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Election 2020: A guide to voting for out-of-state students

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Lauren Salgado | The Daily Wildcat Campaign signs placed on the side of Grant Road heading east in Tucson, Ariz., Monday, Sept. 21.

Registering to vote can be confusing, especially if you’re an out-of-state student. With talk of local elections being so important while social injustice issues are more prominent along with concerns of COVID-19 affecting cities and states, voting locally seems more critical than ever. Here’s a guide to registering to vote for out-of-state students.

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Before you register to vote in Arizona

Many students assume that registering to vote in their new place of residence will be easy, but there are a few things you should check out before doing so.

First, check with the scholarship office before you register to vote in Tucson. Changing your place of residency could affect your scholarship, so it is best to check before you make the move. 

Another problem that has been raised while registering to vote in Tucson is whether you are claimed as a dependent or not in another state. Some students’ parents may claim them as a dependent on taxes and certain states have rules about whether or not dependents can vote in a different state. You can check this link to see the specific rules for each state on whether or not registering to vote in Tucson will affect your parents’ ability to claim you as a dependent in the state your parents reside. 

If you are not 18 yet, but will be by election day, you are still eligible to register to vote in Arizona! The deadline for registration is Monday, Oct. 5. 

How to register

You can register to vote through the Pima County Recorder’s Office website, which will take you through the registration process. If you are already registered to vote, but not in Tucson, you can update your voter information here as well. 

You can also register to vote through Get Out The Vote's affiliate website, a grassroots, non-partisan voting initiative run by UA law students. If you register with this link, you will also be able to receive updates from Get Out The Vote on upcoming deadlines and other reminders. 

What are Absentee Ballots and How Do I Get One?

Absentee ballots are ballots meant for people who are not available to physically be in their state or county to vote locally. If you are not able to register to vote in Tucson, but are registered to vote in a different state, requesting an absentee ballot will allow you to vote locally in your permanent place of residence.

If you do request and receive an absentee ballot, you will not be able to drop it off at a voting site in Pima County. Check with the recorder’s office where you are requesting a ballot from, how to get one and the deadline for returning it to make sure your vote will be counted. Rules vary by state on who is able to receive an absentee ballot or not, so make sure you check if you are able to here. 

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Early ballots 

When you register to vote in Tucson, you will also be able to sign up to receive an early, or mail-in, ballot. Once you register for an early ballot you are permanently registered and will not need to request one for the next elections. Early ballot drop off and emergency voting sites are available all over Tucson for those registered to vote in Pima County. 

According to Christina Billhartz, a UA law student with Get Out The Vote, mail-in ballots, as well as absentee ballots, should be sent in as soon as possible due to the current uncertainty of the postal service.

The deadline to register for an early ballot is also Oct. 5, but you can request one up until Oct. 23 if you are not on the permanent early ballot list. Early voting will be taking place from Oct. 7 through Oct. 23. Absentee ballots should also be sent back to the original recorder’s office as soon as possible. 


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UA COVID-19 Test Tracker

Daily (10/20)
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Includes tests since August 4, 2020
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated October 20, 2020