Absentee ballot helps out-of-district UNA student vote

As the preliminary elections approach, now is the time to register to vote. However, some students question whether or not they can vote while they are living on campus.

Just over 19 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds voted in the 2014 elections, according to a U.S. Census November 2014 voting survey. This is the lowest number of youth voter turnout recorded in the past 40 years.

While most UNA students are from the state of Alabama, about 20 percent are not, according to a report from the Department of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment. Thanks to absentee voting, out-of-district or out-of-state students can vote during elections.

“We’ve had some (students) register already from UNA,” said Chairman of the Voter Registrar’s Office Emily Springer. “It happens all the time. It’s a common thing that people do.”

Absentee voting is where people who are unable to come to the polls on Election Day due to being out of town or away at college can vote early. This also applies to people who work shifts longer than 12 hours, according to registertovote.org.

Students can register to absentee vote by filling out the form for the state they wish to vote in. These forms are available at longdistancevoter.org.

If a student wishes to vote in the state of Alabama, he or she can register for early voting or absentee voting at the Lauderdale County Municipal Building on Court Street.

“Once the ballot is filled out, a notary must notarize it when they sign the ballot, or they can get two registered voters from their state sign for them,” Springer said.

The state government sends a ballot to the person’s residence. He or she fills it out and mails it back to government.

“The laws on absentee voting vary by state, so students should look up the policies on their own state online,” she said.

Senior Will Rayburn said he thinks students should participate in politics.

“If you don’t vote, you can’t bitch,” he said.

“We (college students) get to direct our own future by who we elect,” Rayburn said.

Students can find information on absentee voting laws by state at brennancenter.org/student-voting.

If students living on campus are from the state of Alabama and have never registered to vote, they can do so in Florence.

“All they need is a valid government ID or driver’s license (in the state of Alabama),” Springer said. “They can use their university address, too.”

There are many locations to register to vote across the Shoals. Public libraries, including the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library and the Muscle Shoals Public Library, have voter registration forms. Students can also register to vote at the Municipal Building on Court Street.

Freshman Lauren Bobo said she has not registered to vote, but she plans to before the presidential elections begin.

“This seems like a game-changing presidential election,” Bobo said. “I will definitely vote because I do not want Donald Trump to be my president. It was funny at first, but now it seems like he might have a chance.”