The Student's Guide to Voting

Exercising Your Right to Make a Difference

Since 1997, GoCollege has served and informed American college students. Lately, we've noticed a positive change in behavior of young voters which led us to produce this useful guide. Our main goal is to demonstrate and lead college students to exercising their powerful and fundamental right to vote. It is also a concise reference on the voting deadlines and procedures for all 50 states with different options available.

Although voting is not mandatory, we feel that it should be viewed as a privilage and responsibility. How we vote today directly affects how we will live tomorrow.

Our team at GoCollege asked our leaders in Washington DC to offer guidance to the college students and future of America. Here is their response:

"Tired of your views being ignored? Voting is your chance to be heardand to make a difference," Rep. Miller wrote. "Last November, Americanscame out and voted for a change and we in the new congress haveaccomplished a lot so far - we've raised the minimum wage, made college moreaffordable and protected the environment by increasing fuel economy standards for cars. If everyone came out to vote on Election Day, it wouldmean that each person in this country is being heard, that everyone'sopinion counts, regardless of age, whether he is 18 or 89. That's howchange happens - express your views at the ballot box."

- Congressman George Miller, Committee Chairman on Education and Labor

Sections

 

Background on Young Voters

The 2008 election will see a powerful boost from the increasing number of engaged young voters. The presidential elections of 2004 started this important trend. In 1972, the government adjusted the minimum voting age from 21 to 18. As a result, that year experienced the most turnouts for the 18-24 year old range. After the 1972 presidential election, there has been almost a 3 decade decline on the youth voter turnouts. The only year that saw a hike from the youth turnouts were the 1992 presidential campaign. The popular explanation for 1992 was that most of America grew concerned and weary from the war in Kuwait and Iraq that started in 1990. Lives were lost and the economy took a hit.

The Merging of Digital and Reality

The same concerns over the economy and the war in Iraq are taking place today as it did in the early 90's.

However, during the last few years, our youth have amassed a powerful influence through Internet. It took the world by surprise and large corporations struggle to understand this phenomenon. The web has changed drastically since the last presidential election. Former buzzwords amongst hard core techies like Web 2.0 and Social Media are now a common term to the masses. Just what exactly is this Web 2.0 and Social Media? It has different meanings to different people but in its most simplest definition it is COLLABORATION.

It includes sites like YouTube that rivals well established channels such as CNN in viewers. Anyone can express themselves via video with free hosting. Anyone can voice their opinions through blogs and comments. RSS feeds delivers the news you choose straight to your inbox or homepage.

Facebook.com started out in US colleges and is now a one of the most visited sites on the web. What age group belongs to the bulk of its users? The 18-24 range. Their users created groups for their ideal candidate and have friends further spread the message. Declareyourself.com is a non-partisan group aimed at reaching the young voters. They promoted a viral video on myspace.com, the biggest social media website and received 600,000 viewers. The result was an increase in online registration from the young group. In fact, research conducted by PEW American reported that a staggering 92% of Americans in the 18-29 years group use the Internet.

So yes, young voters are finally more engaged. But the question is, should we always be at war or suffering economic turmoil to be involved in the voting process? This is why we feel that voting should be seen as a responsibility.

Why Should We Vote?

Vote to Get Our Issues Addressed

Unfortunately in the past, political campaigns overlook the young voting group and spend their budgets to woo the older crowd. Sometimes politicians make it difficult for students to vote when they confuse them on where they should vote. This seems unfair but it can easily be justified. Every election year the percentage of eligible youth who actually register and vote is small when compared with other demographics. The youth market is not ignored but it is also not considered a main platform for campaigns. This is why we encourage college students to vote and make that change. It is already happening and if we keep the momentum, candidates will soon address the important issues we face.

Vote to Reduce Our Burden

Fact is, most election issues directly affect the youth of our nation.
The war in Iraq, education funding for both public school and post-secondary, employment programs, the devaluation of the U.S. dollar and the shrinking economy are just a few of the current topics that directly affect the quality of our lives today and tomorrow. And if thing's aren't going too well, voting can give you the permission to complain and stand out.

Vote to Promote Democracy

If no one voted, democracy wouldn’t work. Democracy wouldn’t function properly and the system would crumble. Luckily, enough people still vote to keep it all afloat. But you can make democracy even more representative of the people by casting your ballot. Could you imagine what would happen if the youth group suddenly rose up and voted? It would dramatically throw off any projected outcomes by political pundits.

The Voting Process 

Requirements

Many people are simply confused about the entire voting process. It’s actually pretty simple and we’ll break it down step by step.

Step 1: Register 

Before you can take part in the voting system, you have to register to vote. The requirements vary from states but generally, you have to be a U.S. citizen and at least 18 years of age. The registration form will include basic information like your name, address, social security number and your party. You can always select undeclared if you are unsure. You will have to register with the county in which you are currently living in order to vote. Remember: if you to a different state for college, you will need to register again with your new address.

