In the United States, voting is the legal right of every American. Each state has its voting regulations, and in all cases, the process is usually easy. But registering to vote is expected in elections in all states apart from North Dakota.
However, it is important to contact the local elections office to learn more about your individual state election rules.
What is Voter Registration?
The Government uses the voter registration process to make sure that all who vote are by law eligible to do so in their correct location. To register to vote, you need to provide your correct name, current address and specific information as requested by your government office in your area. It might be a city, state or county office.
Bear in mind that all states allow absentee voting.
Why must you register before voting?
Your voter registration helps the election office determine the exact address and district where you can vote. It also ensures that you cast your vote only once for each set of candidates. Different districts in the US have different people candidates. Without this process, you might accidentally vote for people who are not within your immediate district. Most districts can be very small, while others can stretch for miles.
What makes you eligible to register to vote?
To register to vote in the United States, you must:
- Be a US Citizen, 18 and above years by the next election
- A resident of the district and state
- Must not be mentally incompetent or a felon ( not for all states)
There many more rules but these rules differ from one local government or district to the other. You must register to vote at least 30 days before the election Day. But this is different in some states.
Alabama, for example, requires at least 10 days while Connecticut states at least 14 days before the election. States like Wyoming, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Maine and Idaho have same-day registrations. For those states, you need to go with identification and proof of where you live to vote and register at the same time.
You can check your individual voter registration deadline by clicking here.
Does filling the voter registration form make me eligible?
No, filling the form is not the final step. Some applications get lost. Others contain inaccurate information. You must wait to receive a card from the elections office stating that you have registered.
If you don’t receive this card, then you should give them a call. Ask about the problem, and request another form. Fill carefully and mail it back.
Who cannot Register to Vote in the U.S?
Generally, people who are in any of the following positions cannot register to vote:
- Non-citizens including permanent legal residents (green-card holders)
- People convicted of criminal offences ( some states have exceptions)
- people who have been declared mentally incompetent ( some states have exceptions)
How to Register to Vote in the US?
There are many different places, where you can get the Voter registration form, but this differs by state and county. In some states, motor vehicle office is required to offer voter registration application forms. In other states, public libraries, public schools, offices of country and city clerks, tax offices, unemployment compensation offices and all kinds of local and state government offices must offer these forms.
If you don’t want to find those offices, you can also register to vote by mail. Call the local elections office and request that they send the application to you. You can find the phone numbers in the government pages section of the phone book.
Voter registration offices, increase around the time of elections. Most political parties set up these offices in college campuses and shopping malls. Bear in mind that you can register at those centers but you don’t have to register in their political party.
Provide this information
When registering, you need to provide your biodata and status of U.S Citizenship. You also need to give the last four digits of your Social Security number or your driver’s license number. Make sure you feel the form correctly.
You may need to provide information about the choice of your political party. This might not be compulsory, you can always choose to register as “no party” or “independent”.
But remember that some state will not allow you to vote in your party’s primary elections if you don’t specify the party affiliation
After your application, wait to receive your card of notification that you have registered successfully. This card will indicate the exact location where you can vote.
Register Online if you can
As of 2016, over 31 states in the US now allow registrations. You can check this link to see of online voter registration is available for your state.
Some states may not have online registration portals, but you may still register online through Rock the Vote. You can also check your territory election committee website, to see if they have their own registration websites.