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Get Out The Vote and Make Your Voice Heard

A voter registration table with students at it at Binghamton University.

A heated and contested election campaign is nearing its completion come November 8th. It’s time that all those who have the ability to participate, namely us college students, know when to register and how to cast their vote in order to have a say in the future of our country.

Millennials are in a unique position. According to the Pew Research Center, they have officially become the largest generation since the Baby Boomers. And 2016 will be the first time a lot of millennial college students will get to vote in a presidential election. This makes our already busy election season even more unique. Millennials finally have the ability to heavily influence an election and to take charge of the direction of the free world. But, unfortunately, a lot of college students won’t vote because they don’t know how to register or they don’t live in the county they go to school in and absentee voting can be very confusing.

To help our nearly half million students know how to get involved, the SUNY Student Assembly has partnered with Rock the Vote, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization aimed at getting young people to the polls, to make it easy for college students to register to vote. Anyone can register of see if you are registered online.

The SUNYSA reached out to the Rock The Vote campaign because they are one of the largest nonprofit and nonpartisan organization in the United States driving the youth vote to the polls. Since Rock the Vote was founded in 1990, they have been registering and turning out millions of new voters across the country. Using their services helps the SUNYSA reflect the power of civic engagement and mobilization of students.

How do I vote if I don’t go to school near home?

A term we hear a lot during election season is absentee voting. Absentee voting is when someone has a ballot mailed to their house or school because they can’t get to the polling station they are assigned to. When someone registers to vote, they have to use their permanent address, which for most college students, is far from their school.

However, if you don’t go the absentee way, know that students also have the right to vote in the towns and cities where they attend college if they so choose. Or, a college student can register to vote, and then fill out an application for the absentee ballot and vote by mail to ensure that their voice is heard in this critical election.

New York residents must be registered or their application must be postmarked no later than October 14th. An absentee ballot application must be received or postmarked no later than November 1st.

And since SUNY students come from many neighboring locations, here are the deadlines for registering and requesting an absentee ballot for a few neighboring states:

  • New Jersey: must be registered by October 18th. Absentee ballot application must be received by November 1st.
  • Connecticut: must be registered or application must be postmarked no later than November 1stNo specific deadline for absentee ballot applications, but they recommend submitting it at least a month before the election.
  • Massachusetts: must be registered by October 19th. Absentee ballot applications must be received by 12 p.m. on the day before the election.
  • Pennsylvania: must be registered to vote by October 7th. Absentee ballot applications must be received by November 1st.  

More absentee ballot information for all 50 states is available at Rock The Vote.

Remember, with privilege comes great responsibility. So register to vote and request the absentee ballot by the date above to have your voice heard!

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

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Written by Student Assembly

The SUNY SA is an organization comprised of student leaders elected by their peers from across SUNY’s 64 campuses.

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