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2012 Voting Guide for College Students

Learn the What, When, Where, Why, How -- and Who

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Between trying to figure out when to vote, where to vote, and for whom to vote, casting your ballot as a college student can be pretty complicated. Add midterms, finals, exams, lab reports, research papers, a job, and more to the mix and you have one potentially overwhelming situation.

Fortunately, figuring out how to vote as a college student isn't quite as complicated as it might seem at first. If you know where to go for more information, you can approach election day with confidence, knowing you're taking your right to vote seriously and voting as an informed, empowered citizen.

Why Should I Bother to Vote?

In addition to your ability to vote being a hard-earned right in this country, your status as a college student puts you in a unique position as a voter. Who else is going to vote to represent the voice(s) of such an important constituency? What other group of people do you expect will vote with your concerns first and foremost? If you don't vote for college students and their needs, who will?

Still not convinced? Read 10 reasons why your vote as a college student really matters.

How Do I Actually Go About Casting My Vote While I'm in College?

Trying to figure out how to vote -- logistically speaking -- can be a pain in the brain during your time in school. Perhaps most importantly is figuring out where you'd like to vote and going from there. Some students vote absentee in elections back home; some students vote in their new college town. Regardless, knowing the logistics about how to vote as a college student is critically important during any election year. (And it's especially important to figure out these details sooner rather than later!)

When Exactly Is Election Day This Year?

Election Day in 2012 takes place on Tuesday, November 6th. But if you're voting absentee, you might have certain requirements about when your vote needs to arrive back at the election office or by when it needs to be postmarked. Make sure you know the deadlines for whichever voting process you're participating in; after all your effort, it would be a shame to have your ballot not count because of a deadline issue.

Okay, I'll Vote. But I'm Not Sure for Whom ...

Casting your ballot -- especially in a presidential election -- is a powerful way to make a real difference in your life and the lives of others. (Student loan rate increases or Pell Grant changes, anyone?) If you aren't sure for whom you'd like to vote, spend a few minutes checking out reliable sources of information about each candidate:

I'm Still Not Sure. When Are the Debates Again?

The presidential debates can be a great way for you to see the candidates in action, see how they react to pressure, learn more details about their policies and positions, and overall assess them as candidates. The presidential candidates debate three times; the vice presidential candidates debate only once; all of the debates happen in October. Make sure you know when the debates are scheduled so that you don't miss out.

Now I'm Totally Fired Up! How Else Can I Be Politically Active as a College Student?

Being politically active during your college years (if not after!) can be a highly rewarding experience. Juggling your college requirements with your activism, however, can be a bit of a challenge, especially in the months leading up to election. So just what can you do?

Keep in mind, too, that the power of the college student vote increases with each student who submits a ballot on election day. It doesn't matter if you're not sure how to vote or if you're ready to convince all of your friends to vote just like you plan to: grab as many people as you can and do your part to get out the vote!

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