A federal judge ruled Friday that Fairfax County must allow 171 George Mason University students to vote next week after their voter registration applications were rejected for providing a generic university address.

U.S. District Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. ordered the county to allow students who submitted their applications on or before Oct. 15 to correct their address information, giving them until 5 p.m. Saturday to do so.

If the students miss that deadline, they must be allowed to vote Tuesday with a provisional ballot at the university’s Merten Hall precinct if they provide their specific addresses beforehand, the judge ruled.

This week, the nonprofit Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sued the county’s election officers in federal court in Alexandria after the students were told that the generic George Mason addresses on their applications made them ineligible to vote in Fairfax.

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Fairfax officials said they were trying to prevent situations in which students who do not live in the county were inadvertently allowed to vote there, noting that George Mason allows students who live off campus — potentially in neighboring counties or cities — to use university mailboxes.

The D.C.-based Lawyers’ Committee argued that the county’s position could cause widespread confusion for college students in Virginia because the website for the state elections department says that generic university addresses are acceptable forms of proof that a student is eligible to vote in a given area.

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