Students also take advantage of absentee votes which allows them to vote for their home state provided that they have already registered to vote.

A popular and more convenient way to register is through the Internet. Websites such as rockthevote.com and declareyourself.com can make the registration process quick and easy.

Step 2: Find Your Polling Place 

Your polling place should be listed on your sample ballot. Once you’ve registered to vote and the voting day draws near, you’ll receive a sample ballot in the mail. A sample ballot includes all of the candidates, their stances and the various issues that are to be voted on as well. Make sure you note where your polling place is located so it won’t be a mad rush on voting day.  

Step 3: Bring I.D. 

You will most certainly require I.D. when voting. This is so that poll workers know you are who you say you are and that you are registered to vote. Each state has different requirements when it comes to what identification is required. You can check to see what your state’s requirements are by scrolling down further on this page.  

Step 4: Educate Yourself 

This is perhaps the most important step to the voting process. After all, what good is it to register to vote if you have no idea who to vote for? That’s where education comes into play. It is your job to educate yourself on the candidates and the issues so that you can make an informed decision. Don’t rely on TV news for your information. Read the voter’s guide that comes with your sample ballot and research the issues on your own. You are bound to find more accurate information and compelling data that will sway you one way or the other. There are many unbiased resources online that present up to the minute facts and information to help voters better make informed decisions including www.usa.gov and www.votesmart.org.  

Step 5: Vote 

Now all there’s left to do is actually vote. The most important thing you can do here is to clearly mark and remember the date you are to vote. There would be nothing worse than preparing and then missing the vote date! Try to go earlier in the day, if you can as polling places tend to get a bit crowded later in the day as everyone gets off of work. Be sure to read the instructions on the ballot carefully. Each state has different ballot types so read the directions and follow them precisely.

Work the Polls 

While you’re at it, why not volunteer as a poll worker? Each and every polling place needs poll workers to help keep everything on track and to ensure all voters that want to vote get to vote. Most states pay poll workers as well. Again, each state has their own means of selecting poll workers and applications vary. Check with your state’s chief election official’s office on how to apply to be a poll worker.   

The Electoral College 

The Electoral College is a system that actually determines who the next president will be. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “I thought the individual citizens of this country determine who will be president!” Before you get all worked up, let me explain this system.  

You cast your vote in the popular vote. People in every state do the same. Once voting is over, all of the votes are tabulated in each state. This determines who won the state. Next, the electors will cast their votes. They most usually cast their votes based on who won their state in the popular vote. Some people have gone against what their state said, but most stick with this tradition. Once the electors vote, the next president is decided.  

Now, I know you’re probably wondering why on earth you need to know all of this, but it serves as a foundation for what is to come. Let’s briefly discuss the various parties that often end up on the ballot.  

The Issues 

There are many hot button issues facing the country at the moment. Many are vigorously debated over such as abortion, same-sex marriage and illegal immigration. Let’s discuss the major issues and its current state.

Education 

Education is obviously of great importance to students! And even if you don’t enjoy all of your classes, increasing tuition costs and reduced curricula are obviously going to be of concern. That said, education is an issue both political parties sound off on often. One could say this is to sway the “student vote”—young people like you—to their side. Even so, once you look past all of the rhetoric, it is undeniable that education is an important thing to pay attention to.  

Many public schools in the K-12 system lack the funding they need to provide an adequate learning environment for students. This means a lack of textbooks, run down facilities and a shortage of teachers. Areas that contain high minority populations tend to suffer the most in this regard, as funding is often based on standardized test scores and when students aren’t learning due to poor conditions, they don’t perform well on the tests, fueling a never-ending cycle. There is also the No Child Left Behind act. While noble in principle, many teachers and administrators and work with it everyday are finding it may not be the solution. And then to move attention to college campuses, tuition costs continue to increase, yet administrators continue to get pay raises. Something obviously doesn’t add up.  

Outsourcing, Job Security and Quality

More businesses are outsourcing white collar jobs such as accounting and engineering to other countries leaving a lower demand for American workers. Forester Research illustrates the magnitude of the effect this will have on the economy, suggesting that at least 3.3 million white-collar jobs and $136 billion in wages will leave the United States to lower-cost centers offshore by 2015. The earnings for young workers have declined considerably compared to a generation ago. In 1972, the typical 25-to-34-year-old male high-school graduate earned just more than $42,000, in inflation-adjusted dollars; today they're earning just $29,000. Even in the recession of the early 1980s, workers still made more money in real terms than those with only a high-school degree do today. For college graduates, in 1972, a young adult male with a bachelor's degree or higher earned on average $52,087, in inflation-adjusted dollars. In 2002, young male college grads earned $48,955. Typical earnings for female workers have risen over the last three decades, but still fall well short of what they're male peers earn.

