Campus News

Voting 101

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BDM Election Photo Indiana’s primary election is fast approaching: May 3. (For all state primary dates, check the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s list here.) Are you ready to vote? Are you planning to vote? Do you know all the ways you can? Many college age students often feel as though they are unaware or unsure about where and how they can vote in the presidential elections, and, due to the fact that there is an upcoming election, knowing this information is crucial for voters to know. Due to the fact that Bethel is located within the state of Indiana, it’s likely that the majority of Bethel students will vote as residents of Indiana. Therefore, the information provided here will mainly reflect the ways in which Indiana residents go about voting. The first step for any voter is to register to vote. According to brennancenter.org, “Indiana’s registration deadline is 29 days before election day, and you can register in person, online, or through the mail. Mail-in applications must be postmarked by the registration deadline or you may also register in person at your county’s voter registration office through that date. Indiana also offers online voter registration to voters who have an Indiana driver’s license or State ID card; the deadline is 11:59 on the 28th day before the election.” The wide array of ways in which one can register to vote is highly beneficial to college age students, due to their tendency to be highly crunched for time. For these time-sensitive students, the process of online registration is extremely fast and simple. Although registration may be simple, the fact that the majority of college students who live on campus are no longer within their home county poses quite a dilemma. In regards to this issue, brennancenter.com says “students can establish residency in Indiana if their present intention is to remain at their Indiana school address for the time being, and they intend to make it their principal home. Provided you have the intention to establish your home in the state and intend to return there, you are constitutionally an Indiana resident.” In addition to out-of-state students attending Bethel, the reverse is also often true: Indiana residents going out-of-state to attend a different school. In regards to the registration process for these individuals brennancenter.org states that “students who lived in Indiana but moved to another state for school, and who wish to establish or keep their Indiana voting residency, should have no problem doing so unless they have already registered to vote in another state . . . The only way you will lose this residency is if you “abandon” it by asserting residency in a new state.” Once the process of registration is complete and the day of voting arrives, it becomes necessary to determine where you must go to vote. Indianavoters.gov gives a helpful list of voting locations and, if you’re unsure, which one county residents should go to. Just click “Find Polling Place,” fill in your voter registration, and find your county to find the place to go for voting. The process truly is quite simple assuming you’re registered to vote. Once you learn where you should vote, you must arrive at the destination with proper identification in order to begin casting your vote. According to brennancenter.org, “all voters who vote in person, either on the Election Day or during early voting, will be asked to show a current, valid photo ID issued by the state of Indiana or the federal government. You pay be asked to present proof of identification at multiple points. For ID to count, it must: 1. Have your name as it is in the registration records; 2. Have a photo of you; 3. Have an expiration date, which must be current or have expired after the date of the most recent general election; and 4. Be issued by the U.S. government or the state of Indiana. Student IDs from public universities will only count if they meet all four requirements. Student IDs from private universities will not count, because they are not issued by the state.” If you happen to not have your driver’s license or form of ID, there is another option available. The website, brennancenter.org states, “You can get a non-driver’s ID for free at the Indiana BMV, but you will have to show proof of your citizenship and your address to get ID, which will usually involve bringing a passport or a birth certificate with you.” As with all college students, life happens, and scheduling new activities can be quite difficult. If you’re dealing with this predicament, the option of absentee voting can be highly beneficial. According to gab.wi.gov, “not all voters can get to the polling place on election day. An absentee ballot is the printed ballot marked by an absent voter, sealed in a special envelope, and given or mailed to the municipal clerk. The municipal clerk ensures that each absentee ballot that is returned in a timely manner gets to the right place on election day. If accepted, the absentee ballot is counted as if the voter had cast the ballot in person.” In regards to the absentee voting process within Indiana specifically, the process is similar. According to brennancenter.org, “in order to vote absentee by mail in Indiana, you have to have a ‘specific, reasonable expectation’ that you will be unable to vote in person on Election Day. You must apply for a blank absentee ballot, and if you did not apply in person, your application must be received at least 8 days before Election Day. In most cases, you may apply in person for an absentee ballot at the clerk’s office until noon on the day before Election Day. Your completed absentee ballot must be received by the county election board before polls close on Election Day, so if you are mailing your ballot, be sure to mail it early enough.” The website goes on to state “you may turn in your absentee ballot either by mail, by delivering it in person to the county election board yourself, or having a family member deliver it in person to the county election board. If a family member delivers your ballot, they will have to complete a written sworn statement, attesting to their relationship to you and when you gave them the ballot.” Another way of voting that may be highly beneficial to many students is early voting. In regards to early voting, Demos.org states “early voting provides a means for eligible voters to cast their ballots at a time and location other than in person on Election Day.” In order to complete early voting, the individual would need to know when and where early voting will be occurring, which, according to brennancenter.org, “begins 28 days before an election and ends at noon on the day before Election Day. Each county’s early voting times vary, so you should check with your county elections office for the exact dates, times, and locations for early voting.” Being an informed voter is definitely possible for the average student. Once one has gathered the needed information, and become well-informed, they can easily complete the voting process. Due to the fact that our nation is one that is blessed to be a Democratic-Republic, each individual, regardless of time constraints, should make the effort to place their vote. Every vote truly does count! BDM Election Photo
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