Tips for First-Time Voters
For many colleges students, this is the first year they are eligible to vote for the next president of the United States.
Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show the significant impact of America’s youngest voters. Still, voters between the ages of 18 to 24 continue to vote at lower rates than other age groups.
This November, eligible students have the opportunity to let their voices be heard in the 2016 presidential election. Here are a few tips to prepare first-time voters for Election Day, which is Tuesday, November 8, 2016.
Register to Vote
The first step is to determine where you should be registered. If you are from Georgia (and hold a valid driver’s license or ID card), then you will register as a Georgia voter. If you are an out-of-state student, you can choose between registering in your home state or in Georgia, depending on your residency. Depending on your state, registration can be done online, in-person, or by mail. Visit vote.usa.gov to select your state and register online if it’s available; if not, mail in the provided voter registration form on the site. Be sure to register at least several weeks before election day, as it may take time to receive confirmation. After registering, voter registration status can be checked here.
In Georgia, the deadline to register to vote is the fifth Monday before the election — for the presidential election, that’s Tuesday, October 11. All mail should be postmarked by this date. Registration dates differ in each state, so check your applicable registration deadline well in advance.
Out-of-state students who are registered in their home state and do not plan to go home to vote in person November 8 will need to submit an absentee ballot ahead of time. Other voters who cannot make it to their poll location on Election Day are also given the opportunity to submit an absentee ballot. Absentee ballots can be applied for as early as 180 days before the election. The ballot must be submitted to the appropriate County Board of Registrars Office.
It is recommended that absentee ballots be requested at least one month before Election Day, and the Georgia deadline for submission is the close of polls on Election Day. Out-of-state students planning to submit an absentee ballot to their home state should check their absentee ballot deadline, as they vary by state.
In Georgia, any registered voter can request an absentee ballot. Some states require voters to provide an excuse in order to request an absentee.
Georgia voters interested in checking the status of their absentee ballots can log in and view the status here.
Early voting in Georgia starts October 17. Early voting gives voters the flexibility to vote in-person on a day that may be more convenient than Election Day. This option was created to increase voter participation. Find your early polling location and times here.
Early voting will be available on campus for voters registered in Fulton County, on October 18-19 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Wardlaw Center.
Election Day is Tuesday, November 8. Anyone who plans to vote in person must vote at their designated polling location. To check your Georgia polling location, visit mvp.sos.ga.gov.
At Georgia polling locations, voters are required to bring a form of ID. Here are the types of accepted identification:
- A Georgia driver's license.
- A photo ID issued by a state or federal government agency.
- A valid U.S. passport.
- An employee ID card containing your photograph and issued by any branch, department, agency, or entity of the U.S. government, Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority, or other entity of Georgia.
- A valid U.S. military ID card.
- A valid tribal ID card.
- If you do not have one of the above forms of ID, the State of Georgia offers a free Voter Identification Card.
Voting from Abroad
Members of the Georgia Tech community who will be out of the country during the voting process can request an absentee ballot through the Federal Voting Assistance Program.
Overview of Important Dates in Georgia
- Sept. 20, 2016: Earliest day for a registrar to mail an absentee ballot (also recommended date to request absentee ballot if not done so already).
- Oct. 11, 2016: Last day to register to be eligible to vote in the November election.
- Oct. 17, 2016: Early in-person voting begins.
- Oct. 29, 2016: Absentee ballots should be submitted as soon as possible.
- Nov. 4, 2016: Deadline for requesting absentee ballots in Fulton County.
- Nov. 8, 2016: Election Day.