Posted September 18, 2020

The Temple students’ guide to registering to vote in 2020

Answers to your questions about where, how and why to register to vote

As you probably know from watching the news or following social media, the 2020 presidential election is fast approaching. Which means now is the time to get ready to vote. 

First, if you haven’t registered to vote already, you’re going to need to do that. Where you register is based on your address. This can be your current address or your permanent address. And this year, due to coronavirus concerns, some of us may have recently changed addresses or feel uncertain about where we will be living come Election Day. 

So, where you plan to register and where or how you plan to cast your vote, may take a little more, well, planning.

We’re here to help you figure it all out.

I have to ask: Why should I vote?
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.

In 2016, just 48.3% of eligible college students voted, up 3.2% from 2012, according to a report by the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education. That means that a whole bunch of eligible voters didn’t vote, and that their ideas on issues such as college affordability and healthcare went unheard. These votes matter because many key elections have been decided by only a handful of voters. 

Video Production: Campus Election Engagment Project

Why register?
You can’t vote if you’re not registered. Registering is easy and only takes about two minutes. You can register here.  

I’m living in Philly now, but my hometown is elsewhere. How do I know where I should register?
This is a common question for college students. That’s why the Campus Vote Project developed this flow chart to help you figure it out. You can also text VOTE to 762-ALL-VOTE (762-255-8683) to be guided through the process. Keep in mind that the deadlines and options are different depending on your state.

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.

What is the deadline for registering?
That depends on the state you register to vote in. Different states have different deadlines. The deadline for registering in Pennsylvania is Oct. 19. You can find your state’s deadline in the state-by-state voting guide.

I think I already registered. Is there a way to check?
You can confirm your registration status here.

I’m registered to vote at my Temple address. How do I find my polling place?
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.

I’ve heard a lot about Voting by Mail. Can I do that?
Many states are allowing voters to mail in their ballots in advance of Election Day. Your state may require you to have a valid excuse to vote by mail, such as being unable to get to your polling place due to illness, injury or disability or being an out-of-state college student. Acceptable excuses vary by state, as do the deadlines by which you need to apply for a mail in ballot. 
This year all Pennsylvania voters can vote by mail. The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot in Pennsylvania is Oct. 27. The State Department recommends doing this early, and you can request your ballot today. Your completed ballot must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day. It can be returned by mail or in person at your County Election Office. Find out about your state’s requirements and deadlines.

Can I work or volunteer on Election Day?
This year after a shortage of poll workers impacted primary voting in some states, election officials are worried about a similar shortage for the general election. Most poll workers are over the age of 60, and during the current pandemic, it’s just too risky for those who are older and more susceptible to the coronavirus to volunteer. That’s why state officials are looking to recruit more younger poll workers this fall.

Learn about how to volunteer on Election Day or where you can be hired to work for pay on Election Day.

I’m an international student and I’m not eligible to vote. How can I get involved?  
Learn more about the process, and encourage your friends to vote. You can also let them know about issues that are important to you.

For answers to more questions, visit Temple Votes. Happy registering!