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Office of Student Involvement

Guide to Voting during this Election Season

Q & A Guide To Voter Registration

"This right to vote is the basic right without which all others are meaningless. It gives people—people as individuals—control over their own destinies"
- Lyndon B. Johnson 


Why does the University get involved in voter registration? 

The 1998 reauthorization of the federal Higher Education Act and the State of California Donahoe Higher Education Act includes a requirement that higher education institutions make a “good faith effort” to make mail voter registration forms available to all enrolled students. This federal and state legislation supports the campus’s long-standing goals of engendering leadership and citizenship among the student body.

Am I eligible to register to vote? 

To register to vote in California, you must be:

Qualifications to Pre-register to Vote

To pre-register to vote in California, you must:

  • Be 16 or 17 years old, and
  • Meet all of the other eligibility requirements to vote.

You will automatically be registered to vote on your 18th birthday.

As a college student living away from home, where should I register? 

You may register to vote either at your college address or at your hometown or parent’s address. If you register at your hometown address and want to vote while attending college, you must remember to request an absentee ballot at least 30 days before the election. Check with your state election board for the exact deadline.

If I sign up to vote, will I get called for jury duty?

The court draws names from many sources, including the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). An individual is more likely to be called for jury duty because of possessing a driver’s license than because of registering to vote. No person is exempt from jury duty by reason of occupation. Based on their student status, students may request a deferral of service to the next school break. Students must respond to the jury duty summons and appear in court to request to be excused.

I live in a residence hall, what is the correct way to complete the registration form? 

Students living in a residence hall or house should use the name of the specific residence hall/house as their residence address (e.g. Half Dome). The mailing address format is: Your Name, Building and Room Number, 5400 N. Lake Road, Merced, CA 95340.  


How do I register to vote? 

Online:  California Secretary of State 

California Student Vote 

Registering online is a very fast and easy process. By registering through the link below, you can increase the number of registered students at the University of California. California Student Vote also provides a list of resources and tools necessary to get you to feel comfortable while voting. Student Vote could be used as an alternative in case you are not living in California by the time you vote. 

When is the last day I may register to vote for an election? 

Although an eligible citizen may register to vote at any time, no person is eligible to vote unless he/she is registered on or before 15 days prior to the election.

How will I find out where to go to vote? 

Your registration card should include the address of your polling place. Many jurisdictions also send additional informative materials to registered voters. If you do not receive the information in the mail, call the local election office at (209) 385-7541 or toll-free 800-561-0619. To view your local polling site please visit the Merced County Elections Web site at

When is it necessary to re-register to vote? 

You need to re-register if you move, change your name, wish to change political party affiliations or if your signature has changed.

I am interested in getting involved in a political organization on campus. What is available? 

There are political organizations on campus including Campus Democrats at UC Merced and, College Republicans at UC Merced. For more information, you can contact the Office of Student Involvement at or browse the campus organizations on the student organizations platform 

Where can I obtain more information about voter registration, voting, and elections? 

Additional information can be accessed at the following web sites:

California Student Voter Resource Guide:

The California Secretary of State has created a Student Voter Resource Guide with all the information a student will need when voting for this General Election. 

This resource guide is broken into separate PDFs: 

College Student Voter Registration Update:

Since the launch of the 2020 Ballot Bowl, the California Secretary of State Office has officially doubled the number of students registered the entire year of 2016. From September 21st to September 28th, over 15,000 students have registered to vote, a one week increase of 312.65%! 

Relive the California Higher Education Voting Summit Through Our Recordings and Slides:

Want to revisit a session? Missed a plenary? Check out the recordings and slides below.

  1. Slides from the summit
  2. Plenary Sessions: Password CASUMMIT2020!
    1. Introduction to the Summit with Moises Gonzalez (timestamp: 00.00)
    2. Student Best Practices Panel with the Secretary of State (timestamp: 9:30)
    3. Race to the Polls: Discussion on Structural Racism in Voting (timestamp: 1:53:10)
    4. Closing Remarks with Emily Thomas (timestamp: 3:12:40)
  3. Rapid Fire Resources: Password: ^8bdm8cC
  4. Developing a Virtual Civic Engagement Plan: Password: a=w9ccge
  5. Voter 101: Getting 2020 #VoteReady: Password: Q7V3^2qZ