The presidential election is an exciting time, politically. There are campaign events to follow and the two candidates come out with statements every day. Now, as we’re getting closer to Election Day, there are also the presidential debates to watch.
So, in the excitement, it can be easy to forget that you need to register to vote. If you’re used to voting, you are familiar with the process by now. But you could be a first time voter or you may have moved to a different state recently. Or maybe you just need a reminder of the process of registering to vote.
Here is a breakdown of everything you need to know in order to register to vote. It’s important for everybody’s voice to be heard in an election process. So you wouldn’t want something like logistics standing in the way of you casting your ballot.
One thing that is worth mentioning is that registering to vote is different from one state to another. And that’s because there are basically 51 voting systems in the United States, not just one. The Constitution says that states have the authority to organize elections, not the federal government. There is a lot of variation between states. For example, in Oregon, voters use mail predominantly to cast their ballot. Whereas other states ask almost all their voters to show up in person at the polls.
It’s helpful to consider voting as a two-step process. First you register to vote. The second step is casting your ballot. It is true that in a handful of states you can do both things at once.
Several Ways to Register to Vote
All states except North Dakota use some system for voter registration. In 38 states plus the District of Columbia you can register online. If you are in one of the states that don’t have online voter registration, you can use regular mail to register to vote. If you contact your local election board or your state election board they will mail you a voter registration application. Also, you can go online and print the federal registration form. After that, all you need to do is fill it out and then mail it in.
Federal law requires DMV offices as well as public assistance agencies to offer you the opportunity to register whenever you come into contact with them. There are also organizations that conduct drives for voter registration in public spaces like malls or even on the street. The campaigns also have voter registration drives that you can use to sign up.
If you’re not certain that your voter registration status is alright and up to date, you can simply check by calling either your county election board or your state election board.
Also, there’s a certain time frame when you can register to vote. If you want to participate in the 2016 presidential election you want to make sure that you have plenty of time to register. The deadline is approaching fast in some states where you have to register in advance. You could be fortunate enough to be in one of the 13 states plus the District of Columbia that have same-day voter registration available to voters. In that case, you can register and cast your ballot on the same day.
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