I live in an apartment near UNF, but my permanent address is back home. As a college student, what’s the best way to vote in the 2020 presidential election?

Don't make the same mistake I did. I never voted in the 2012 Presidential election and I wish I could go back and do it all over again. 

I was a sophomore at The University of Florida and was living in my first apartment – I had only been living at my new address for a couple of months. Are you in a similar situation at UNF? The deadlines have come and gone. I had officially waited too long to update my address or request an absentee ballot, so I debated making the two-hour drive back from to my designated polling location near Orlando to vote. But, in the midst of feeling too busy with classes and studying ... I never did.

Make sure you're registered to vote and request an absentee ballot, or head to the polls for early voting or on election day. This is your first chance to make your vote count in a Presidential election, don't miss it!

The process of registering to vote and learning the ropes for the first time can be overwhelming. Add in a major life change like moving away from home and starting college, preparing to vote can feel extremely complicated. We helped you throughout your apartment search to find your college apartment – the least we can do is help you figure out how to vote at your new address.

Following these steps and meeting the below deadlines will have you ready to vote this election:

Step 1: Decide where you want to register to vote.

Out-of-state UNF students will need to decide if they want to register to vote in their hometown state or the state of Florida. In making this decision, a UNF Osprey might consider factors such as:

• Local issues that might impact you during your time at UNF
• Ease of absentee voting in your home state
• Swing/battleground state status

In-state UNF students, don't have to worry about those decisions. Continue to step 2 and simply make sure you are registered to vote in Florida.

Step 2: Register to Vote OR Update Your Address

Not registered yet? The deadline to register online to vote is Monday, October 5, 2020. To register, visit Florida's Voter Registration Website: https://registertovoteflorida.gov/ and click "New Registration".

Are you already registered to vote in Florida? Double-check your voter status here: https://registration.elections.myflorida.com/CheckVoterStatus.

What address are you registered to vote at?

University of North Florida students have the legal right to choose to register to vote at their UNF address or home address.

If you choose to register to vote at your home address, be sure to request an absentee ballot in Step 3.

If you choose to register to vote at your UNF apartment address, you have the choice to request a mail-in ballot OR vote in person at a polling location.

If you want to update your address to your UNF student apartment, visit Florida's Voter Registration Website: https://registertovoteflorida.gov/ and click "Record Update/Change".

Step 3: Go and VOTE!

Option 1: Vote by Mail (Request an Absentee Ballot to be Mailed to Your UNF Apartment Address)

This option will be best for most University of North Florida students!

Which UNF students should request an absentee ballot?

  1. Request an absentee ballot if you are registered to vote at your home address but want to vote by mail from your UNF apartment.
  2. A UNF student might request an absentee ballot if they prefer to mail in their vote instead of visiting the polls in person.

How to request an absentee ballot:
You'll request an absentee ballot via your county's Supervisor of Elections office. Select your county from the list here, then find the section on your Supervisor of Elections' website. Enter the address you're registered to vote at and the address where you want to receive your absentee ballot.

What is the deadline to request an absentee ballot?
For voters registered in Florida, the deadline to request an absentee ballot is TEN days before the election, Saturday, October 24, 2020. Don't procrastinate, just follow the link to request your absentee ballot right now and you won't have to worry about the deadline.

States have different requirements, and this article would be too long if we listed them all! If you'll be voting based on your home state, simply select your state from the dropdown at this link to learn about your home state's absentee voting deadlines: https://www.nass.org/can-i-vote/absentee-early-voting

Can I drop off my mail-in absentee ballot in person?

You can only drop off a mail-in ballot to your local supervisor of elections. In other words, if you are registered to vote in Tallahassee and want to drop off an absentee ballot in person, you can only drop it off in your county. To drop off an absentee ballot in person, visit any of the polling places during early voting and drop it off. Another alternative, (for example, if you missed the deadline), is to exchange the mail-in ballot at your assigned polling place for an in-person ballot on election day.

Option 2: Vote in Person at a Polling Location near UNF

This option will only work for students who are registered to vote at their UNF apartment address.

If you chose to register at your local University of North Florida apartment address, you can vote at a polling place near campus! Find your polling place on the Duval County Supervisor of Elections website by entering your address here: https://www.duvalelections.com/Voter-Information/Precinct-Finder#where

Since social distancing precautions will still likely be in place during the election, be sure to pack up your mask, hand sanitizer, and your fellow roommates and classmates and head to your polling location. (You can also encourage one another to make sure you've remembered to mail in your ballot if you have chosen an alternate voting method!) If you're voting in person, avoid crowds by voting during early voting days (Saturday October 24 – Saturday October 31st) – just double-check the hours that your polling place offers for early voting. Or, get the full Election Day experience and visit your polling place on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020!

These are the opinions of writers and not the opinions of RentJax.com or any of our advertising partners.