Why should you vote with an absentee ballot?

Helpful hints and explanations about absentee voting.

Learn why you should vote with an absentee ballot.
Learn why you should vote with an absentee ballot.

In addition to learning project-specific skills, 4-H’ers also learn about what it means to be a good citizen. Michigan 4-H youth practice this in leadership experiences in many settings and by engaging in the democratic procees. Turning 18 is a milestone in our culture, and a big reason for this is becoming of legal age to vote -- and having a voice in local, state and national elections.

We have often heard the refrain of how important it is to vote, but sometimes there are barriers to our participation in an election that have nothing to do with politics. If a registered voter is unable to get to their polling station on election day, they have the option to vote by absentee ballot. This is a ballot you fill out on your own schedule and then mail to your election officials.

Here are a few reasons from Michigan State University Extension as to why you might decide to vote by absentee ballot:

  • You are a college student, and getting home to vote would be difficult or impossible.
  • You have a schedule that would make it difficult to be physically present at your polling station on election day.
  • You need assistance to be able to vote.
  • You have religious reasons that prevent you from going to your polling station.

An additional advantage to voting by absentee ballot is that you will have more time to be able to read and understand what you are voting on. There are several online resources to help you become informed; check out the Michigan Secretary of State voter information and the League of Women Voters online voters’ guide. In any of these cases, you won’t miss out on your civic responsibilities!

Voting by absentee ballot can be especially helpful for college students who are away from home. If you have just turned 18 in the last year or so, it is so exciting to finally be able to participate in an election and have your voice be counted! Don’t let your absence get in the way of being a part of a very important process. There are some special requirements if you are a first-time voter; make sure to research these ahead of time.

There are a few important things to remember about absentee voting. First, you must already be registered to vote (visit the State of Michigan Secretary of State website for more information). In addition, you need to request the absentee ballot no later than 2 p.m. on the Saturday before the election. The request has to be in writing, and the Secretary of State provides an easy form that can be used. This request has to be turned in to either your city or township clerk. Once you have your ballot, you can read the language of proposals and research candidates on your own schedule. Return your ballot to the clerk’s office no later than 8 p.m. on election day. Be careful when filling out your ballot, as mistakes can invalidate your vote.

Our country is based on the right to vote. Use your voice to be a part of our democratic discussions! MSU Extension and Michigan 4-H have more resources available to learn about effective youth leadership and other ways to increase youth understanding of civic engagement. Make sure to check out other MSU Extension articles about absentee voting, including special instructions for first-time voters and how to avoid mistakes.

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