Economy 

It seems a recession is imminent due to the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the next president will have to take an active role in shoring up the economy if we are to come out on top. Currently, the country has an enormous national debt of $.9.2 trillion. The next president will also need to address this issue and strive to balance the budget or at least get spending headed in the right direction.  

Healthcare 

Healthcare is another very important issue we are all faced with today. Did you know that 45 million people in this country have no health insurance? With healthcare premiums through the roof and insurance companies dictating what treatments a person can get, rather than what the doctor thinks, there is a serious problem at hand. The next president will need to be one that tackles this issue head on and proposes a solution to the healthcare crisis once and for all. Whether that is by means of a universal healthcare program, reduced fees or tax breaks for employers that provide health coverage to their employees, we’ll have to see. However, it is important to note that it is not just the nation’s poor that go without health coverage. Many employers can’t afford to pay for health coverage for their employees at this time. And individual insurance premiums can be anywhere from $200 to $600 a month! I’d say this is something we have to think about, wouldn’t you?  

War and Security 

The war is an issue all of us are affected by. Whether it is by means of a friend or loved on in the military or the economic effects the war has caused, everyone in this country feels it. Numerous casualties have been reported, and with no end in sight to the war, the weight of it is sure to impact the next president. When considering a candidate, you will need to think of who you think will best deal with the current situation and who has the best plan for moving forward.  

Environment 

The environment has never been more important. With the alarming rate of global warming, resource waste and the energy crisis, the next president will need to be one that takes a strong stance on the environment and works to enact policies that can protect our environment and our place on earth!  

The Parties  

Political parties are often a great source of divisiveness in this country. You know what they say about how you’re not supposed to discuss religion or politics during dinner? It’s true! People feel very passionately about their beliefs, and political views can take on a religious fervor for some. That said, it is important to understand the political parties in this nation and what they stand for so you can get a sense of where you fit into all of this.  

Democratic Party 

The Democratic Party is the oldest party in the U.S. and has its roots in the Democratic-Republican Party, which was founded by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson in 1792. The party split into the Democratic and Republican parties in 1912 and since then, the Democrats have been primarily concerned with social issues. For instance, Democrats believe in preserving social freedoms, alleviating poverty and focusing on progressive issues. Democrats also believe that progressive taxes can be the solution to many social injustices.  

Republican Party 

The Republican Party is one of the two major parties in the U.S. and is often referred to as the “Grand Old Party” or the GOP, even though it is younger than the Democratic Party. Republicans are often conservative in their social views and believe small government is the way to go in order to allow greater economic freedom. While Republicans were traditionally associated with an economic point of view (limiting government will help society) it has increasing been associated with the “religious right” or socially conservative individuals against certain issues like abortion or gay marriage.  

Green Party 

The Green Party is called a third party because it is the third in a predominately two-party system. Even so, the Green Party has garnered much attention due in large part to Ralph Nader who ran for office in 1996 and 2000. A major focus for members of the Green Party is environmentalism and a strong stance on nonviolence and social justice.  

Libertarian Party 

Established in 1971, the Libertarian Party is also a third party and has more people in office currently that all of the other “third parties” put together. Libertarians believe in minimally regulated markets with lowered taxation, privatized Social Security and welfare, free trade and the protection of individual rights and freedoms.  

Constitution Party 

The Constitution Party was founded in 1992 under the name U.S. Taxpayer’s Party. It supports a platform that is based on the Bible and states that the Constitution should be brought back to its Biblical roots. They believe that just about all taxation should be abolished and they are socially conservative.  

Independent 

The title “Independent” does not reflect anyone particular party. It simply means that an individual is not tied to a party and votes based on a candidate to candidate basis, rather than pledging allegiance to any one party.  When you register to vote, you can select “Independent” as your party if you have thoroughly reviewed the parties and find that none of them best represent you.  

Got all that? I hope so, because now we’re going to move onto the individual issues the country is currently facing.  

Making a Decision  

Okay, so you know about the issues and the major candidates, but what do you do with that information? Well, you can’t jump and make a decision about who you want to vote for based on this information alone. Take the initiative and perform some research. Which candidates interest you? Visit some non-partisan websites like www.ontheissues.org to get an idea of how each candidate has voted in the past. Remember: listening to candidates speak is not enough. Nor is just visiting their websites. You need to get at information that is unbiased.  Once you have compiled all of this information for yourself, it’s time to make a decision. Who speaks to you the most? Whose stance on the issues most closely resembles your own? Who do you feel can best run the country? Once you answer these questions, you should be able to arrive at an answer that is pleasing to you.

The Future Is Now 

I know it sounds trite and played out to say the “future is now” but it really is! Think about it: what you do today directly affects your future. So why should voting be any different? When you vote, you are saying that you believe this individual is fit to lead the country. That’s pretty important, don’t you think?  

