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With the upcoming presidential election and voter registration deadlines drawing near Spectrum wants to remind you to register and vote!

In the past, young adults have voted at low rates, but this year millennials and Generation Z are going to make up the largest cohort of eligible voters. This means that your vote matters more than ever. Many of us are going to be voting for the first time, so make sure to stay on top of deadlines to avoid any mishaps.

Registering to vote in New York

If you’re currently in New York, you can register to vote using your campus address or your home address if you live in the state. If you’re from out of state, the choice is yours. If you choose to register to vote using your out-of-state address, then you will need to request an absentee ballot.

There are three different ways you can register to vote in New York.

- You can choose to register in person at your county board of elections or at an agency-based voter registration center.

- You can also register at the Department of Motor Vehicles, either in person or online if you have a DMV-issued form of identification. The deadline to register in person is Oct. 9.

- You can also print out your own voter registration form, fill it out, and send it in by mail. The envelope should be postmarked no later than Oct. 9 and it should arrive at the board of elections no later than Oct. 14.

If you want to vote by mail instead of voting in person on Nov. 3, New York state is one of 16 states where voters have to list a valid reason as to why they are voting by mail on their absentee ballot application. Depending on state requirements, absentee ballots can be requested with or without an excuse.

You can apply for an absentee ballot through the application portal, by sending an email or going in person to your local county board of elections, or by mailing in a paper application. The last day to apply online or by mail for an absentee ballot is Oct. 27 and the last day to apply in person is Nov. 2. The last day to postmark your ballot is Nov. 3 and it should be at the board no later than Nov. 10.

Registering to vote outside of New York

If you are not registering to vote in New York state, make sure to check the registration deadlines for your state here. The only state that doesn’t require you to register to vote is North Dakota. State requirements for registration also vary, so make sure to use this link to look at your state’s specifications.

Typically, certain states may also allow you to request a no-excuse absentee ballot or allow mail-in voting for all registered voters, while others, like New York, only allow people to vote via an absentee ballot if they have a valid excuse. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many states have extended absentee voting eligibility to people without an excuse, and some states are even automatically sending absentee ballots to all registered voters. Make sure to check your updated state policies to see if you are eligible to request an absentee ballot without an excuse. Also, be sure to regularly check your state regulations, because some states are still in the process of expanding absentee ballot voting eligibility, and their rules might change between now and Election Day.

Considering the recent post office delays, make sure you send in your voter registration form early to ensure that it is received on time.

Check your registration status

Voter purging is real and happens more often than you think. Voter purging is done to ensure tha voter registration polls, and lists of registered voters, are accurate and up to date. For example, states remove voters from their list when they have died or moved away. However, problems arise when data gets mixed up and voters find themselves unable to vote on Election Day. Check your registration status regularly to ensure you are on track to vote. You can check your voter registration status here.

Returning your mail-in ballot

Completing your mail-in ballot is an important process and one small mistake might jeopardize your chances of your vote actually counting. What writing utensil you use, your signature, and the envelope your ballot comes in are all important in the voting process, so read the instructions carefully on the envelope and ballot you get sent before filling it out.

Some states can allow you to track your ballot to ensure it was received on time. However, this option is not available everywhere, meaning that it might not be guaranteed that your ballot was received and not rejected. If that concerns you, you should probably consider in person voting.

Voting in person

If you decide to vote in person, consider voting early to minimize wait time and exposure to COVID-19, seeing as less people will be there the earlier in the day you go. Use this link to find your nearest polling location, no matter what state you are currently in.

Extra resources

If you need more guidance throughout the process, the University gives students access to this tool that helps you register to vote in your home state, get your absentee ballot, and get alerts on the election. To find out more about the process to register, take a look at the resources on vote.org.

To stay informed on different political parties, candidates, and policy debates by using on-campus resources, check out:

- ColumbiaVotes

- Columbia Democrats

- Columbia University Libertarians

- Barnard Columbia Socialists

- Columbia Republicans

- Columbia Political Union

- Columbia-Barnard Young Democratic Socialists of America

If you want to learn more about these organizations and other ways to get politically active at Columbia, read this article.

Voting for the first time is exciting, so don’t miss out on an opportunity to have your voice heard by missing a simple deadline. Plan ahead, and get to the polls!

Staff writer Lina Bennani Karim can be contacted at lina.bennanikarim@columbiaspectator.com. Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

politics voting registration absentee ballot mail in elections 2020 presidential
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