Young voters are energized. In poll conducted by SurveyMonkey and Cosmopolitan earlier this year, 60% of young people (ages 18-34) say they’re "absolutely certain" to vote or will probably vote in the upcoming primary elections, and 68 percent said the same of the midterm elections. But, historically, voter turnout among young people is low, particularly in midterm elections. A July 2017 study from the Voter Participation center predicted that turnout among older white voters is expected to decrease 22% from 2016 while turnout among millennials, people of color, and unmarried women could fall 35%.
The midterm elections are November 6, 2018 but many states have primary elections long before then. We want to make sure everyone is armed with the knowledge and information they need to actively participate in the midterm elections.
Even if you want to participate, sometimes you can’t make it to the polls on Election Day. Below is information about who can vote absentee and how to do it.
Who can vote absentee:
According to the Federal Voting Assistance Program, individuals may vote absentee if they are members of the military and their families living outside the United States or a U.S. citizen living overseas who previously lived in the U.S. In some states U.S. citizens born abroad who have never lived in the U.S. may be able to vote absentee. This is determined by the rules of the state where the person’s parent or legal guardian last lived.
In the continental United States, 20 states require a “valid excuse” to apply for an absentee ballot. Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia permit any qualified voter to vote absentee without offering an excuse.
Valid excuses include being a student at a college or university out of state or out of the country, being on business travel or vacation outside of the country or your city of residence on Election Day or having an illness, injury, or disability that prevents someone from getting to a polling place.
How to vote absentee:
The first step in voting absentee is making sure you are registered to vote. If you are in the military or a U.S citizen living overseas longterm you will need to fill out a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to apply for your absentee ballot.
If you don’t fall into either of the two categories listed above, you will need to apply for an absentee ballot through your local election office. You can look up your local election office here. Then search for “Absentee Voting” or “Voting By Mail” and complete the application for an absentee ballot. Make note of your voting residence and the mailing address for your ballot. Then, mail the application to your election office. The address can be found on the website.
The absentee voting process is often state specific but in some states it’s not the only option for those who can’t make it to the polls on Election Day. Thirty-seven states and Washington D.C. allow early voting some in person and others by mail. Washington, Oregon and Colorado are all entirely vote by mail states.
The bottom line, if you have any questions about where and how to vote you should not hesitate to reach out to your local election office. Make sure you are registered to vote and if you are considering voting absentee in a state primary or general election be sure to submit your application as soon as possible.