As the general election draws nearer, many Knox students find themselves with basic questions of how and where to vote. Especially as this election promises to be important not only to the nation but to Knox students as well.
“For many of our students, this is their first election. And for most, their first presidential election,” said Director of Government and Community Relations Karrie Heartlein. “We all have this great opportunity to choose our leaders.”
She urged students to carefully consider their registration. “Students are in a unique and singular position. They are the only students who get to choose where to register,” she said, referring to a student’s ability to vote either at home or where they go to college.
Students who want to register in Galesburg using their Knox address have three options: by mail, in person, or online. A registration form can be found online on the City of Galesburg Election Commission website under “For Voters.” Mail the completed form to Galesburg Board of Elections, 55 W. Tompkins St., PO Box 1387, Galesburg, Ill., 61401.
Students who are from a different state and don’t have an Illinois State ID or Driver’s License number can email Knox Director of Community and Government Relations Karrie Heartlein at firstname.lastname@example.org for a letter that will serve as proof of address.
Note that if you register to vote with your Knox address, you must use the address of the building you live in, not your 2 E. South St. mailing address.
Registration can also be completed in person in the Galesburg Election office in City Hall with a photo ID and some proof of address.
Students with an Illinois State ID or Driver’s License number can register online at ova.elections.il.gov. Anyone registered to vote with a Knox address is in Precinct 8 and can either vote early at City Hall or on election day at First Baptist Church, 169 S. Cherry St.
If, however, you are from another voting district or state than Knox and want to cast your vote there, you will need to apply to vote by mail. Each state and county has different registration deadlines, but in most places registration closes around a month before election day. Students already registered to vote at home should apply to vote by mail and ensure that their listed mailing address is their Knox address.
The difference between voting at home or in Illinois might seem minimal. However, Heartlein explained that one vote may go further in one place than another. For example, Illinois is not a swing state for this upcoming presidential election. Students from swing states might consider voting through their home governments in order to have a greater impact. According to the latest political poll, the 11 most influential states are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Local and state issues should also be considered. Heartlein suggested that students pay careful attention to the state and local races both in Galesburg and back home, so a student’s vote can go toward the issues they care about most.
She also encourages studying the sample ballot for your area. Galesburg’s sample election ballot will be available soon on the Galesburg Election Commission website.
Knox offers a variety of resources to educate students and help them become active in the democracy, including the Knox Election Engagement Enterprise (KEEE), Knox Democrats and Knox College Conservatives. Knox Democrats plans to host debate-watching parties in Taylor Lounge for every presidential debate until the election, to which people of all political viewpoints are welcome. More information on voting for Knox students is listed on the Knox website under “Government and Community Relations” and “Register to Vote.”