A Pandemic And A Presidential Election Have Sen. Bennet Worried About How College Students Will Vote

Colorado State University CSU Campus Oval
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The Oval at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, May 27, 2020.

There are a lot of questions hanging over college students this fall, like whether or not they’ll be taking classes on campus or learning from their childhood bedrooms.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet wants to eliminate at least one uncertainty: Where they can vote.

He’s introduced a bill that would require colleges and universities to provide information to students on how to register to vote, even if they’re not on campus this November. Under current law, colleges and universities are required to send students “physically in attendance” on campus voter registration forms.

“We cannot allow the pandemic to keep millions of students from exercising their fundamental right to vote and shape our future in this democracy,” Bennet said. He thinks it could be as easy as sending an email to students with the relevant information.

While residency rules for voting vary state to state, if the college or university has encouraged  students to remain off-campus, the school would be have to send absentee ballot applications to students, along with clear instructions they are only for those eligible to vote in the state.

A companion bill has also been introduced in the House by Democratic Rep.. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois.  On the Senate side, Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Richard Durbin, and Cory Booker are sponsoring the bill.