Spreading the Word 

It’s not enough just to cast your ballot. I know this all might seem like a lot of work, but this is your future we are talking about! Besides, if you are passionate about voting, then it should be easy for you to do your part by spreading the word.  Have friends that are on the fence about voting? Do your best to sway them! Now, I don’t mean try to convince people to vote for a certain candidate. While you could certainly campaign for a candidate, it is probably best to have a more diplomatic approach when dealing with those close to you. There’s no need to preach or dictate. However, you can openly discuss the merits of voting, the various benefits and the importance. Too many young people are apathetic to the current state of affairs and that’s just inexcusable! Let people know it! You can also pass out flyers to help get the word out. Whether it’s just a reminder to vote or a reminder for a campaign rally, you can do your part simply by letting others know how to do there’s!  

If you have some friends that are willing to listen but not so willing to go out on voting day, drag them along to a campaign rally. What you can hope for is to expose someone to new information so that they become inspired to vote. This isn’t underhanded or sneaky. It’s merely an attempt to open the eyes of other young people that up until now have seen the whole voting process as something that doesn’t apply to them.  To sum it all up: go vote! Yes, it is that simple. Register, do your research and get out on polling day. While your single vote may not seem like much of a force, combined with like-minded people, your vote counts in a major way. So come November, change the image of the youth vote and show that young people do care about the state of the country and the issues that affect us all.  
Go vote!

Voting Requirements and Deadlines by State

ALABAMA

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a citizen of Alabama and your county at the time of registration
  • Be 18 years old before any election
  • Not have been convicted of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the penitentiary (or have had your civil and political rights restored)
  • Not currently be declared mentally incompetent through a competency hearing
  • Swear or affirm to "support and defend the Constitution of the U.S. and the State of Alabama and further disavow any belief or affiliation with any group which advocates the overthrow of the governments of the U.S. or the State of Alabama by unlawful means and that the information contained herein is true, so help me God"

Registration Deadline: Voter registration is closed during the ten days preceding an election. Applications must be postmarked or delivered by the eleventh day prior to the election

State Election Website: www.sos.state.al.us/election/index.aspx
SOS Website: www.sos.state.al.us/index.aspx

 
ALASKA

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be at least 18 years old within 90 days of this registration
  • Not be a convicted felon (unless unconditionally discharged)
  • Not be judicially determined to be of unsound mind, unless the disability has been removed
  • Not be registered to vote in another State

Registration Deadline:30 days before the election 

State Election Website:www.elections.state.ak.us/
Lt. Governor Website: http://ltgov.state.ak.us//

 
ARIZONA

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Arizona and your county at least 29 days preceding the next election
  • Be 18 years old on or before the next general election
  • Not have been convicted of treason or a felony (or have had your civil rights restored)
  • Not currently be declared an incapacitated person by a court of law

Registration Deadline: 29 days before the election

State Election Website:www.azsos.gov/election/
SOS Website:www.azsos.gov/

 
ARKANSAS

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Live in Arkansas at the address in Box 2 of your voter application
  • Be at least 18 years old on or before the next election
  • Not be a convicted felon (or have completely discharged your sentence or been pardoned)
  • Not claim the right to vote in any other jurisdiction

Registration Deadline: 30 days before the election

State Election Website:www.sosweb.state.ar.us/elections.html
SOS Website:www.sosweb.state.ar.us/

 
CALIFORNIA

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of California
  • Be at least 18 years of age at the time of the next election
  • Not be imprisoned or on Parole for the conviction or a felony
  • Not currently be judged mentally incompetent by a court of law.

Registration Deadline: 15 days before the election

State Election Website:www.ss.ca.gov/elections/elections.htm
SOS Website:www.ss.ca.gov/

 
COLORADO

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Colorado 30 days prior to election
  • Be 18 years old on or before election day
  • Not be confined as a prisoner or serving any part of a sentence under mandate

Registration Deadline: 29 days before the election. If the application is received in the mails without a postmark, it must be received within 5 days of the close of registration

State Election Website: www.elections.colorado.gov/DDefault.aspx?/main.htm
SOS Website:www.sos.state.co.us/

 
CONNECTICUT

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Connecticut and of the town in which you wish to vote
  • Be 18 years old on or before the next election
  • Not be convicted of a felony, except conviction for the crime of nonsupport (or have had your civil rights restored)

Registration Deadline: 1 day before the election

State Election Website:www.sots.ct.gov/ElectionsServices/ElectionIndex.html
SOS Website:www.sots.ct.gov/

 
DELAWARE

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a permanent resident of Delaware
  • Be at least 18 years old on the date of the next general election
  • Not be a convicted felon
  • Not be mentally incompetent

Registration Deadline: 20 days prior to the general election and 20 days prior to any primary election

State Election Website:elections.delaware.gov/
SOS Website:sos.delaware.gov/default.shtml

 
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of the District of Columbia at least 30 days preceding the next election
  • Be at least 18 years old on or preceding the next election
  • Not be in jail for a felony conviction
  • Not have been judged "mentally incompetent" by a court of law
  • Not claim the right to vote anywhere outside D.C.

