You may have gathered that Marlboro College is a community where civic participation is valued. In the same way, we take seriously our responsibilities as citizens of our towns, states and nations. As the college encourages us all to participate in the elections and Town Meetings held on campus, so we want to encourage wide participation in the politics of larger governing entities.
You are probably eligible to vote in local and federal elections if you are at least 18 years old and a citizen of the United States (some states have additional requirements.) You must register before you can vote (except in North Dakota.) If you will be 18 on Election Day in November, you should be able to register now to vote in that election. The deadline and process for registration varies from state to state. You can find a link to election laws and officials in your state at the website of the National Association of Secretaries of State. The best way to learn about the rules in your state and locality is to visit your town or county clerk’s office to register and ask questions. Be sure to take identification and proof of residency when you go to register.
You are required to register at a specific address so that election officials can keep track of their local voters in order to prevent voter fraud, and so that you can participate in the appropriate local and state elections. This address should be your “permanent residence” (you can only have one.) As a college student, you may register as a resident of the Town of Marlboro or as a resident of the town where you lived before starting college (most likely at your parents’ address.)
There are several things to keep in mind when considering where to register: you may need positive identification which includes the address where you are registered, in order to obtain absentee ballots and in some cases in order to vote at the polls. For this reason, you may want to be registered at the address on your driver’s license or other ID (or alternatively, become licensed to drive where you are registered to vote.) You may also want to consider your knowledge of the issues, and your interest in the different races in the places where you might legitimately register.
You can register to vote by mail in most places; however, some states require your physical presence either at registration or when you cast your first ballot. This means you cannot register by mail AND cast your first vote by absentee ballot in some places, so it is worthwhile to register in person before you leave home. When you register you may be able to apply to receive an absentee ballot for the general election. This is worthwhile since your ballot will be sent as soon as it is available and you will have plenty of time to return it. If you request an absentee ballot, have officials mail it to you at the following address: [Your Name] P.O. Box B, Marlboro, VT 05344-0301.
The best way to learn about the rules in your state and locality is to visit your town or county clerk’s office to register and ask questions. If you have questions about voter registration and voting while you are at Marlboro, please visit bookstore manager Rebecca Bartlett, ’79 (firstname.lastname@example.org.)
R. Bartlett, June 2010