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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

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Voter Registration 101: How to sign up as a college student


Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

As a college student, it’s all too easy to find yourself caught up in the social and academic demands of life at UH. It’s still important, however, to be aware of the world outside campus and the role you have to play in it. That being said, one of the most important responsibilities of being an adult in the U.S. is voting. This article will walk you through the process of registering to vote step-by-step, so you’re fully prepared to make your voice heard come November. 

Requirements

Before we continue there are a few things you should be aware of, as well as some information you’ll need to have on hand before you register to vote. In order to register to vote in Harris County, you will need to meet a few requirements. 

First, you must be a U.S citizen as well as a resident of the county in which the application for registration is made. 

Second, while you can register to vote two months before your 18th birthday, you must be 18 in order to actually vote. 

Third, you cannot register if you have been convicted of a felony or have been declared mentally incompetent in a court of law. 

A final caveat for out-of-state students is that they may either vote in their home precinct via an absentee ballot or they can update their registration to vote in Harris County. It is important to note, however, that registering in two states at the same time is illegal.

Additionally, ensure you have access to documents such as your Social Security card and birth certificate as you may need information from them.

Step 1: Find the form

The first step in dealing with anything involving government bureaucracy is finding and filling out the correct paperwork. Luckily as a UH student, this step has been made easier for you thanks to the 1998 Higher Education Act. This law mandates that all post-secondary institutions make a “good-faith effort” to distribute voter registration forms to students. According to the UH website, forms are available to students at the Student Center South Information Center, the Student Center North commons desk, the Dean of Students Office and the management office of every on-campus residence.

Step 2: Fill out, turn in the form

OK, so you meet the requirements, you have the form, now what? From here on out all you really need to do is ensure you fill out the form correctly (failure to do so can result in being turned away at the ballot box) and locate a nearby elections office to return it to. 

According to the Harris County voter registration site, the closest elections office to the University is at Palm Center, located at 5300 Griggs Road. Another important thing to note here is that you have until Oct. 8 to submit your form if you wish to vote in the Nov. 8 midterm elections.

That’s it!

Congratulations, you are now a registered voter! While this process may seem relatively simple, if you are unable to make it to an elections office due to lack of transportation or scheduling conflicts, just keep an eye out for voter registration events on campus! There are a wide array of organizations that host events designed solely to get students registered to vote such as the Student Government Association’s “2000 Voters 2022” registration event on Sept. 19-22.

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