Voting info for students going off to college
If you have a child, grandchild, relative or anyone else planning to go off to college in the fall, you may have questions about what he or she should do about voting in the November general election and future elections. With all the excitement of going away, packing, arranging classes and making new friends, thinking about the election might fall too far down the student’s list until it’s too late to act on it.
So now is the time to make sure your freshman is able to exercise his or her rights by voting Nov. 6.
To register to vote, a person must be 17 years and 10 months old. Registration forms can be obtained at any public library and most post offices.
There are two choices, depending on where your student goes and personal preferences: requesting a ballot by mail so the student can vote using a parent’s home address, or changing the student’s address to where he or she is in college and voting in person in the city where the college is located.
This will focus on students staying in Texas.
Use home address
The first choice is remaining registered at their home addressand applying for a mail-in ballot by calling or writing to the Bexar County Elections Department. The request, which can be made as early as Jan. 1, must be received no later than 11 days before the election. When the ballots are ready, you will be mailed one, which will include local San Antonio, state and national races. Follow the instructions and mail it back so that it is received by 7 p.m. on election day.
The student must already be registered at the home address to do this. Students not of age before leaving for college can take a mail-in registration form with them and mail it back with their home address when they reach eligibility.
Use address at school
The second choice is to register at school using their dorm or apartment address, so they can vote in person there. They can get applications at the local library, possibly somewhere on campus, or probably there will be voter registration events at school during orientation. To vote in the Nov. 6 election, they must be registered by Oct. 9.
Students already registered must change their address to their college address to vote in person at school. They will vote in that city’s local elections and the same state and federal elections as they would at home.
Going out of state
If the student is going out of state, there are ramifications beyond voting that must be considered. Registering in another state means declaring yourself a resident of that state, which could mean giving up your Texas drivers license and losing Texas in-state tuition should the student return to Texas later for more education. It is best to talk to a school counselor, a tax accountant or other expert before your student changes registration.