Registration Deadline: 30 days before the election

State Election Website:www.dcboee.org/
SOS Website:os.dc.gov/os/site/default.asp
 
FLORIDA

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a legal resident of both the Florida and of the county in which you seek to be registered
  • Be 18 years old (you may pre-register if you are 17)
  • Not now be adjudicated mentally incapacitated with respect to voting in Florida or any other State

Election Registration Deadline: 29 days before the election

State Election Website: election.dos.state.fl.us/

SOS Website:www.dos.state.fl.us/

 
GEORGIA

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a legal resident of Georgia and of the county in which you want to vote
  • Be 18 years old within six months after the day of registration, and be 18 years old by election day
  • Not be serving a sentence for having been convicted of a felony
  • Not have been judicially determined to be mentally incompetent, unless the disability has been removed

Registration Deadline: The fifth Monday before any general primary, general election, or presidential preference primary, or regularly scheduled special election pursuant to the Georgia Election Code. In the event that a special election is scheduled on a date other that those dates prescribed by the Georgia Election Code, registration would close on the 5th day after the call.

State Election Website:www.sos.state.ga.us/elections/default.htm
SOS Website: www.sos.state.ga.us/default800.asp

 
HAWAII

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Hawaii
  • Be at least 16 years old (you must be 18 years old by election day in order to vote)
  • Not be in jail for a felony conviction
  • Not be "non compos mentis"

Registration Deadline: 30 days before the election

Date of Democratic Caucus: Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Democratic Caucus Registration Deadline: Sunday, January 20, 2008 (30 days prior)

Date of Republican Primary: Hawaii's Republican Party will not technically be holding a presidential primary or caucus. Delegates will be selected during a week long period tentatively set for the first week in February, but the delegates will not be committed to any candidate.

Republican Primary Registration Deadline: Tuesday, January 1, 2008 (30 days prior)

State Election Website: www.hawaii.gov/elections
SOS Website: www.hawaii.gov/ltgov/

 
IDAHO

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of and in the county for 30 days prior to the day of election
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Not have been convicted of a felony, and without having been restored to the rights of citizenship, or confined in prison on conviction of a criminal offense

Registration Deadline: 25 days before the election  

Date of Republican Primary: Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Republican Primary Registration Deadline: Pre-registration is due by Friday, May 2, 2008 (25 days prior), registration is allowed on election day.

State Election Website:www.idsos.state.id.us/elect/eleindex.htm
SOS Website:www.idsos.state.id.us/

 
ILLINOIS

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Illinois and of your election precinct at least 30 days before the next election
  • Be at least 18 years old on or before the next election
  • Not be in jail for a felony conviction
  • Not claim the right to vote anywhere else

Registration Deadline: 28 days prior to each election

State Election Website:www.elections.state.il.us/
SOS Website:http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com//

 
INDIANA

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident in the precinct at least 30 days before the next election
  • Be at least 18 years of age on the day of the next general election
  • Not currently be in jail for a criminal conviction

Registration Deadline: 29 days before the election

Date of Primary: Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Primary Registration Deadline: Monday, April 7, 2008 (28 days prior)

State Election Website:www.in.gov/sos/elections/
SOS Website:www.in.gov/sos/

 
IOWA

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Iowa
  • Be at least 17- 1/2 years old (you must be 18 to vote)
  • Not have been convicted of a felony (or have had your rights restored)
  • Not currently be judged "mentally incompetent" by a court
  • Not claim the right to vote in more than one place
  • Give up the right to vote in any other place

Election Registration Deadline: Must be delivered by 5 p.m. 10 days before the election, if it is a state primary or general election; 11 days before all others. Registration forms which are postmarked 15 or more days before an election are considered on time even if received after the deadline.  

State Election Website: www.sos.state.ia.us/
SOS Website:www.sos.state.ia.us/

 
KANSAS

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Kansas
  • Be 18 by the next statewide general election
  • Not be imprisoned for conviction in any state or federal court of a crime punishable by death or imprisonment for one year or longer (or have had your civil rights restored)
  • Not claim the right to vote in any other location or under any other name
  • Not be excluded from voting for mental incompetence by a court of competent jurisdiction

Registration Deadline: Delivered by mail 15 days before the election or at caucus in person.   

