A voting guide for college students in College Park

Polling stations in Ritchie Coliseum on Nov. 11, 2019. (Gabby Baniqued/The Diamondback)

By Josie Jack

For The Diamondback

You’ve seen the message promoted everywhere, from Kylie Jenner’s Instagram posts to the Levi’s commercial: vote. 

While most of us understand the importance of voting by now, for students at the University of Maryland, figuring out how best to do so can be confusing. So, here is the who, what, where, when and how of voting in College Park during the coronavirus pandemic.

Deadlines 

Before you do anything, it’s important to know the deadlines for voter registration and absentee ballot requests. For those registering to vote in Maryland, the last day is Tuesday, Oct. 13. You can register in person, online or by mail. The last day to request an absentee ballot is Tuesday, Oct. 20. 

But the key word here is “last” — try to complete everything early! This is the best way to guarantee your vote gets counted.

Voting by Mail 

In a Thursday press conference, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks reminded residents that the safest way to vote is by mail, and Alexandra Marquez — student co-chair of TerpsVote, a university organization that encourages students to vote — said voting by mail is “totally safe and secure.” 

To vote by mail, you must request a mail-in ballot to your current address by or before Oct. 20.

When you request your ballot, you’ll pick whether you want to receive it by mail, fax or email. When your ballot arrives, fill out the ballot carefully and accurately. Be sure to read (and reread) the instructions, and follow them exactly. 

When you’re done, you’ve got some options: 

Hand-deliver it to your local election office by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 or to a voting center while it’s open. 

Drop it off at a ballot drop box. There’s one outside Xfinity Center, and 41 others in the county. Your ballot must be dropped off by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. 

Mail it to your local board of elections. Your ballot must be received by 10 a.m. on Nov. 13. Prince George’s County’s local election office is located at 1100 Mercantile Lane, Suite 115A Largo, MD 20774. 

The best way to ensure your vote is properly counted is by completing all steps accurately and early. 

For more information on mail-in voting, check out the State Board of Elections’ FAQs. 

[UMD students can now order voter registration forms off the menu at Nando’s]

Voting in person 

Though mail-in voting will be far more prevalent this year due to the pandemic, it’s still possible to vote in person. 

There are 11 early voting centers in the county, including Xfinity Center on this university’s campus. Early voting begins Monday, Oct. 26 and ends Monday, Nov. 2. The Xfinity Center’s polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day. 

Xfinity Center will be open for voting from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day as well, along with 40 other voting centers. 

If you’re a first-time voter, make sure you bring a valid form of ID to the polling place. 

Get out the vote 

No matter who you vote for or how you choose to do so, you should make sure to stay informed. Watch the presidential debates, educate yourself on politicians’ policies and keep up with current events. 

“There are a lot of resources students can use to research [candidates] to make sure they’re voting informed up and down the ballot,” Marquez said.

So be sure to take advantage of the ones listed here. And remember, politics don’t work unless we do, so get out your vote.

[UMD students confident in high turnout among college voters]

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