9 Things you need to know about voting as a Rockhurst student

Kori Hines, Editor-in-Chief

Election day is about a month away, but there’s still time to get the essential information you need to be an informed voter. Whether you’re looking for election resources or you’re attending Rockhurst away from your home state or you just need to tune up your understanding of the voting process, you’re in the right place.

1. The 2018 U.S. Midterm Elections are Tuesday, Nov. 8.

If you are a Missouri resident and you plan to vote in person, make sure to inform your professors. This may be one of the few times you get a free pass for missing class. After all, exercising your civic duty is a responsibility and a right.

2. Become an informed voter –– learn about the candidates and what they stand for.

Before you vote, contemplate what you value in your community and about the candidates you think will best represent those values. Conduct research on the nominees on your ballot.

For Missourians, the Missouri Secretary of State has a list of candidates from the primary election. Rockhurst is in Congressional District 5, state House (Representative) District 26 and state Senate District 9.

For all elections, local newspapers are a useful resource for voters. St. Louis residents can refer to the voter guide provided by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. For Kansas Citians, The Kansas City Star reports regularly on the activities of candidates in the metropolitan area.

League of Women Voters has a voter guide that includes information about many local elections. They also have a  7-step process to help you evaluate who deserves your vote.

Ballotpedia provides information about all state elections, including general information about candidates and their platforms. For weekly news updates and information about a candidate’s campaign finances, consider ProPublica’s midterm election project.

However you get your election information, make sure to use reliable sources and a scrutinizing eye. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities has a guide for examining political tactics and how to analyze different political messages.

3. To be eligible to vote, you first must be registered.

It takes less than 30 seconds to find out if you are a registered voter –– find out now.

If you’ve previously registered at your current residence, then you need not register again.

4. If you aren’t registered to vote, don’t worry –– it’s not too late.

But the clock is ticking.

In Missouri, the deadline is Wednesday, Oct. 10. You can register online or by mail-in form. With your Rockhurst ID or another accepted form of identification, you may register in person at any Kansas City Public Library location, including the Plaza Branch located five minutes from campus. For Missouri voters, the local County Clerk’s office is another option for in-person registration. For Rockhurst students, this is the Kansas City Board of Election.

In Kansas, the deadline is Oct. 16. Kansans can register online or by mail-in form. They can also register in person at their local Department of Motor Vehicles or with their County Election Officer.

In Nebraska, the deadline for online and mail-in registration is Oct. 19. Nebraskans have until Oct. 26 to register in person at their local County Clerk’s office.

For the registration deadlines in your state, visit here. For state-by-state mail-in registration guidelines, visit here.

5. If you are registered to vote in your home state but would prefer to vote in Missouri, you can.

While it is illegal to vote more than once, it is not illegal or punishable to be a registered voter in more than one county or state in which you live. So, if you would prefer to vote in the midterm election in Missouri, register using your Rockhurst (or near Rockhurst) address.

But remember, you can only submit your ballot from one location.

6. This week, you can register to vote on campus.

UNITY, Rockhurst students’ Gay-straight Alliance, are providing students with the option to register on campus. The registration drive will be held outside Massman’s Thomas More Dining Room on Tuesday, Oct. 2 to Thursday, Oct. 4 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

7. If you’d like to vote in the election of your home state, voting via absentee ballot is possible.

But you should request your mail-in ballot sooner rather than later.

If you are registered to vote in your home state and would prefer to vote in that election (and you will not be going home on Election Day), you need to request an “absentee” ballot.

Absentee voting is conducted by mail-in paper ballot prior to Election Day. Many states offer “no-excuse” absentee voting, meaning you can request this option without providing a reason why. The National Conference of State Legislatures has more information about absentee voting in your state. And you can get a copy of your state’s absentee ballot here.

8. Your voting decisions are just that –– yours.

Your decisions to register and vote are yours alone.

No one is obligated to share with which party they register or the candidates with whom they identity. You can keep that a secret or publicize it. It’s your choice.

Voting in any election –– local or national –– does not affect your financial aid or scholarship status.

9. Do not be afraid to #RockTheVote!

If it’s your first time voting, don’t be afraid.

I get it –– doing something for the first time can be nerve-racking. When I voted for the first time, in the 2016 presidential election, I was worried I might mark the wrong candidate or break the pen.

I did not realize that, while you can opt for a pen-to-paper voting method, most modern polling places use electronic voting systems that allow you to go back and double-check your entries. So, if you have that same worry, don’t sweat it. And if you do have any questions or concerns, the poll workers are there to help.

With this advice in mind, I hope to see you on Election Day sporting that “I Voted” sticker with pride.

Interested in joining the Sentinel staff? Reach out to our Editor-in-Chief, Kori Hines, at [email protected] to see how you can get involved.