State Election Website:www.kssos.org/elections/elections.html
SOS Website:www.kssos.org/

 
KENTUCKY

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Kentucky
  • Be a resident of the county for at least 28 days prior to the election date
  • Be 18 years of age on or before the next general election
  • Not be a convicted felon or if you have been convicted of a felony, your civil rights must have been restored by executive pardon
  • Not having been judged "mentally incompetent" in a court of law
  • Not claim the right to vote anywhere outside of Kentucky

Registration Deadline: 29 days before the election

Date of Primaries: Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Primary Registration Deadline: Monday, April 21, 2008 (28 days prior)

State Election Website:sos.ky.gov/elections/
SOS Website:www.sos.ky.gov/

 
LOUISIANA

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Reside in the state and parish in which you seek to register and vote
  • Be at least 17 years old, and be 18 years old prior tot he next election to vote
  • Not currently be under an order of imprisonment for conviction of a felony
  • Not currently be under a judgment of full interdiction or limited interdiction where your right to vote has been suspended

Registration Deadline: 30 days before the election

State Election Website:www.sos.louisiana.gov/elections/elections-index.htm
SOS Website: www.sec.state.la.us/

 
MAINE

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Maine and the municipality in which you want to vote
  • Be at least 17 years old (you must be 18 years old to vote)
  • Not be under guardianship because of mental illness

Registration Deadline: You can register to vote until, and including, election day. There is no cut-off date for registering to vote in person at your town office or city hall.

State Election Website: www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/
SOS Website:www.maine.gov/sos/

 
MARYLAND

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Maryland and the county in which you want to vote
  • Be at least 18 years old before the next general election
  • Not be under sentence or on probation or parole following conviction for an infamous crime (that is, any felony, treason, perjury, or any crime involving an element of deceit, fraud or corruption)
  • Not have been convicted more than once of an infamous crime, without a pardon
  • Not be under guardianship for mental disability

Registration Deadline: 9:00 p.m. 21 days before the election

State Election Website:www.elections.state.md.us/
SOS Website:www.sos.state.md.us/
 
MASSACHUSETTS

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Massachusetts
  • Be 18 years old
  • Not have been convicted of corrupt practices in respect to elections
  • Not be under guardianship with respect to voting

Registration Deadline: 20 days before the election

State Election Website:www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleidx.htm
SOS Website:www.sec.state.ma.us/

 
MICHIGAN

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Michigan and the city or township where you are applying to register to vote
  • Be 18 years old by the next election
  • Not be confined in a jail after being convicted and sentenced

Election Registration Deadline: 30 days before the election

State Election Website:https://services2.sos.state.mi.us/mivote/
SOS Website:www.michigan.gov/sos

 
MINNESOTA

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Minnesota for 20 days before the next election
  • Be 18 years old by election day
  • Not be convicted of treason or a felony; or have had your civil rights restored
  • Not be under guardianship of the person or found legally incompetent

Registration Deadline: You may register to vote by mail or in-person at your county courthouse (at least 20 days before the election to appear on the roster) or you may register at your polling place on election day

State Election Website:www.sos.state.mn.us/home/index.asp?page=134
SOS Website: www.sos.state.mn.us/home/index.asp

 
MISSISSIPPI

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Have lived in Mississippi and in your county (and city, if applicable) 30 days before the election in which you want to vote
  • Be 18 years old by the time of the general election in which you want to vote
  • Have not been convicted of murder, rape, bribery, theft, arson, obtaining money or goods under false pretense, perjury, forgery, embezzlement, or bigamy, or have had your rights restored as required by law
  • Not have been declared mentally incompetent by a court

Registration Deadline: 30 days before the election

Date of Primary: Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Primary Registration Deadline: Sunday, February 10, 2007 (30 days prior)

State Election Website:www.sos.state.ms.us/elections/voterinfoguide.asp
SOS Website:www.sos.state.ms.us/

 
MISSOURI

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Missouri
  • Be at least 17-1/2 years of age (you must be 18 to vote)
  • Not be on probation or parole after conviction of a felony, until finally discharged from such probation or parole
  • Not be convicted of a felony or misdemeanor connected with the right of suffrage
  • Not be declared incompetent by any court of law
  • Not be confined under a sentence of imprisonment

Registration Deadline: By 5:00pm on the fourth Wednesday prior to the election

State Election Website:www.sos.mo.gov/elections/
SOS Website:www.sos.mo.gov/

 
MONTANA

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Montana and of the county in which you want to vote for at least 30 days before the next election
  • Be at least 18 years of age on or before the election
  • Not be in a penal institution for a felony conviction
  • Not currently be determined by a court to be of unsound mind
  • Meet these qualifications by the next election day if you do not currently meet them

Registration Deadline: 30 days before the election

Date of Caucus: Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Caucus Registration Deadline: Monday, May 5, 2008 (30 days prior)

State Election Website:sos.mt.gov/ELB/Voter_Information.asp
SOS Website:sos.mt.gov/

 
NEBRASKA

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Nebraska
  • Be at least 18 years of age or will be 18 years of age on or before the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November
  • Not have been convicted of a felony, or if convicted, have had your civil rights restored
  • Not have been officially found to be mentally incompetent

Registration Deadline: Mail-in voter registrations must be mailed and postmarked on or before the third Friday preceding an election. Individuals may register in person at the county clerk/election commissioner's office prior to 6 p.m. on the second Friday preceding an election.

