Are you registered to vote?

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Franchesca Perez
Staff Writer

A voter registration drive was held on campus by the Student Teams Advocating Realistic Solutions, or STARS, in partnership with the Student Government Association on Thursday, Oct. 29.

Members of the STARS committee and SGA set up a table at the Trojan Center with voter registration forms and provided help to students filling out the forms.

According to Ansley Markwell, a senior human services major from Montgomery and director of the STARS committee, approximately 50 students were successfully registered through the drive.

To be eligible for voting registration, one must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old by the time of the election and a resident of the jurisdiction where the registration is taking place. State-specific felony conviction laws may also apply.

The registration drive was held in preparation for the upcoming primaries for the Republican and Democratic parties on March 1, 2016, as well as for the general election on Nov. 8, 2016.

“As a whole, our generation is not characterized by political involvement,” Markwell said, discussing the importance of students’ political involvement. “Many would rather post on Facebook and complain about what needs to change rather than doing anything about it.

“It seems like almost everyone is calling for change. I believe that change can start with one person — you. You never know how your actions can affect the world around you.”

Hayden Lee, a junior biomedical sciences major from Dothan and director of public relations and marketing for STARS, said she had similar thoughts.

“I think it is important for college students to vote because we are the future of this country,” Lee said. “Unless we want to inherit a mess when it comes time for us to be leaders, whether it be on a local or national level, we need to start getting involved now.”

There are several ways students can register to vote. The first way is to visit vote.usa.gov to look at the procedure of voter registration in your state.

Many states like Georgia and Virginia have an online voter registration portal.

For other states like Alabama and Florida, one can fill out the national mail voter registration form available on the website, print it and mail it to the local election office where he or she would like to vote.

For students who would like to vote in Pike County, individuals can pick up registration forms from the registrars’ office, located in the courthouse at 120 W. Church St. in room B2.

Upon successful registration, the voter will receive a card in the mail acknowledging that he or she is registered to vote.

Eligible citizens may register to vote all year, except during the 14 days prior to an election and on election day.

The 2016 voter registration deadlines are Feb. 12 for the primaries and Oct. 24 for the general election.

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, or CIRCLE, reported on its website that only 19.9 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds voted in the 2014 elections.

According to CIRCLE, that statistic is the lowest youth percentage ever recorded in a federal election.

While Alabama does not have provision for early voting if voters are unable to go to the polls in person on Election Day as do states like Florida and Georgia, they may be eligible to vote by an absentee ballot.

According to Alabama’s official election center website, an individual can vote by absentee ballot by applying to the County Board of Elections.

If your application is approved, the County Board of Elections will send a paper absentee ballot to the voter.

An individual is considered eligible for an absentee ballot if he or she is absent from the country, is ill or has a physical infirmity, is a registered Alabama voter living outside the county, is an appointed election office or poll watcher or works a required shift which has at least 10 hours that coincide with polling hours.

The ballot can be returned in the mail, postmarked by the day of the election.

Deborah Teal with the Pike County Board of Registrars’ office encourages students to vote, whether it is in person or by absentee ballot.

“It is essential for college students to vote to let their voices be heard,” Teal said. “Many people have lost their lives to give us this privilege — a privilege that so many take for granted.”

According to Teal, there are approximately 21,264 registered voters in Pike County, and 2,899 of the registered voters are between the ages of 18 and 24.

For more information, visit the Pike County Board of Registrars’ office in the courthouse or call (334) 566-1757.

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