A Mercer student’s guide to voting absentee

Archive+graphic+designed+by+Marianna+Bacallao.

Archive graphic designed by Marianna Bacallao.

Mercer students concerned about going to the polls during a pandemic can now request an absentee ballot online. Anticipating record numbers of absentee voters this election season, Georgia’s Secretary of State office launched a ballot request website Aug. 28. 

Any Georgia voter is eligible to request to vote absentee, and as the presidential election is just over a month away, students should begin making their voting plan sooner rather than later. Here are five steps for voting absentee. 

Register to vote

Georgia allows online voter registration. Voter eligibility guidelines can be found on the Georgia Secretary of State website. Think you’re too busy to register? It just takes five minutes on Vote.org. Once you’re registered, get two more friends to register! The deadline to register online to vote in the general election is Oct. 5. 

Request an absentee ballot

Georgia’s new ballot request website offers a simple, streamlined process for requesting an absentee ballot. You’ll just need to provide your full name, birth date, county and driver’s license or state ID number. After entering this information, the website will prompt you to provide the address where you want the ballot to be mailed. You can also provide an email address to receive confirmation that your request has been received. Absentee ballot requests must be received by Oct. 30, though election officials recommend that you submit a ballot request early in case any issues arise. 

Complete your ballot

Election officials will begin mailing absentee ballots in mid-September. If you don’t receive one, contact your county registrar. Your ballot will come with instructions for filling it out. Not sure who to vote for? Visit Ballotpedia for a breakdown of candidate platforms, or take a quiz on ISideWith to find which candidate matches your beliefs. 

Mail your ballot to your county election office 

Along with your ballot, you’ll receive the necessary envelopes and instructions for returning your ballot. Your completed ballot must be received by Election Day, Nov. 3. The United States Postal Service recommends allowing at least one week for your ballot to be delivered, so plan on mailing your ballot by Oct. 27, if possible. 

Verify that your ballot was accepted

Georgia’s online My Voter Page allows voters to check the status of their absentee ballot. If your ballot was rejected, contact your county registrar to find out what to do next. If it was accepted, congratulations! You’ve done your civic duty.

Out-of-state students looking to vote absentee can find state-by-state guides to the 2020 election at FiveThirtyEight

Not convinced voting is worth it? Consider the political issues that many young people are concerned about today: climate change, racial injustice, police brutality, healthcare, LGBTQIA+ rights, the post-graduation job market, even TikTok’s place in America. Voting gives us real power to make our voices heard.

According to 2016 Census data, young people are outvoted by other age groups, leaving us out of the political process. Our opinions are dismissed as naive, and our words are ignored unless we take them to the ballot box. This year, we have a chance to make change. Your vote matters. Mercerians, let’s make our voices heard in November.