Date of Republican Primary: Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Republican Primary Registration Deadline: Friday May 2, 2008 (9 days prior)

State Election Website:www.sos.state.ne.us/elec/
SOS Website:www.sos.state.ne.us/

 
NEVADA

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Have attained the age of 18 years on the date of the next election
  • Have continuously resided in the State of Nevada, in your county, at least 30 days and in your precinct at least 10 days before the next election
  • Not currently be laboring under any felony conviction or other loss of civil rights that would make it unlawful for you to vote
  • Not be determined by a court of law to be mentally incompetent
  • Claim no other place as your legal residence

Election Registration Deadline: 9:00 p.m. on the fifth Saturday before any primary or general election. 9:00 p.m. on the third Saturday before any recall or special election. However, if a recall or special election is held on the same day as a primary or general election, the registration closes at 9:00 p.m. on the fifth Saturday before the day for the elections.

State Election Website:sos.state.nv.us/elections/
SOS Website:sos.state.nv.us/

 
NEW HAMPSHIRE

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have a permanent established domicile in the State of New Hampshire
  • Not having been denied the right to vote by reason of a felony conviction

Registration Deadline: New Hampshire town and city clerks will accept this application only as a request for their own absentee voter mail-in registration form, which must be received by your city or town clerk by 10 days before the election. You may register at your polling place on election day.

State Election Website:http://www.sos.nh.gov/electionsnew.htm
SOS Website:www.sos.nh.gov/index.html

 
NEW JERSEY

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of New Jersey and county at your address at least 30 days before the next election
  • Be at least 18 years of age by the time of the next election
  • Not be serving a sentence or on parole or probation as the result of a conviction of any indictable offense under the laws of this or another state or of the United States

Registration Deadline: 21 days before the election

State Election Website:www.state.nj.us/lps/elections/electionshome.html
SOS Website:www.state.nj.us/state/

 
NEW MEXICO

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of New Mexico
  • Be at least 18 years of age at the time of the next election
  • Not have been denied the right to vote by a court of law by reason of mental incapacity or felony conviction

Registration Deadline: 28 days before the election  

Date of Republican Primary: Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Republican Primary Registration Deadline: Tuesday, May 6, 2008 (28 days prior)

State Election Website:www.sos.state.nm.us/displayContent.asp?id=17
SOS Website: www.sos.state.nm.us/

 
NEW YORK

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of the county, or of the City of New York, at least 30 days before an election
  • Be 18 years old by the date of the general, primary, or other election in which your want to vote
  • Not be in jail or on parole for a felony conviction
  • Not currently be judged incompetent by order of a court of competent judicial authority
  • Not claim the right to vote elsewhere

Registration Deadline: 25 days before the election

State Election Website:www.elections.state.ny.us
SOS Website:www.dos.state.ny.us/
 
NORTH CAROLINA

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident North Carolina and the county in which your live for at least 30 days prior to the election
  • Be 18 years of age by the day of the next general election
  • Have your rights of citizenship restored if you have been convicted of a felony
  • Not be registered to vote in any other county or state

Registration Deadline: 25 days before the election

Date of Primary: Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Primary Registration Deadline: Saturday, April 11, 2008 (30 days prior)

State Election Website: www.sboe.state.nc.us/
SOS Website:www.secstate.state.nc.us/

 
NORTH DAKOTA

North Dakota does not have voter registration

State Election Website:www.nd.gov/sos/
SOS Website:www.nd.gov/sos/
 
OHIO

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Ohio for at least 30 days before an election
  • Be 18 years old on or before Election Day. If you will be 18 on or before the day of the general election, you may vote in the primary election for candidates only.
  • Not be convicted of a felony and currently incarcerated
  • Not be found incompetent by a court for purposes of voting
  • Not been permanently disfranchised for violations of the election laws

Registration Deadline: 30 days before the election

Date of Primary: Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Primary Registration Deadline: Monday, February 4, 2008 (30 days prior)

State Election Website: www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/PublicAffairs/voterInfoGuide.aspx
SOS Website:www.sos.state.oh.us/

 
OKLAHOMA

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States and a resident of Oklahoma
  • Be 18 year old on or before the date of the next election
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, for which a period of time equal to the original sentence has not expired, or for which you have not been pardoned
  • Not now be under judgment as an incapacitate person, or a partially incapacitated person prohibited from registering to vote

Registration Deadline: 25 days before the election

State Election Website: www.oklaosf.state.ok.us/~elections/
SOS Website:www.sos.state.ok.us/
 
