Voting While You Are a Student at Brown

If, as  a Brown University student, you are a U.S. citizen, are at least 18 years of age, and live and have an address in the United States, you may:

  1. Register to vote in the state in which you reside most of the year and go to the polls there to vote in each election;
  2. Register to vote in your home state, and vote by absentee ballot when you cannot attend the home state polls on election day.

You may be registered to vote in only one state at a time. You must re-register to vote whenever you move to a new city, township, county, or state.

1. Register to Vote in the State in Which You Reside Most of the Year

  • To register to vote as a resident of Rhode Island, consult the “For Voters” section of the RI Secretary of State's website for information and instructions.  You may register in person or by mail.
  • Is it possible to both register and vote on Election Day? No. You must be registered to vote at least 30 days prior to the primary or general election in order to cast a vote in that election.(http://www.sos.ri.gov/elections/voters/register)
  • Find your polling place (i.e., where you go to vote), your elected officials and additional information on the Voter Information Center of the RI Secretary of State’s website.

2. Register to Vote in Your Home State

If you have retained your official residence in another state as your home address, you may register as a voter in that state and vote long distance via absentee ballot.  Not sure if you are registered in your home state? Use the Can I Vote page of the National Association of Secretaries of State to check your registration or to register to vote.

For a quick look at the absentee voting rules of your home state, check the Absentee and Early Voting page of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

To register as a voter in your home state:

  • PLAN AHEAD!
    • Most states require that you register a minimum amount of time (e.g., 30 days) before the next election in order to be eligible to vote in that election.
  • REGISTER BY MAIL
    • Download a National Mail Voter Registration Form and state-by-state instructions from the United States Election Assistance Commission's Resources for Voters page. You will have to mail this form to the appropriate election officials.  Each State has its own deadline for registering to vote; check the deadline for your State and mailing instructions on the last page of the state-by-state instruction booklet.
    • OR find the Secretary of State's webpage for your home state (use a search engine to search for "secretary of state <your state>." Every state's website will be organized differently, so you'll have to do some looking around once you get to your state's page. Look for  "voter information," "elections & voting," or "register to vote."
  • REGISTER ON-LINE
    • Some states (e.g., Arizona) have on-line voter registration. Check your state's voter information page.

To vote by absentee ballot:

  • As a registered voter in your state, you may request an absentee ballot prior to each election.
  • FIRST TIME VOTING IN THAT STATE?
    •  Some state rules dictate that you cannot register by mail and vote the first time absentee; you would need to either register in person, appear in person to request the absentee ballot, or vote in person the first time. Read the state instructions!
  • PLAN AHEAD!
    • There will be a deadline before each election by which you must request an absentee ballot.  States have different deadlines, different processes, different instructions.  
    • Read your state's website carefully and follow the instructions to submit a request for an absentee ballot. Your state may tell you to print and mail a request, or to print and fax a request; you may also deliver the request in person.
  • Once you have requested an absentee ballot, keep tabs on your mailbox so you know when your ballot arrives.
  • When your absentee ballot arrives in the mail, read the instructions carefully to complete your ballot.
  • Complete and return the ballot before the deadline stated. Your ballot must be received by your home state polling location before the polls close on that election day.