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Register to Vote

Voting at Vanderbilt

Join in.

Make your voice a part of the political process. Vanderbilt University strongly encourages its students to register to vote and participate in the democratic process. Should you need any help or have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact OACS.

www.vanderbilt.edu/oacs | oacs@vanderbilt.edu | 615-343-7878 | Rand 305

“We in America do not have government by the majority, we have government by the majority who participate.” – Thomas Jefferson

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”

– Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Getting started

Determine if you are already registered to vote

The sites below will direct you to your state’s site for determining voter registration status:

What does it mean to register to vote?

In most states, you must register with your state in order to be eligible to vote in elections. You may only register to vote in one state as registering to vote requires residency in that state. Federal and state elections are operated by the states themselves and no two states have identical registration and voting processes.  You may register to vote in person at:

  • Your state or local election office
  • The DMV
  • An armed services recruitment center
  • State and county public assistance offices

You may register to vote by mail using either your state’s voter registration form or the National Mail Registration Form. Many states also offer online voter registration. It is important to note that registering to vote by mail or online may require you to vote for the first time in person. Take this into consideration when making your plan for voter registration and voting.

Make your voting plan

Answer these questions:

  • Will I register to vote in Tennessee or in my home state?
  • Will I vote absentee or travel home to vote in person on Election Day or during early voting (if available)?
  • How will I find and keep track of the voter registration and ballot request deadlines?
  • How will I keep up-to-date with upcoming election dates?
  • How will I stay informed on current issues, elections, and candidates, whether in Tennessee or my home state?
  • What type of ID is required by the state in which I am voting?

Voting at Vanderbilt

Registering to vote at home versus in Tennessee

Many Vanderbilt students move to campus as residents of states other than Tennessee. By law, no person may vote in more than one jurisdiction; so each student, depending on their unique situation, must decide which state and city they consider their place of residence, which is where they should then be registered to vote. Residency not only affects which state one will vote in, but also matters of drivers licensure, insurance, etc. The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office has guidance on determining residency here. Other states may have different criteria for determining residency. See the links blow under “Voting Requirements and Procedures by State” for more information.

To register to vote using your on-campus address, you will need to list the physical address of your residence hall. Those addresses can be found here.

Election Reminders

Many students do choose to remain registered to vote in their home state. Due to distance, remaining informed and up-to-date on current issues in that area and upcoming elections can be challenging. Multiple websites offer an election reminder service. After signing up with an e-mail address and zip code, these sites will send you an e-mail with relevant voting information in advance of election occurring in the specific zip code.

Two sites offering these election reminders free of charge are:

Voter Registration Forms – Paper and Online

Qualified voters may pick up a Tennessee registration form at any of the following locations:

    • Office of Active Citizenship & Service (305 Rand)
    • Jean and Alexander Heard Library (419 21st Ave. S.)
    • The Commons Center
    • Sarratt Information Desk
    • Office of Religious Life (401 24th Ave. S.)

Absentee Ballots

Students may be eligible to request an absentee ballot if they are not able to be present at the polls. Absentee ballots must be requested in advance for most states. It is important that you keep the deadlines for your state in mind when you make your voting plan!

Some states require that absentee ballots be notarized. A number of notaries public work at Vanderbilt, and they would be happy to help! Click here to find names and contact information for notaries public on campus.

A College Student’s Guide to Voting in Davidson County

Click for Full Screen

Proof of Residency

If you registered in Tennessee by mail and are voting for the first time in Davidson County you may need to show proof of residency. Please contact the Office of Housing and Residential Education (OHARE) to request a confirmation of residency letter on university letterhead. The letter of residency should list your specific residence hall and the physical address of your residence hall (not your PMB number).

Tennessee Voter ID Laws

All voters must present a federal or Tennessee state ID containing the voter’s name and photograph when voting at the polls, whether voting early or on Election Day unless an exemption applies. Please note that Vanderbilt University IDs and IDs issues by other states will not be accepted.

You can find more information about what forms of ID are acceptable according to Tennessee Voter ID Law here.

What If I Don’t Have an ID?

If you are a registered voter and do not have a government-issued photo ID, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security will provide you with a photo ID at no charge. Citizens may obtain these IDs at 48 of the Driver Service Centers across the state. For a photo ID, each applicant must also sign an affidavit under penalty of perjury stating that he or she does not have a valid government-issued photo ID for voting purposes.

Click here to learn more about requesting a free photo ID from the Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

Where Do I Vote in Davidson County (Nashville)?

Early Voting

Prior to most elections, Davidson County offers multiple locations across the county where registered Davidson County voters may cast their ballots early. The Early Voting period begins twenty (20) days before an election and typically ends five (5) days before Election Day. You may choose a location convenient to work or home – there are no assigned locations. Early Voting sites are open during the day, some evenings and on Saturday. Waits (if any) are usually shorter than on Election Day, and if you need to update your address, the process may be completed more quickly than on Election Day.

Click here to see the list of Early Voting locations where you can vote through Thursday, Nov. 1.

Voting on Election Day

On Election Day, you must vote at your assigned polling location. Vanderbilt University falls into two different districts – if you are registered to vote in Tennessee and live on campus, please be sure to confirm your polling location before heading to the polls on Election Day.

  • Most students registered with an address on the Martha Rivers Ingram Commons will vote on Election Day at Murrell School (1450 14th Ave. S).
  • Most students registered with an address on main campus will vote on Election Day at Eakin School (2500 Fairfax Ave.).

The above addresses are general information. Your specific Election Day polling location is determined by the address that you used to register to vote. Use the Nashville Polling Place Finder link to find your specific polling location.

Voting Requirements and Procedures by State

Federal and state elections are operated by the states themselves and no two states have identical registration and voting processes. The websites below will direct you to your state’s voting website that hosts important information and resources about voting requirements, registering to vote, voting absentee, and upcoming elections.

Further Information:

Tennessee Secretary of State Elections Page

Voting Rights Act of 1965