The following information is specific to college students and explains residency requirements for voter registration and special absentee privileges for certain students. The State Board of Elections' regulations on voter registration provide guidance to college students as well as other first time voters that may have questions about how to register and where to vote in Virginia. For step-by-step details, see other areas of the website addressing registration and absentee voting.
How do College Students register to vote in Virginia?
A college student registers to vote in Virginia the same as any other applicant: every prospective voter must submit a voter registration application. Remember, you must update your voter registration information whenever you change your residence.
Every voter in Virginia must submit their residential address when registering to vote (a post office box cannot serve as a residential address). If you are unable to receive mail at your address, you must also submit a local mailing address.
A dormitory or college address can be an acceptable residential address and does not disqualify you from voting. If your local voter registration office is unable to determine your physical residency based on a college address you provided on your voter registration application, the local voter registration office will contact you to request further information needed to register you to vote. Providing your e-mail address and phone number on your voter registration application is a helpful way to ensure that the local voter registration office is able to contact you promptly. The local voter registration office may contact you by mail at the mailing address you provide on your voter registration application.
What is my residence?
A prospective voter must be a resident of the Commonwealth and of the precinct where he seeks to register. In order to establish “residency,” a prospective voter must have a physical location where they intend to stay for an unlimited time. A person can have residency in only one place at a time.
The applicant must determine and declare their residence and may change their intent at any time.
How do College Students vote?
A college student votes in the same manner as any other registered voter: you may vote in person on Election Day, vote early beginning 45 days ahead of an election, or vote absentee by mail.
Impact on Other Areas
Legal residence for voter registration purposes may or may not be the same as legal residence for census, driver’s license, federal and state income tax, state vehicle tax, tuition, or financial aid purposes. The Department of Elections and local election officials are not trained in these complex areas. You should consult appropriate advisors regarding these issues.