As I made my way to pick up a nutritious lunch of Insomnia Cookies sometime mid-Welcome Week, my mind began to wander and the phrase “Register to vote, and then vote!” suddenly rang through my head. This mantra, pounded into my brain by everyone, from the “colorful crayon” performers during the Presidential Welcome to President Andrew Hamilton, pushed me away from gaining my first few pounds of the freshman 15 and toward the voting registration desk in the Center for Student Life. My dramatically prolonged experience in the center led to my becoming an active voting citizen of New York City. Registering to vote in the state is a vital part of integrating yourself into the NYU community and the world that it offers, even if that means leaving behind the opportunity to vote in your home state for the time being.
Moving away from your home state should not inhibit you from voting this November. I myself was a registered voter in the state of California, which I gave up at the Kimmel Center for University Life in a possibly unrealistic declaration to stay in this enchanting city forever. With the desire to stay in New York for as long as possible fresh on my mind, I had to have known that it was necessary to relinquish my home state vote in order to register in another.
Yet I was unprepared to be asked the following question: “Do you want to fill out an absentee ballot?” I panicked — the idea of voting absentee went beyond my superficially strong but veritably limited knowledge on voting. I learned that if I wished to vote in my home state, I could do so from New York through this ballot. For me, the prospect of mailing my ballot in before an election seemed somewhat finicky, and I felt compelled by the imminent New York primaries. Either way, it is an important time for both those who feel comfortable giving up their home state voting rights and those who want to maintain representation at home to actively engage their voting abilities as citizens of the United States.
Voter turnout among young people is consistently low. Despite the fact that younger generations are considered to be politically engaged, thanks to social media, they also tend to be the most itinerant of age groups, moving to new cities for school or work before settling down. Although I have never voted in California, it feels as though my decision to register as solely a New York state voter seamlessly accompanies the transition into the next part of my life as a college student. Getting to exercise these voting rights as I start a life in New York makes it all the more of a place to call home.
While in the process of signing away one of the only legal adult ties I had to my home state, I grew increasingly aware of my transition into a full-fledged New Yorker (despite recently learning that my eager vote in the primaries did not count, since one must be a resident of New York for 30 days in order to register). Fortunately, however, the next elections for local, state and federal officials in New York City are on Nov. 6, giving prospective voters just enough time to register and wear their “I Voted” stickers, as I will, like a badge of honor.
Please exercise your civic duty in whatever way you see fit, whether you take the time to vote absentee or choose to register in New York — but note that there is something special about being able to vote where you live, and starting to grow some roots.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 17 print edition
Email Yasmin Patel at [email protected]