What region should I register to vote in?

With Election Day rapidly approaching and billboards, social media posts, and even USF organizations all strongly encouraging young adults to vote and educate themselves about what’s on the ballot, it begs the question to students of where they should register — should they vote in their hometown or switch to San Francisco, their new place of residence?

The majority of the Foghorn staff has decided not to change their registration, as we feel more connected to our hometowns. 38% of this year’s incoming class came to campus from somewhere other than California, and of those who did come from California, a majority are not from San Francisco. A lot of these students will move back home after they graduate, making their residence in the city impermanent.

If you’re only here during the school year, you’re essentially a “guest” in the city, especially while living on campus. While it’s wonderful to be engaged in politics, making permanent decisions for a temporary home just doesn’t feel quite right to many of us.

Being a college student here is very different from living here permanently. If students don’t understand the full implications and repercussions of their vote and intend on moving elsewhere post-graduation, they shouldn’t be voting here. Their decisions will only impact them for four years, but will continue to affect hundreds of thousands of others who have lived in the city for years and plan to continue living here.


Their decisions will only impact them for four years, but will continue to affect hundreds of thousands of others who have lived in the city for years and plan to continue living here.


It is also important to note which place will make more of an impact on your life and which policies you are more educated on. For some, voting in San Francisco might not affect them or their friends and family as much. In contrast, if your hometown has political ideologies that you don’t believe in, your vote has the ability to make more of a difference. Also, when students move to the city, many have little knowledge about the history of the city’s neighborhoods and policies, as well as the legacies of certain offices. Because of this, students risk being ignorant and uneducated as they place their vote, or being solely focused on the immediate present, rather than the impacts of the past and implications for the future. 


We also want to specify that if you do feel strong ties to the city, or you don’t intend on moving anywhere specific after graduation, it is better to be civic engaged here than not at all.


We do want to recognize that there are some situations that should be thought of on more of a case-by-case basis. We also want to specify that if you do feel strong ties to the city, or you don’t intend on moving anywhere specific after graduation, it is better to be civic engaged here than not at all. But, generally, the Foghorn is not in favor of people changing their voting registration to San Francisco unless they truly feel that San Francisco is their home and that the decisions voted upon in San Francisco really would affect their lives. 

One thought on “What region should I register to vote in?

  1. I am a senior enrolled in John Rothmann’s Fromm Institute class. I was astonished to read your editorial today regarding where college students should register to vote. When I was formerly a college student beginning in 1969, student voting was a highly contentious issue in some places. The right of students to vote in their adoptive college community was often denied under various state laws, using some of the same arguments you have offered in your editorial. For instance, you suggest that students are not really members of the community, rather they are impermanent “guests.” Well, I think that is a specious argument, and it is one that was often applied by establishment types in college towns with a serious “town and gown” division. They would say students should not vote because they are inexperienced and have no connection to the community; what they really meant was that the student vote might upset the status quo. Well, why shouldn’t it? Students who are resident for, say, four years, spend most of their time in their new community and are right to take an interest in that community and learn about local issues–and vote! Besides which, if they wish to vote in their home towns, they will need to comply with absent voter rules which require them to apply for ballots and submit them according to deadlines that they might misss. It’s less complicated for students to just register and vote where they reside. However some students will feel a greater connection to the town where they grew up, and that is their perfect right, if they are willing to deal with absentee ballots or fly home to vote. The bottom line is, one size does not fit all, and it’s foolish for a college newspaper to tell students there is only one best way to handle this situation.

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