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Guide to Registering and Voting

 When is the voter registration deadline?


The deadline in Virginia is October 13, 2020 register to vote, or update an existing registration, for the November 3, 2020 General Election.


 How do I vote if I am displaced because of COVID-19 pandemic or any other reason?

  1. Register to vote and check voter registration. In Virginia, visit Out-of-state students, visit:
  2. As a student you have a choice of where to vote. You may use either your JMU address or your “permanent address.” Just be sure to register where you want to vote and vote where you are registered.
  3. Vote early in-person at the local voter registration office where you are registered. In Virginia, in-person early voting begins on September 18. For a list of offices in Virginia localities, visit:
  4. Request an absentee ballot before the deadline from the local registrar where you are registered and return your ballot by mail. In Virginia, the deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is October 23. 
  5. If you are displaced due to the COVID pandemic or for any other reason, you may update your voter registration if it is before the registration deadline (10/13 in Virginia) to reflect your change in living address and then vote in person or by mail at that address. You may also vote early or request an absentee ballot for the address at which you were registered prior to displacement.

 When is election day?

The General Election is Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Block out time to vote in your calendar. Organize a group of friends to walk to the polls and vote with you. And join us at our campus precinct party (even if you vote at another location)!

 Am I eligible to vote in Virginia?

If you are a JMU student, you may claim residency in either Virginia (including in Harrisonburg) or your home district. To register in Virginia you must:

  • be a citizen of the United States
  • be a resident of Virginia and of the precinct in which you want to vote
  • be 18 years old by the next May or November general election
  • if convicted of a felony, your right to vote must have been restored
  • not currently declared mentally incompetent by a court of law

If you have a Virginia Driver's License, you can register online through the VA Department of Elections or stop by the Dukes Vote office in Burruss Hall 243.

 Can I vote in Harrisonburg?

YES! If you register here, you can vote here. Submit a voter registration form with your local address by October 13 deadline.

If you have a Virginia Driver's License, you can register online through the VA Department of Elections or stop by the Dukes Vote office in Burruss Hall 243.

 How can I vote in my hometown as a student?

To vote in your hometown, fillout and submit your registration with that address. You will then need to request an absentee ballot. If you are from out-of-state, be sure to check your state's Department of Elections rules and deadlines for registering to vote and requesting an absentee ballot. Rock the Vote also has a useful resource for looking up individual state information.

 How can I see if I'm already registered?

Look yourself up! If you are a Virginia resident, you can check at the VA Department of Elections.

 What address do I use to register?

You must use your full physical address to register. So, if you are living on campus in a residence hall (not Grace Street apts) and want to register at JMU then you need to put 800 S Main Street 22807 AND your hall name on your voter registration form. You must also include your PO Box for mail delivery (see sample below). If you are a resident of the Apartments on Grace Street, there are special instructions for you too - enter 42 W. Grace Street, Harrisonburg, VA 22807 for your Residence Address line, but also check the second box under #4 and include your mailing address: 800 S. Main Street, Box # G---, Harrisonburg, VA 22807 (see sample below).

If you live off-campus, use that mailing address.

Many JMU students prefer to register in their home districts and vote absentee. If you want to vote absentee you will register at that address (e.g., in Norfolk, VA or Montpelier, VT). You should request an absentee ballot be sent to your Harrisonburg address. See the links for absentee balloting for more information.

Here is a sample registration form if you live in a residence hall and choose to vote in Harrisonburg.


Here is a sample registration form if you live at the Apartments on Grace Street and choose to vote in Harrisonburg.


 I have moved. Do I need to register again?

YES. You will need to update your voter registration. If you are a Virginia resident, you can do it on the Department of Elections website.

If you are an out-of-state student, Rock the Vote also has a useful resource for looking up individual state information.

 How do I fill out the voter registration form adequately?

The most important piece of advice we can give you is to write LEGIBLY and include your FULL social security number. Make sure you fully complete and sign the form. If you have any questions, we are here to help, so just ask!

 Can I vote absentee? What's the Deadline?

In Virginia, the local registrar where you are registered to vote must receive an absentee ballot request by email or mail no later than 5:00 p.m. Friday, October 23, 2020. You can also request an absentee ballot by appearing in person by: 5:00 p.m. Saturday, October 31, 2020. 

Absentee ballots should be requested as far in advance as possible to allow time for the local elections office to mail the ballot to the voter and for the voter to complete and return the ballot. Completed absentee ballots must be returned to the correct registrar’s office before the close of the polls on Election Day.

NEW in 2020: Any absentee ballots that arrive to the registrar’s office by noon on the third day after the election, that is postmarked on or before election day, will be counted.

If you are a Virginia resident, you can apply for an absentee ballot online through the Department of Elections. If you are an out-of-state student, be sure to check your state's deadlines and rules. Rock the Vote also has a useful resource for looking up individual state information.

NEW FOR 2020: Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot in any election.

Following the processing of your absentee voting application, you will receive your ballot in the mail. You may receive a notice along with your ballot explaining that you have to provide a copy of one of the following types of identification:

  1. current and valid photo ID (Driver’s License)
  2. utility bill, government check, or paycheck that shows your name and address
  3. another government document which shows your name and address.

If you are notified that you must submit one of these federal ID requirements, and fail to do so, your ballot will be considered a provisional ballot and your vote will not be counted until a copy of one of the ID requirements is provided.

 Where is my voting location?

If your residence is in Virginia can access your polling location on the Department of Elections website.

If you live in JMU residence halls, you vote at JMU's precinct at the Convocation Center. If you live off campus, you can find maps and information about local polling locations in Harrisonburg City here.


 What identification do I need to vote?

A Student ID may be used to vote in Virginia!

In-person voters must show an acceptable type of ID at the polls. Voters may show any one of a number of documents, including:

  • Voter registration confirmation documents.
  • Valid VA Driver’s License
  • Valid US Passport
  • Any identification issued by the Commonwealth of VA, one of its political subdivisions, or the US government
  • Student ID Card issued by any institution of higher education in VA
  • Employee ID card with a photograph
  • Copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government documents with a voter’s name and address

If a voter cannot produce one of these documents, the voter will be required to sign a statement that they are the registered voter that they claim to be in order to cast a ballot. The statement is subject to felony penalties.

If unwilling to sign the statement, a voter may cast a provisional ballot.

 I am studying abroad this semester, can I still vote?

YES! Dukes Vote created this guide for JMU students who are Virginia residents studying abroad.

Studying Abroad This Fall? Your Vote Matters!

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