Making Democracy Work

Voter Information for the College Student

Should you register to vote in your home community or at your college address?

Information to Ponder For College Students

The right to vote is fundamental in a democratic society. The following information will help make it easy for you to exercise this right.

To be eligible to vote, you must be a U.S. citizen who will be at least 18 years old on Election Day, and you must also have registered to vote. Register To Vote

If you are in college, the following information will help you to decide whether to vote in your prior district/state or at your college address. There are many good reasons for registering and voting at either residence, but keep in mind, in most cases the final choice is really yours.

Am I really a resident of my college community?

Yes. Students live in their college towns anywhere from nine to twelve months of the year, often for four years. This means that students are no more transient than the average American family, which typically moves once every four years. Moreover, the U.S. Census Bureau considers students to be residents of their college community. Federal funds are distributed to municipalities based on figures that include the student population.

Students contribute to the college community in many valuable ways. They work as volunteers in a host of civic organizations, help to create jobs in the community, bolster the local economy, and pay sales and gasoline taxes.

Should I register and vote in my college community?

You do have a vested interest in the local issues of your college community. Issues such as off-campus housing and zoning restrictions, the environment, taxes, transportation and personal safety all affect your quality of life. Voting in your college community is more convenient and relieves you of the need to apply for and return an absentee ballot.

Registering and voting at college can give you the opportunity to become involved with, and informed about, the local issues in your college town or city. Becoming involved in the issues, and learning about local politics, are some of the ways in which you can begin to build a relationship with other residents of the community. If you consider the college community your primary residence, you should vote in the community.

It is also possible that you are still subject to taxes and student loan/scholarship regulations at your prior address. If you have a scholarship funded by the state, or a privately funded scholarship designated for a local student, be sure to check the terms of your scholarship before registering in your local college community. You could lose your eligibility.

I am currently registered at my prior address. Am I allowed to reregister in my college community instead of voting by absentee ballot?

In South Carolina, you have the right to vote in your college community, but you cannot be registered to vote in both locations.

Should I register at my prior address?

If you don't consider your college community your primary residence and/or you have a special interest in the local issues at your old address, you have a good reason for voting there. Also, the people and issues you vote for will have a more lasting impact on you if you intend to return to that location to live.

It is also possible that you are still subject to taxes and student loan/scholarship regulations at your prior address. If you have a scholarship funded by the state, or a privately funded scholarship designated for a local student, be sure to check the terms of your scholarship before registering in your local college community. You could lose your eligibility.

Remember, if you want to vote at your prior residence, you must be registered at that address and be aware of absentee ballot regulations and procedures.

Important Student Voter Information

Information specific to college student voter registration can be found here.

NOTE: Should your education institution wish to request a voter education event with the opportunity for students to obtain voter photo identification cards, please contact the South Carolina Election Commission or your county election commission. These must be considered on a case-by-case basis as availability is limited.

A brochure is here that explains current voter ID requirements and how ID requirements have changed under the new law.

Resources for College Students

  • 50-State Student Voting Guide--This guide is designed to help students understand the rules about registering and voting as students in all 50 states and Washington, DC.

  • Campus Vote Project

  • Campus Vote Project Announces Video Contest on Student Voting

    Campus Vote Project Announces Video Contest on Student Voting Today, the Campus Vote Project (CVP), a campaign of the Fair Elections Legal Network, is launching a contest to encourage students and student organizations to send in videos to Campus Vote Project that highlight barriest to voting that students face on their campus, strategies for overcoming them, or why students care about the upcoming election. The winning video will receive a $500 grant for their organization or school to help promote student voting on campus this fall. Unlike any other age group, young adults, particularly college students, face obstacles to get to the polls. They are in new communities and don't know the requirements to register to vote, where to vote, or how to vote absentee back home. It is critical this year that we help students get the information they need to register and vote. These videos will be a great way for students to highlight how important voting is to them. The video could be about why it's important for students to vote this election, efforts on campus to help students get to the polls, plans student groups have taken this year to help students vote, or challenges students on campus face to get to the polls. For more information about the contest, visit http://www.campusvoteproject.org/contest. Here's how to enter: Shoot a 1-2 minute video on student voting. The video should feature parts of campus or the school's mascot. Be creative and original. Upload the video to the Campus Vote Project page. First, "Like" Campus Vote Project. Then click on "Photo/Video" below the Campus Vote Project banner. Upload the video and in the description box put in "Entry for Campus Vote Project Video Contest". Include the school's name and student group in the description as well. Share with friends and others on campus and ask them to come to the Campus Vote Project page and "Like" the video. The contest closes on July 20, 2012 at 11:59 pm EST. The sooner students enter the more opportunities they have to get people to "Like" their video. More information on Campus Vote Project can be found online at http://www.campusvoteproject.org.

  • Rock the Vote

  • Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE)

  • Smackdown Your Vote

  • Download LWVSC brochure on voting as a college student in SC--Have Your Say Your Way, Vote 2012.

  • 2012 Campus Election Engagement Project