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Are you a college student in Minnesota? Here's how to vote in Nov. 8 elections

Students who recently moved to college can update the address on their voter registration or request an absentee ballot.

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University of Minnesota students register to vote Nov. 4, 2014, at Grace University Lutheran Church on the university campus in Minneapolis.
Judy Griesedieck / MPR News 2014
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ST. PAUL — Attending college often means packing up and moving to a new place for the first time. The majority of college students are able to vote, but some may be wondering how to cast their vote in the upcoming Nov. 8 midterm election.

College students often have more than one address — the address of their college dorm or apartment, and the address of their permanent residence (this is often a parent’s or guardian’s home). But individuals can only vote from one address, meaning students need to choose which one they will use to place their vote.

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Hundreds of students at the University of Minnesota, including first-time voters like Madison Meinke, came to take part in democracy on Election Day Nov. 6, 2018. "I was nervous that I wouldn't know what to do or where to go," Meinke said about her first time voting. "But it was really easy."
Jiwon Choi / MPR News

Voting eligibility

If you’ve recently moved for college, especially to a new state, it’s a good idea to double check the voting eligibility requirements in this area. These requirements are relatively consistent from state to state, with all requiring you to be 18 years old and a U.S. citizen.

Many states also impose restrictions banning convicted felons from being able to vote.

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Brock Starley, an 18-year-old Minnesota West Community and Technical College pre-med student, voted for the first time Nov. 3, 2020, in Worthington, Minnesota. Despite the pandemic, he wanted to cast his ballot in person and do his duty as a citizen to vote.
Hannah Yang / MPR News

Deciding which address to use

For college students with more than one address, the first step is to decide which address you want to use to vote. This will influence whether you need to change or update your voter registration.

You can check you voter registration status through this online portal. This will also show which address you are currently registered to vote with.

If you’ve moved to a new place within the same state and want to use your new address to vote, you can go online to update your registration.

If you’ve moved to a new state for school and want to vote with this new address, you’ll need to register to vote in your new state. Keep in mind that each state has their own residency requirements for voting.

In Minnesota, you are required to reside in the state for 20 days before you become eligible to vote here. If you moved to Minnesota for college in September, as is common, you could register to vote with your school address.

Also, be aware that registration deadlines vary in each state.

If you’re already registered to vote with a different address or in a different state, you can opt to vote from this area instead of updating or changing your registration.

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A student snaps a picture of a code to an online voter registration form as Secretary of State Steve Simon looks on Sept. 20, 2022, at St. Thomas College in St. Paul.
Brian Bakst / MPR News

Placing your vote

Option one: If you’re using your permanent address to vote, the easiest thing to do is to apply for an absentee ballot, since it may be difficult to travel back to this area or state to vote in person.

After applying for an absentee ballot, your local elections office will send it to you through the mail. From there, complete and mail it back with enough time to spare before Election Day.

Option two: If you updated your voter registration to use your school address, it’s now time to place your vote early or locate your polling place. There are usually several located on or near college campuses.

The most important thing to remember is that you can only register to vote in one locality (registering with more than one address is considered voter fraud). It’s up to you to decide where to place your vote.

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