Voting Resources for Off-Campus Students
Swarthmore's Get Out the Vote Committee recommends that students studying remotely or taking a leave of absence should register to vote at their home or permanent address, per consultation with nonpartisan organizations including the Fair Elections Center and Campus Vote Project. Election deadlines, dates, and rules vary by state. The resources below will help you register to vote, confirm your registration, and cast your ballot in your state.
- What if I previously registered to vote in Swarthmore?
To increase the likelihood that your ballot is counted, Swarthmore's Get Out the Vote Committee encourages students to register to vote where they expect to be on Election Day. While the Supreme Court has established that students have a right to vote either at their campus residence or at their back-home residence, the unprecedented shift to remote learning this year has led to confusion and uncertainty. To make sure that you are able to cast a ballot — whether in person or by mail — the safest decision is vote in your home state. Update your voter registration.
On campus or living in Swarthmore, Pa.? Consult our helpful resources for how to vote in Swarthmore.
To ensure you won't miss important deadlines for voter registration or requesting a mail-in or absentee ballot, we recommend students who are not on campus this fall sign up for election reminders. Vote.org's Election Reminders will send email and/or text message reminders to register to vote, request a mail-in or absentee ballot, and make a plan to vote on Election Day.
How to Register to Vote
If you will be residing in another state on Election Day, you can complete your voter registration in two minutes at Vote.org. The Campus Vote Project also offers state-specific student voting guides with information including registration deadlines, dates, and rules by state.
If you will not be in Swarthmore but will be in Pennsylvania for Election Day, you may wish to consult our resources for on-campus students. Please note: Pennsylvania's voter registration deadline has passed.
Voter registration deadlines vary state by state and many have already passed. Find your state's voter registration deadlines.
Whether this is your first time registering to vote, you're voting in a new location, or you voted in the last election, it's always a good idea to confirm you are registered to vote. Take 30 seconds to check your registration status.
Whether you vote by mail or in person, you should research what will be on your ballot. In 2020, in addition to the presidential election, there are over 95,000 positions on the ballot across the country. Depending on where you're voting, you may also vote for US House of Representatives, US Senate, governor, state house and/or senate, and referendums or ballot questions.
Due to COVID-19, many states have changed their voter registration deadlines, rules on absentee or mail-in ballots, and/or consolidated or closed polling locations. The situation is changing daily and we encourage you to visit a resource like Vote.org's "Voting & COVID-19" webpage regularly. The safest way to vote in the 2020 General Election is by mail, if that option is available to you in your state.
What is voting by mail?
Voting by mail means you receive a ballot in the mail, fill it out, and return it before or on Election Day. All states will mail a ballot to voters if certain conditions are met. The voter may return the ballot in person or by mail.
- Excuse: Voters in these states will need to provide a valid excuse for not voting in-person on Election Day in order to vote by absentee ballot.
- No excuse: Any voter in these states can vote by absentee/mail-in ballot, even if they are able to vote in person on Election Day.
- Mail-in only: Voters in these states only need to request an absentee ballot if they need their ballot mailed to a different address.
Find out what vote by mail options your state offers. If you will not be in Swarthmore but will be in Pennsylvania for Election Day, you may wish to consult our resources for on-campus students. However, be sure you send your absentee or mail-in ballot request to the correct county election office.
You must be registered to vote in order to receive a mail-in or absentee ballot.
If you will be voting in person during the General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, here are a few helpful reminders:
- Review the CDC's Recommendations on Protecting Yourself and Your Family before going to vote on Election Day.
- Polling locations may be closed or moved due to COVID-19; confirm your polling location before you head to the polls.
- Some states may require voter ID. Check your state's voter ID laws.
- If you are intimidated or challenged when you go to vote in person, or if you have questions or concerns about your voting experience, you can contact Election Protection. Election Protection is a national, nonpartisan coalition that works year-round to ensure that all voters have an equal opportunity to vote and have that vote count. Call the voter protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE or visit their website: 866ourvote.org