Posted May 18, 2020

How to register to vote

We teamed up with Temple Student Government to take the guesswork out of the process.

Story updated: May 18, 2020

With the 2020 presidential primaries well under way, it’s time to get ready to vote. Ballots cast during the primaries determine what Democratic and Republican nominees will be on the ballot for the General Election in November. If you haven’t registered to vote, you’re going to need to do that. We know the registration process can seem confusing, so we checked in the Quinn Litsinger, director of civic engagement for Temple Student Government. 

“For those who have never voted before, it can seem intimidating,” said Listinger. “But college is a great time to begin engaging in the political process.” 

We asked Quinn to answer our questions and help us find our way to the ballot box. 

Why register?
Registering to vote ensures you are able to vote in an election. Though you are not required to vote by law in the U.S., voting is a very important part of any democracy. By casting your vote for the leaders you feel best represent your ideas and interests, you ensure that your voice is heard.

Is there a deadline for registering? 
If you want to vote in the Pennsylvania presidential primary election, which is June 2, 2020, you must register by the May 18, 2020 deadline.

What information do I need to register?
Pretty much the basics, like your name and address. The only info that may be tricky for some is your driver’s license number—make sure you have that on hand. If you don’t have a license, the last four digits of your social security number also work.

Can I register with my school address?
Of course! You can use your temporary address here at Temple, even if you’re an out-of-state resident.

How do I register in Philly?
It’s simple! You can register online here.

Where do I vote?
Good question. There are several polling locations within walking distance of campus, but the one you go to is determined by your address at the time of registration. Type in your address to find your polling place. On election day, that’s where you go to vote.

What if I’m from Pennsylvania, but I want to vote in my hometown? 
If you want to register somewhere else in Pennsylvania, you’ll need to register using your hometown address. Note that you’ll need to go to that location to vote on election day or submit an absentee ballot. And the May 18, 2020 registration deadline applies to all Pennsylvania voters.

What I’m from out of state?
You can register to vote in Philly even if you’re from another state. The process is the same if you prefer to register and vote in your home state, but different states have different registration deadlines and different primary election dates. You will either need to be at your polling place on election day, or submit your early or absentee ballot. 
Find your state’s registration deadline and election days

What’s an absentee or mail-in ballot?
When you are unable to be present at your polling place on election day, an absentee or mail-in ballot allows you to cast your vote by mail in advance. Under normal circumstances, states may require you to have a valid excuse to vote absentee, such as being unable to get to your polling place due to illness, injury or disability or being an out-of-state college student. In response to COVID-19, mail-in ballots are open to any voter. 
Learn more about submitting an absentee ballot or a mail-in ballot

I’ve heard of early voting. What’s that?
Early voting allows registered voters to vote in person on specified dates before election day, and you don’t need an excuse to do it. But again the rules and dates vary by state. To find out the rules and dates for your state, check its election office website.  

Happy registering!