I like to think of the dawn of a new school year as a fresh start. It’s a new year with new people and new possibilities. But getting started on the right foot takes some work, and what better foot to start on than a politically informed and active one? It may seem bothersome, but adding one more task to your back-to-school to-do list won’t hurt: registering to vote, or checking your voter registration status online.
Registering to vote and staying that way at a younger age has long-term benefits because voting behavior is habit-forming. If you vote, you will likely keep voting. If you don’t vote, you probably won’t start. It’s important for us as young adults to create a habit of voting and to engage in civic activities. Adding voter registration to your back-to-school checklist helps create that habit and establishes a routine of making sure your name is on the rolls.
If you’re already registered to vote, checking your registration status online takes less than two minutes. There are many websites that make the process simple and quick; my favorite is vote.org. This online tool will also tell you the address you are registered at, which you may need to update if you’ve recently moved.
If you’re not registered to vote, don’t worry. It’s relatively easy for most students to start. As long as you meet the requirements, there’s no excuse for not registering. You can do it online or by mail. A simple Google search will take you to an online form where you can register.
If you moved away from home to attend school, you have options. You can choose to register to vote in either your hometown or Topeka, but you can’t be registered in both locations. If you decide to register in your hometown, you’ll need to plan on signing up for an absentee ballot on Election Day.
Why should you be registered to vote in the first place? Because your vote is your voice. It’s one of the most effective ways to communicate with your government, and it matters. For example, local offices are often on the ballot, and a few votes can make the final decision. Local governments have a direct impact on things like student debt, your college community, funding for higher education and the economy.
You have the power to make a difference. An important way to do so is by making your voice heard at the polls. Taking the time to register to vote or check your voter registration status this back-to-school season is a surefire way to start the year on the right track.
Edited by Adam White, Jason Morrison, Jessica Galvin,