Election Day can be confusing for college students. Here are five things you need to know about voting in Idaho.
1. You can register to vote on Election Day
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Idaho is one of 22 states to implement same-day voter registration. In states with same-day registration, you can register to vote and cast your ballot at the same time.
All you need is a form of photo ID — like a driver’s license or I-card — and proof of residency in Idaho for at least 30 days. This could be a utility bill, credit card statement or housing contract.
You can also participate in same-day registration during the early voting process.
2. Your address determines which voting precinct you live in
Madison county is divided into 19 voting precincts. Each precinct has a designated polling place such as Rexburg City Hall or Madison High School.
For example, residents of University View or Centre Square would vote at Rexburg City Hall. Residents of Sundance or The Cove would vote at the Senior Citizens Center.
3. You can vote early
If you are busy with classes or work on Nov. 8, you still have an opportunity to vote. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 46 states provide this opportunity to busy voters.
Early voting will be available until Nov. 4 at the county clerk’s office. It will be open from 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and will stay open until 5 p.m. on Nov. 4.
On election day, polling places will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
4. As a college student, you can only vote in one state
Voting in two places is a federal crime. Deciding which state — Idaho or your home state — to vote in can be influenced by a lot of factors.
“I think it really depends on where you feel like is home to you,” said Hailey Burton, a freshman studying political science. “If you’re going to BYU-Idaho and you’re spending fall, winter and spring here, I think it might be better to vote in Idaho just because you’re spending more of your time there. Your vote will matter more where you’re living.”
Residency requirements for each state might also impact which state you want to vote in. The county clerk’s office works with students wanting to vote in Idaho and seeks to answer their questions.
“We try to just educate them first,” said Kim Muir, a Madison County clerk. “If they’re on scholarship or if their state requires them to be a resident to get certain tax dollars back, it does pull their registration from their home state so it can mess up scholarships and stuff. They’re welcome to come and register to vote here, but we just want them to understand that there can be problems if they do.”
If students have questions about where the best place for them to vote is, there are resources for them.
“We don’t know every state and what their residency requirements are,” said Brenda Stoor, the election director for Madison County. “It would be best if they just call their county clerk from where they were from just to see, ‘If I register in Idaho what is this going to do if I come back? If I go to school in BYU-Idaho and then I want to go back and do some more in BYU-Provo, what is that going to do?’ But we will do our best to help.”
However, these factors aren’t intended to influence students to cast or not cast votes this November.
“We don’t want to discourage anyone from voting at all,” Muir said. “We want them to vote, but we just want them to understand the ramifications of that.”
5. Take the time to educate yourself on who is running
Muir and Stoor emphasized the extra attention college students should put on becoming educated voters.
“They do need to educate themselves so they know what they’re voting for,” Muir said. “Learn what the candidates stand for, learn what they’re campaigning on, look deep into their histories. If you’re going to register to vote, you need to vote every election, whether it’s a presidential year or a school election. It’s still important, but we love it when they’re educated and know exactly what they’re voting for.”
Stoor warned of the future impact being a politically uneducated college student has on the Rexburg community.
“If a student is here for a semester or two and they vote uneducated, then they leave having voted on something that is not good because they just marked whatever, that is hard on our county,” Stoor said. “Be educated, because we have to continue to live here. We’re not here just for a semester.”
You can figure out more details on elections in Madison county here.