The mid-term election on Nov. 6 could change the United States. Elected positions in the U.S. House of Representatives and some United States Senate seats will be filled by voters.
People around campus, specifically Penn State Altoona’s Student Government Association, have been encouraging students to vote for their preferred politician. But what if an out-of-state won’t make it home in time to vote on Nov. 6?
Luckily for people who aren’t living in their primary state during election season, each state government office offers absentee ballots. The deadline to submit an absentee ballot for the Nov. 6 primary is Oct. 30 in many states, so it’s best to start this process very soon.
An absentee ballot is different from registering to vote. If you haven’t registered to vote, then you are unable to fill out an absentee ballot and cannot vote in this mid-term election. Most states require registration about 30 days before the election, so registration deadlines were in early October.
Certain states require excuses in order to apply for an absentee ballot, while other states accept all absentee ballot applications without a reason. Pennsylvania requires an excuse when applying for an absentee ballot. Although absentee voting has state-dependent rules, Sarah Seymour, the director of elections at the Blair County Courthouse, said that absentee voting is as simple as “send(ing) an application and address” to your permanent county’s election office. An acceptable excuse is that you will not be in your hometown on election day.
The process behind receiving an absentee ballot first starts with a person who will not be at home on election day registering to vote under their permanent address. As explained above, the registration deadline is past.
Here is a example to explain how to get and use an absentee voting ballot.
Let’s say that Phil Primary permanently lives in Arkansas, but moved to Pennsylvania to attend Penn State Altoona. Phil registered to vote in Arkansas when he turned 18 years old, and wants to vote in the Nov. 6 election. But Phil is unable to go home to vote on Nov. 6.
Instead of missing the chance to vote on Nov. 6, Phil can vote with an absentee ballot.
Phil should contact the county courthouse of his hometown to request an absentee ballot be mailed to him. Many counties have websites which allow voters to request an absentee ballot by filling out an online form. An online request might be the best option now, as the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is Oct. 30 for many states.
After Phil has properly applied for an absentee ballot, he should watch his mail.
Phil, a Penn State Altoona student whose permanent address is in Arkansas, will have an absentee ballot mailed to him at Penn State Altoona. It might take a few days or even a week to receive the ballot in the mail.
Keeping in mind that the election is Tuesday, Nov. 6, Phil should fill out his ballot and mail it back to the country courthouse in Arkansas. That completes his voting in the Nov. 6 elections.
Many states have websites which can be used to request an absentee ballot. Students who have a permanent address within Pennsylvania but who will not be home on Nov. 6 to vote can request an absentee ballot by going to https://www.votespa.com and click on “Apply for Absentee Ballot.”