Voting FAQs

Registration

As long as you meet the state's eligibility requirements listed below and have lived in Ohio for at least 30 days before the election, you may choose to vote in your college community. To do so, you must register using your local address. If you live on-campus, you will list the current street address of your residence hall (not a P.O. Box) on your voter registration form. If you prefer, as a student, you can register in your home state instead of Ohio. If you are studying remotely, please see guidance in the following FAQs.

TurboVote makes the process of getting registered to vote easy through an online process that takes minutes to complete and will email you (or postal mail if you prefer) all the forms you need to get registered to vote. Since CWRU students come from across the country, this tool helps students manage voter registration deadlines and provides election reminders for all 50 states. Through TurboVote, CWRU students can get materials needed to register to vote, request to vote by mail and receive election reminders.

You are qualified to register to vote in Ohio if you meet all the following requirements:

  1. You are a citizen of the United States;
  2. You will be at least 18 years old on or before the day of the next general election. (If you will be 18 on or before the general election, you may vote in the primary election to nominate candidates, but you cannot vote on issues or party central committees until you are 18);
  3. You will be a resident of Ohio for at least 30 days immediately before the election in which you want to vote;
  4. You are not incarcerated (in prison or jail) for a felony conviction under the laws of this state, another state, or the United States;
  5. You have not been declared incompetent for voting purposes by a probate court; and
  6. You have not been permanently disenfranchised for violating the election laws.

If you are a CWRU student who is currently studying remotely, you should register wherever you will reside at the time of the election. If you previously registered to vote in Cuyahoga County (because you were living on campus) and you no longer live here because you are studying remotely, you will need to register to vote at your current address.

Due to the changes from COVID-19, there are a number of different scenarios for where college students should register to vote this year. This guidance follows general principles of residency for voting purposes, but you should check with your local election officials for the specific voter registration rules where you live. Check out the Fair Elections Center's Campus Vote Project's 2020 Voter Registration Scenario Guidance for assistance.

You can also get the voter registration forms you need for any state through TurboVote, or visit Campus Vote Project's State Guides.

Ohio's voter registration form asks for your Ohio driver's license or ID number, or the last four digits of your Social Security Number.

If you are registering by mail and you do not include an Ohio driver's license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number, you must include a copy of:

  • a current and valid photo ID (a college student ID is not permitted)
  • a military ID
  • or a current (within the last 12 months) utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or government document that shows your name and current address. If you live on-campus, you can get a print-out of your address verification (also known as Proof of Residency) by visiting a Housing Area Office or by stopping by University Housing main office.

Failure to provide this information could lead to you having to show additional identification when you vote that shows your picture or your name and address. Make sure to provide this information on the registration form so the state can verify your identity and you don't run into issues when you cast your ballot.

You can only register to vote online if your state enables that type of registration (Ohio has online registration if you have an Ohio drivers license or Ohio identification card).

However, through a partnership with TurboVote, you can get all the materials you need online - for any state. Visit case.turbovote.org to fill out your information online, TurboVote will then email or mail you a copy (with pre-postaged envelope) of your voter registration form. You will be asked to fill in some additional pieces of information, sign the form, and mail the completed form to the appropriate board of elections (they will provide the address). Through TurboVote you can also request an absentee ballot and sign up for Election Day reminder emails and/or text messages.

You can search by specific state and county for local election offices here.

CWRU is located in Cuyahoga County; click here to go to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. 

Casting a Ballot

You can preview your ballot through Ballotopedia. We recommend students spend some time researching the issues and candidates on their ballot to make informed decisions.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the November 2020 elections could see a historically massive number of voters casting their ballots via mail. Election officials will be handling millions of ballot request forms, so if you are looking to vote by mail this year, we recommend you submit your mail-in ballot request as soon as possible.

View this chart to see the earliest dates you can request/receive your ballot, in addition to state websites for absentee requests.

*Note, in all-mail states and those where voters will be mailed a ballot, you should check your registration status ASAP.

If you are registered in Ohio, you can find your polling location through the Ohio Secretary of State Website. Also, through TurboVote you can sign up for Election Day reminder emails and/or text messages that include your polling address. A Secretary of State or County Board of Elections website will typically be able to provide information on your polling location as well as confirming that you are registered in that state and/or county.

Those who vote early in person are only required to provide the last four digits of their social security number if they lack an Ohio driver's license or non-driver ID card.

