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It is only January, but the 2020 elections are quickly becoming a reality that may sneak up on voters who have not yet registered. For students away from home, there are ways to be prepared for fulfilling that civic duty and not miss important deadlines.

Many students who don’t register to vote do so because they are not knowledgeable about how to. The process usually just involves a small amount of paperwork and providing identification, but can vary based on the state, since elections lie in the hands of localities.

The last day to register in Missouri for the March 10 presidential preference primary is Feb. 12, and absentee voting began on Jan. 28.

Additional important dates include registering by March 11 for the April 7 municipal election, registering by July 8 for the Aug. 4 primary election and registering by Oct. 7 for the Nov. 3 general election

Melinda Patton, Nodaway County clerk, said registering to vote is merely the first step.

“It’s great if you get registered, but if they don't vote, that’s just more registered voters not voting, so what does that really help,” Patton said.

According to Patton, not many college students usually turnout for the April municipal election, but that this year is important because of two council members are up for re-election. Patton said there are a lot of different elections in 2020, which can be hard to keep track of. However, all of them are important to be mindful of.

In Missouri, voters must submit a completed voter registration form to their local election authority either in the mail or in person. The local election authority is usually different city to city, but voters can register at a number of different locations.

License offices, designated state agencies and libraries have access to registration papers.

In Iowa, voters are required to complete a voter registration form and submit it to the county auditor’s office, whereafter the county auditor will send them a voter registration card.

College students from Iowa can use a home address or college address and one can also register to vote on election day, unlike Missouri.

Some places are promoting civic duty on a much larger scale, such is the case in Illinois, where there is legislation has been passed to allow students to miss two hours of school to make it to the polls.

The Chicago Tribune reports that a group of high school students from two schools in the state brought the idea to the state legislature after not having adequate time to vote.

Patton said if a student is not registered to vote in Nodaway County but wishes to vote absentee they can contact their county clerk or otherwise election authority in the county they are registered in to request the absentee ballot.

“Nodaway County currently has 12,349 registered voters,” Patton said. “Five hundred and twenty eight of those are marked inactive or pending due to information needed.”

For more information or additional questions on how to get registered to vote, one can visit their secretary of state website or contact their local election authority.

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