How to Vote as a College Student


Aviva Vic Maxon ’24
Staff Writer

Everywhere you look, there is an election happening. From political advertisements to ballot boxes, it seems like the only thing I see is the upcoming election. 

Primaries, crucial for choosing the presidential nominees and putting forth the best candidates for local and statewide elections, will be underway as we look ahead to November.

In some areas where one party is extremely dominant, the primary can also function as the election — if a district is almost guaranteed to vote blue, the primary matters most in choosing who represents you. Primaries are at different times in each state. California, alongside 14 other states, is hosting its primary on March 5. If you are a resident of California, you can still vote in person or by mail-in ballot until that date. Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about the mechanics of voting. 

Am I eligible to vote? 

United States citizens who are 18 years or older are eligible to vote. If you are unsure of your citizenship, immigration status, or eligibility for any other reason, there are resources available to you at 

How do I know if I’m registered to vote?  

You can check your voter registration on your state’s Secretary of State website. Just search, Secretary of State of your state, and there should be a voters portal. Other organizations like also can help you check your registration status. 

How do I know where I am registered to vote? 

If you have voted before, you should be registered at the location you last voted. For many of us, that is our parent’s house. Generally, one is initially registered to the address on their driver’s license or other state-issued ID card. You can check on your Secretary of State’s website. 

Should I register at home or Scripps?

This is totally up to you! If you are not from California, you will have to change your residency, which means you will have to get a new driver’s license or other state-issued ID. It also means you will pay California state income taxes instead of your home state’s. If you are from California, your ID and taxes will not change if you change your registration. 

You should also think about the issues you care about in your community. Where is your community? I personally feel more connected to and responsible for the community I grew up in, so it is important to me that I vote in those elections. I know others who are more integrated in the Inland Empire and choose to vote here. 

There is no right or wrong answer. Oftentimes, students from swing states like to stay registered in their home state to sway elections, particularly since Claremont is in a solidly blue district. That being said, votes in Claremont still matter, especially on the local level. 

How do I request a mail-in ballot?  

You can request a mail-in ballot two ways: either by sending in an application for a mail-in ballot by mail to your Secretary of State or by filling out the application online. The online form is generally faster and more convenient. also has resources to help you request your ballot. Some states send ballots automatically, others send them upon request, and others only allow mail-in ballots for specific reasons. All of that information should be available on the Secretary of State website. 

How do I know who to vote for? 

Research your candidates! This can seem like a daunting task, but there are lots of organizations to help you. Many cities and/or counties and non-profits put out voting guides where the candidates have answered questions to help you determine who will best serve your community. 

Organizations like the League of Women Voters, VOTE 411, and Ballot Ready all provide area-specific voting guides. VOTE 411 and Ballot Ready are non-partisan, while League of Women Voters is a special interest group focused on women’s rights and needs. Local papers and TV stations often have candidate information and Q&As available for local elections. 

Does my vote matter? 

Yes. Voting is one of the most important tools for civic engagement we have. As citizens, it is our right and responsibility to engage with our government so that it can serve the most people as effectively as possible. Municipal, county, and state elections matter and are direct voting. Be an active citizen. Vote. 

I vote because I want to participate in my government, help make a change in my community, and push our government to live up to its ideals. Voting is not the only way to engage with the government, but it is the way that reminds us, The People, that the government is supposed to serve us. 

If the government is not serving The People, we have the right and responsibility to change it. Other ways to be civically engaged include contacting representatives, running for office, protesting (when necessary), and attending city council meetings. We are so lucky to have a voice in our government. We should use it. 

Voting does not have to be confusing or difficult, and there are resources to help you. The Laspa Center for Leadership will be holding events around voting and civic engagement later this semester as well as in the future. They also have voter information and would be happy to help you register or answer any other questions you have about voting. Stop by the office in Seal Court (next to CP&R) or email 

Maxon is an Intern at The Laspa Center focusing on civic engagement.

Image Source: Ella Lehavi ’24

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