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Starting the path to being politically active

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As college starts this year, local mayoral elections are occurring in August, and more broad-scale elections are starting to peek over the horizon. That being said, getting engaged in politics can be difficult when away at college, in or out of state.

According to the Huffington Post, students are up to 5 percent less politically active than they used to be over the last four decades. One way to combat this falling number is being registered to vote in your state.

Murphy Hebert, the director of communications for the Arizona secretary of state, said in an email, there are three ways that residents of Arizona can go about getting registered: online at www.servicearizona.edu, by mailing in a form and in person at a county recorder’s office. 

For those who are already Arizona residents, the process to register for voting is fairly simple. According to Hebert, you must simply supply proof of identification, such as a driver’s license or birth certificate when registering. However, for those who cannot produce an approved document, one can become “federal-only” voters “if they swear or affirm under penalty of perjury on the registration form that they are a U.S. citizen,” Hebert said. 

In order for Arizona in-state students to vote in elections, they must be registered by 29 days before the election date. If an out-of-state student wants to vote in Arizona, they must be an Arizona resident for at least 29 days before the election.

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That being said, becoming a resident of Arizona can be tricky for out-of-state students. According to the UA Office of the Registrar, to become a resident, you must have physical presence for at least one year, financial dependence, means of income and ability to file taxes in Arizona. 

Once students and residents are registered to vote, it is important to keep an eye out on when election dates and locations are. According to Hebert, voting polls are announced 20 days prior to election day. 

That being said, students not from Arizona can still register to vote in their home state by declaring an absentee ballot. 

“Out-of-state students should contact their home state’s elections department or Secretary of State’s Office,” Hebert said in email about how out-of-state students should go about registering to vote. 

Often times the application for an absentee ballot can be found on the home state’s election department website and can be sent to the students where they are. The only stipulation for absentee ballot voting is that it needs to be mailed back to the secretary of state’s office before election day. 

“College students can include their dorm address on their voter registration form, but not a forwarding address,” Hebert said via email. “Official election mail will not be mailed to forwarding addresses provided by the Post Office. However, students can make a request to their recorder’s office to have their ballot mailed to a temporary address.”

Registering to vote in your home state is a great way to get politically engaged in college. Participating in local and national scale politics can help boost one’s understanding of the world around them. 

As this next semester starts and a new wave of elections begins, consider getting politically involved and register to vote. 

Hebert said that the best advice she can give students who are looking to get politically involved is to make sure their voter information is up to date in advance and that if they have moved and/or changed political parties, they should visit their recorder’s office to update their voter registration information. 


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