In the year 1970 a 20-year-old college student didn’t have the right to vote. It wasn’t until the 26th Amendment of the Constitution was ratified in 1971 that the official voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 years of age.
Yet, according to the United States Census Bureau, those 18-20 have had the lowest percentage of participation of any group in Presidential elections since. According to those same statistics, the second lowest participation rate goes to the next group of younger voters aged 21-24.
Why are younger voters lagging behind? Is there a lack of interested in politics? Or, could it be, in part, the younger generations aren’t familiar with the process?
Some first time voters find the mechanics of the voting system a bit confusing and don’t understand how to take part in the process. For those who find themselves in this situation, they should know there are helping hands willing to lead them in the right direction.
One of those hands ready for grasping is the Idaho Secretary of State’s official voting information Web site, www.idahovotes.gov. The site is loaded with ample information helping students learn what is needed to make each individuals voice count.
Voter qualification is simple in the state of Idaho. According to the Idaho Voters’ Guide located at idahovotes.gov, to qualify to participate students must be “a Citizen of the United States who is 18 years of age, or older [and] a resident in the state and in the county for thirty (30) days prior to Election Day.”
If an individual qualifies to vote in Idaho, the next thing they must do is register to vote. However, students need to be cautious when choosing where to register. It is such an important topic that a whole page on the Idaho Votes Web site is dedicated to the topic of students and voting residency.
In a nut shell, the page explains if an individual is attending college but intends to return back to another county or state that is consider “home,” then students should register there. In this case, students can vote via absentee ballot, and can usually obtain those ballots from the County Clerk’s office in individual home counties.
According to the Voter Guide, in Idaho, registration can be completed with the County Clerk in which students reside up until 25 days preceding any election.
Students can also mail in a voter registration application card to their County Clerk, but it must be postmarked at least 25 days before election day. Those cards are available for download on the Idaho Votes Web site.
Another way to register is to do it at the polls on election day. However, individuals must bring the proper identification and documentation.
According to the frequently asked questions portion of the Idaho Votes Web site individuals will need to have a valid Idaho driver’s license or Idaho ID card. Additionally students also need a document that has their current address which should be in the precinct being voted in.
The site also says college students may use their current student ID card along with a current student fee statement that contains the student’s valid and current address to satisfy these requirements as well.
Helpful Links and Information:
Idaho Votes Web site: http://www.idahovotes.gov/
Office of the Secretary of State Web site: http://www.sos.idaho.gov/
Idaho Voters’ Guide: http://www.idahovotes.gov/VoterGuide/2012_Voter_Guide_English.pdf
Idaho Secretary of State List of Candidates: http://www.sos.idaho.gov/elect/candidat/2012candgen.htm
Idaho residency info: http://www.idahovotes.gov/VoterReg/Students_Voting%20Residency.htm
Idaho Registration Cards: http://www.idahovotes.gov/vinfo.htm.
2012 Nov. 6 General Election Important Dates for Voters:
Sept. 25 National Voter Registration Day
Oct. 12 Last day to pre-register
Oct. 31 Last day for mail-in absentee ballot application
Nov. 6 Election day and last day to return absentee ballots to the County Clerk by 8 p.m.
Election Information Contacts for Idaho Counties : http://www.idahovotes.gov/Clerk.htm
Ada County Information:
Christopher D. Rich
Ada County Clerk
400 N Benjamin Lane Ste 100
Boise ID 83704
Phone: (208) 287-6860
Federal Election Commission: http://www.fec.gov/