Out of the know for out-of-state voters


As college students, we are constantly reminded that it is our duty as American citizens to vote during elections. For many of us, this is our first year being eligible to vote which makes this election season especially exciting. While University of San Diego students are hopeful and eager to hit the polls this upcoming November, very few out of state students are aware about the procedures required to vote while being away from home.

The tricky thing about absentee voting is that the rules and regulations vary from state-to-state. For example, the process for me to vote as an out-of-state Texan is much more complicated than those trying to vote from Arizona. For out-of-state Toreros, it is important to check the criteria for your home state early enough in advance to avoid complications. While every state provides an alternate option for absentee voters, there are many different procedures, rules, and regulations that need to be on more student’s radars.

First year Caroline Gallagher admits that she is unaware of her requirements to vote as an out of state student.

“Honestly I haven’t really thought that far,” Gallagher said. “November seems so far away right now, and I guess it is, but if my voting process is going to take a long time I probably need to get started. I really don’t even know where to go to figure out what I need to do or how long it’s going to take but I would be super frustrated if I wasn’t able to vote because of something I could have easily avoided.”

Some states are much more lenient with their requirements for absentee voters and do not require a legitimate excuse. Other regions make it easier for voters by providing the option to appear at an official election office or other designated location to fill out and cast a voting absentee ballot in one stop. This process is made easier for some by the option of a completely online alternative that provides immediate results. On the other hand, states such as Texas have a much more strict and regulated requirement for who is allowed to receive an absentee voter’s ballot. In this case, the voter must be 65 years or older, disabled, out of the county on election day, or confined in jail.

Once one is aware of the various requirements for absentee voting, it is still necessary to follow the procedures that may take up to several weeks to complete. In my case, I had to fill out an online form, receive a document emailed to me, fill out that document by hand, mail that document to a specific location, and then wait to receive another document that gives permission to vote accordingly.

To be honest, after beginning this process and realizing all of the various steps that needed to be completed, I was relatively frustrated and felt that my time was better spent elsewhere. In my opinion, this process should be simplified to encourage people to get to the polls.

In many cases, the out-of-state voting procedures are very complicated, lengthy, and difficult to understand and follow. For busy college students, it may be tricky to find the time to complete this checklist, especially when voting might not be on your mind quite yet.

Millennials are constantly reminded that their generation is the least active at the polls. Unfortunately, I think a lot of this has to do with the lack of knowledge on voting procedures and how the process really works. Some are lucky enough that they will be able to hit the polls in their home state here in California with ease, but others need to actively seek out their options early so that they are able to vote this upcoming election and actively contribute as a citizen.