With the 2016 presidential election just around the corner, it is important to be prepared to vote even if you're not in your home state. After all, anything can happen—an unexpected work trip or even a pre-planned vacation—but that shouldn't keep you away from casting your vote on November 8. It's simple, it's easy, and here's how to do it.
Register to Vote
Here's some disappointing statistics—as of August 20, 2016, thirty-three percent of people who can vote aren't yet registered to do so. If you are among those people and you think you'll be able to register and vote on Election Day, the truth is that only 15 states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Vermont, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia) allow that. So it's imperative that you find out your state's deadline and register first before showing up at the polls. You can do it either in person, online, by mail, or even by text (seriously, you have no excuse). In fact, InStyle has teamed up with Rock the Vote to make it easier than ever to register online—click here for a very useful graphic that breaks it down by state. You're welcome.
Request an Absentee Ballot
The second step is to request your absentee ballot, which is available to all U.S. citizens who are unable to attend the polling station they have been assigned to.
If you live abroad, one way to both register to vote and get an absentee ballot is to fill out a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). It can be completed either online or you can pick up a hard copy from your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. If you do not receive your ballot on time, don't freak out—you can still cast our vote through a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot.
If you don't live abroad, but simply will be out of state on Election Day, you can simply request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you by clicking here. Choose your state from the list and fill out the form—it takes two minutes, we promise. After voting, simply mail back your ballot in the envelope provided in your absentee ballot package.
OK, technically requesting an absentee ballot is part of early voting, but if you want to cast your vote in-person, most states allow that. To see if your state is part of the 37 states (and the District of Columbia) where any qualified voter may cast a ballot in person prior to Election Day, click here.
Basically, whether you're away at college, on vacation, or for work, there is a way for you to take part in this year's presidential election and it's easy and fast enough to do it so you have no excuse not to. (#justsaying)