
SCAD students routinely use their art to affect change in society, but this year, many will be offered a wholly different and equally important chance to transform the world in their own image. By voting, students can make a difference in the 2020 election. As registration dates approach and the major parties begin their nomination processes, now is the time for students to ensure their voices will count come November.
The first step for students looking to participate in democracy is, register to vote. Depending on the state, there’s a specific process to get your name on the voter roll. Often, it’s as simple as filling out the two minute form at vote.org, since 38 states and the District of Columbia allow online voter registration.
A number of states, however, such as: Florida, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming require prospective voters to register by mailing a county or state office, or in-person at a government building such as a DMV. In general, registration must be completed by mid-October to early-November and usually requires a photo ID. Information on specific registration requirements and deadlines can be found at the U.S. Vote Foundation website.
For most SCAD students who live outside of the state, the next step in the process involves obtaining an absentee ballot. Using the resources on the U.S. Vote Foundation’s website, you can sign up to vote if your state allows online registration, and request an absentee ballot. To complete the process, fill out the ballot, which may ask you to provide a reason for not voting in-person. Once completed, mail the ballot back to the office that issued it, and [if offered in your state] consider joining a permanent absentee ballot list so that a ballot is mailed to you automatically in all future elections.
For those students who call Georgia home, the registration deadline of Oct. 11 has passed. All that remains is to prepare for the day by looking up polling stations, hours and a proper photo ID. In anticipation of the election, learn about the candidates and their platforms, by going to their websites. To find which canidate you are most aligned with take head to isidewith.com to take their quiz.
Despite rivaling baby boomers in terms of potential voters, millennials have developed a reputation for staying at home on election day. Organizations such as Campus Vote Project run campaigns that aim to connect students with the resources and information they need to vote. At the same time, participate with initiatives like HeadCount, which caters to young people by mobilizing teams of volunteers to concerts, where they help attendees register to vote.
Students can help others to register to vote throughout the year by volunteering as ambassadors at places like the Andrew Goodman Foundation, an organization that aims to empower students and minority groups through the ballot box. Though 2016 saw a relatively high turnout with approximately 50% of 18-29 year-olds showing up to vote, there’s still a long way to go in getting young people to use their voice.