Those who vote in person at the polls on Election Day must show one of the following types of ID:

  • An unexpired Ohio driver’s license or Ohio state ID card with present or former address so long as the voter’s present residential address is printed in the official list of registered voters for that precinct
  • A Military ID that shows the voter's name.
  • A copy or original of a current utility bill (including a cell phone bill), bank statement, paycheck, government check or other government document (including those issued by a public college or university) that shows the voter's name and current address (but not a notice of an election or a voter registration notification sent by a Board of Elections). See the box below.

Colleges and universities may issue students living on campus a "proof of residence form" with a current address that students can use as voter ID. Case Western Reserve University students living in on-campus housing can visit their Area Office (Fribley Commons or Wade Commons) or the Office of University Housing (24 Thwing Center) to request a Proof of Residence Form.

Provisional ballots: If you do not have any of the above forms of identification you may provide either your Ohio driver’s license or state identification number (which begins with two letters followed by six numbers) or the last four digits of your Social Security number and cast a provisional ballot. Once the information is reviewed and verified by the board of elections, your ballot will be counted.

Visit How To Vote. Select "vote" and your particular state to see identification requirements  in the section titled What to Bring.

Yes! You can vote absentee.

Voting Absentee: An absentee ballot is the printed ballot marked by an absent voter, sealed in a special envelope, and given or mailed to the municipal clerk. The municipal clerk ensures that each absentee ballot that is returned in a timely manner gets to the right polling place on Election Day. If accepted, the absentee ballot is counted as if the voter had cast the ballot in person. To request an absentee ballot online and by mail visit the County Board of Elections website for the county you are registered to vote in. You can also visit TurboVote to request an absentee ballot. 

For additional information about state-specific absentee voting (including deadlines), you can enter your state on HowToVote and follow the associated links. 

Start as soon as you can to get everything you need to vote by mail. Request your mail-in ballot (often called an "absentee" ballot) right away. TurboVote can help you start the absentee/mail-in ballot request process. Make sure to watch your mailbox for the ballot and research the candidates and issues so you are ready to fill it out when it arrives. You can preview what will be on your ballot here. You can stop by CCEL for a stamp to mail your completed ballot.

If you haven't received your ballot by 30 days before Election Day, contact your local election office.

For those living in the US, the US Post Office recommends you mail your ballot at least 7 days before Election Day, but the earlier you can mail it, the better. See additional details at the USPS voter info website.

You may be able to deliver your completed mail-in ballot in-person to a drop-off box at your county board of elections; contact your local board of elections to learn more. Cuyahoga County (CWRU's location) has a drop-box; you can see location and details here

Out-of-State Students Voting in Ohio

Where you register to vote will not affect federal financial aid such as Pell Grants and Perkins or Stafford loans or your dependency status regarding FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

No. Simply registering to vote in Ohio does not mean you must obtain a driver's license and register your vehicle in the state.

No. Students are often told that registering to vote in a different state from their parents will make them lose their dependency status. This is not true. Where you register to vote will have no effect on you parent's tax status.

Additional Information and Resources

Students are welcome to stop by CCEL on the first floor of the Tinkham Veale University Center any time during business hours, where a student or staff member can assist them in using TurboVote and completing their absentee ballot request forms. We can print paper copies in the office and provide an envelope and stamp for students to mail their forms.

View state-specific voting guides developed by Campus Vote Project to increase voter understanding of registration deadlines, where to register (their home or school address), ID requirements, and other information on voting.

You can also look up state-specific information on HowToVote.

You can play a role in our democracy by being a poll worker! Due to the pandemic, many precincts anticipate a shortage of election workers, so the need is especially great for 2020. The qualifications for poll workers vary by state and jurisdiction, so you will need to reach out to the county you would like to work in; learn more about your county requirements here.

For Cuyahoga County (CWRU's location), a poll worker must be registered to vote in Cuyahoga County. However, there are some roles that do not require a registered voter and you can inquire about those; call the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections at 216-443-VOTE (8683). Applications for poll workers in Cuyahoga County are available here or you can call the Board and sign-up over the phone. For students studying remotely who want to work at the polls in another state or county, please visit the Help America Vote website to find your state specific information.

*CWRU student poll workers should follow all jurisdiction safety measures, including wearing a mask and socially distancing during their work duties.

The Center for Civic Engagement & Learning and Case Western Reserve University do not endorse any candidate or political party in connection with this or any other political campaign or election. Volunteer opportunities to engage in election activities will be posted as submitted by either party, and students can choose whether or not they wish to get involved.