Voter Registration Requirements and Procedures

If you are over the age of 18, you have not been convicted of any serious crimes, and you are a citizen of the United States, you can register to vote. States are required to allow people to register when they renew their driver's licenses. They may also mail in registrations or register at various state and welfare offices, and agencies that serve people with disabilities. The registration from will ask for your name, address, age, and sometimes your party preference. They may also require that you provide a form of identification.

Steps in Voting

On Election Day in November, voters go to their local polling place. When you enter the polling place, write your name and address, and sign an application on the clerk's table. You will then go to the voting booth. You may now hand your application to the judge and cast your vote using a voting machine. The two most common types of machines are the punch-card machines and the lever machines.

What if you can't make it to the polls?

Citizens who cannot get to the polls on Election Day can vote by absentee ballot. If you already know you will be unable to make it, you must request an absentee ballot from your local election board and return it sometime before Election Day. Using this method, people who are traveling outside of town, those who are too sick to attend, and military personnel serving away from home can still vote.

Voter Behavior

Who Votes?

Some people choose not to vote. Sometimes people don't meet the voter requirements, or they have not registered after changing residences. Sometimes they may feel that there aren't any candidates that accurately represent their ideas and opinions, or they may just be too apathetic. A lot of people do choose to vote, though. Voting gives them an opportunity to choose their government leaders and a chance to voice their opinions and ideas. Voting also allows people to express their opinions on public issues.

Straight vs. Split Ticket

Straight ticket voting is the practice of voting for every candidate that a political party has on a general election ballot, while split ticket voting is voting for candidates from more that one party in the general election.

Ballot Fatigue

Ballot fatigue is when there are several names on a political ballot, and voters choose to ignore some candidates when there are too many choices.

Voter Information

Constitutional Amendments

15th Amendment: Granted the right to vote regardless of race.

17th Amendment: Required that Senators are elected by voters directly by popular vote instead of by state legislators.

19th Amendment: Granted the right to vote regardless of sex.

23th Amendment: Included the District of Columbia in the presidential election system, changing the amount of electoral votes the candidates can earn.

24th Amendment: Prohibited states from charging citizens a fee to vote in elections.

26th Amendment: Lowered the legal voting age from 21 to 18.

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