Opinions, Editorials

The Heights Editorial Board: How to Vote in the 2020 Election

In the 2016 election, voter turnout among college students increased to 48.4 percent, from 45.4 percent in the 2012 election, according to a Tufts University study. Today, nearly four out of five young people say that the coronavirus pandemic has made them realize politics affects their everyday lives. Three out of five believe they are part of a movement that will vote to express its views, and 83 percent believe they have real power to make change. 

These numbers are encouraging. But in order for young people to actually have the power to change the country, they need to vote. This year, more U.S. citizens than ever will be eligible to utilize absentee ballots or the mail-in ballot system. While college students are able to register in their home states or the state where they attend school, students this year should register at home. If schools close due to a COVID-19 outbreak before election day, it’s unclear whether students registered at their dorm address will still be able to cast their ballots.

This year, there won’t be any get out the vote rallies or voter registration parties to attend—not in person, at least. BC students need to take it upon themselves to make sure they get their ballots in on time. If you’re unsure of how to register, apply for an absentee ballot, or vote, check out our voting guide below.

How do I check if I am registered to vote?

Check your voter status here. Individual states, including Massachusetts, also have platforms to check voter registration status.

I’m not registered to vote. What should I do?

Register to vote in your home state here. Deadlines for registration vary by state. The deadline to register online, by mail, or in person in Massachusetts is Oct. 24. Find your state’s deadlines for in-person and online registration at vote.gov

How do I know if my state offers online registration?

Check at vote.gov.

I’m registered to vote in Massachusetts. What do I do next?

If you will be voting in person on Election Day, find your polling place here. If you would like to request an absentee ballot, click here

I’m registered to vote in my home state (not Massachusetts). What do I do next?

Request an absentee ballot from the state you are registered in. The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot varies by state. 

What’s the difference between an absentee ballot and a mail-in ballot?

Both refer to ballots that are delivered to voters by mail. The two terms are used interchangeably, although some states will use one over the other.

Will I receive an absentee ballot by mail automatically? If not, do I need an excuse to get one?

It varies by state. Check this New York Times interactive map to see what the policies are for your state. 

How do I return my ballot?

Mail your ballot or drop it off at your polling place. Deadlines for postmarking vary by state. 

I’m still confused. Where can I look to learn more about voting for my state?

  • Visit The New York Timesinteractive resource on how to vote in the 2020 election. 
  • Look at TurboVote, which Boston College has partnered with, for information on your voter status and how to vote this November. 

A group of Heights editors who are committed to participating in the consistent writing of editorials comprise the editorial board. Editors who report on topics discussed in editorials are not permitted to participate in the discussion or writing of the editorial.

Members: Colleen Martin, Abby Hunt, Maddie Haddix, Brooke Kaiserman, Meegan Minahan, Jillian Ran, Danny Flynn, and Rachel Phelan.

September 28, 2020