OREGON

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Oregon
  • Be at least 18 years old by election day

Registration Deadline: 21 days before the election

Date of Primary: Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Primary Registration Deadline: Tuesday, April 29 2008 (21 days prior)

State Election Website:www.sos.state.or.us/elections/
SOS Website:www.sos.state.or.us/

 
PENNSYLVANIA

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States at least one month before the next election
  • Be a resident of Pennsylvania and your election district at least 30 days before the election
  • Be at least 18 years of age on the day of the next election
  • Not have been confined in a penal institution for the conviction of a felony within the last 5 years

Registration Deadline: 30 days before an election or primary

Date of Primary: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 (considering Feb. 12 or March 4)

Primary Registration Deadline: Monday, March 24, 2008 (30 days prior)

State Election Website: www.dos.state.pa.us/bcel/site/default.asp
SOS Website:www.dos.state.pa.us/dos/site/default.asp

 
RHODE ISLAND

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Rhode Island for 30 days preceding the next election
  • Be 18 years old by election day
  • Be neither serving a sentence, including probation nor parole, for which you were imprisoned, upon final conviction of a felony imposed on any date; nor serving any sentence, whether incarcerated or suspended, on probation or parole, upon final conviction of a felony committed after November 5, 1986
  • Not have been lawfully judged to be mentally incompetent

Registration Deadline: 30 days before the election

Date of Primary: Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Primary Registration Deadline: Saturday, February 2, 2008

State Election Website:www.sec.state.ri.us/elections
SOS Website:www.state.ri.us/

 
SOUTH CAROLINA

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of South Carolina
  • Be at least 18 years old on or before the next election
  • Not be confined in any public prison resulting from a conviction of a crime
  • Never have been convicted of a felony or offense against the election laws, or if previously convicted, have served your entire sentence, Including probation or parole, or have received a pardon for the conviction
  • Not be under a court order declaring you mentally incompetent
  • Claim the address on the application as your only legal place of residence and claim no other place as your legal residence

Election Registration Deadline:30 days before the election

State Election Website: http://www.scvotes.org/
SOS Website: www.scsos.com/

 
SOUTH DAKOTA

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Reside in South Dakota
  • Be 18 years old by the next election
  • Not be under a sentence of imprisonment for a felony conviction
  • Not have been adjudged mentally incompetent by a court

Registration Deadline: Received 15 days before the election

Date of Primary: Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Primary Registration Deadline: Monday May 19, 2008 (15 days prior)

State Election Website:http://www.sdsos.gov/electionsvoteregistration/registrationvoting.shtm
SOS Website:www.sdsos.gov/index.shtm

 
TENNESSEE

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Tennessee
  • Be at least 18 years old on or before the next election
  • Not have been convicted of a felony, or if convicted, have had your full rights of citizenship restored (or have received a pardon)
  • Not be adjudicated incompetent by a court of competent jurisdiction (or have been restored to legal capacity)

Registration Deadline:30 days before the election

State Election Website:www.state.tn.us/sos/election/index.htm
SOS Website:www.state.tn.us/sos/
 
TEXAS

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of the county in which the application for registration is made
  • Be at least 17 year and 10 months old (you must be 18 to vote)
  • Not be finally convicted of a felony. (Felons regain the right to register when pardoned, two years after receiving a certificate of discharge from the appropriate correction institution, or two years after completing a period of probation.)
  • Have not been declared mentally incompetent by final judgment of a court of law

Registration Deadline: 30 days before the election

Date of Primary: Tuesday, March 4 2008

Primary Registration Deadline: Monday, February 4 2008 (29 days prior)

State Election Website:www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/index.shtml
SOS Website:www.sos.state.tx.us/

 
UTAH

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident in Utah for 30 days immediately before the next election
  • Be at least 18 years old on or before the next election
  • Not be convicted of treason or crime against the elective franchise, unless restored to civil rights
  • Not be found to be mentally incompetent by a court of law

Registration Deadline: Postmark deadline-30 days before the election; Satellite Registration-you may register in person at a satellite registration site or at the County Clerk's office on the 15th and 18th day before the election.  

State Election Website: elections.utah.gov/
SOS Website:www.utah.gov/ltgovernor/
 
VERMONT

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Vermont
  • Be 18 years of age on or before election day

Registration Deadline: Delivered to the town clerk before 5:00 p.m. on the Wednesday preceding the day of the election

Date of Primary: Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Primary Registration Deadline: Wednesday, February 27, 2008 (6 days prior)

State Election Website: vermont-elections.org/soshome.htm
SOS Website:www.sec.state.vt.us/

 
VIRGINIA

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Virginia and of the precinct in which you want to vote
  • Be 18 years old by the next election
  • Not have been convicted of a felony, or have had your civil rights restored
  • Not currently be declared mentally incompetent by a court of law

Registration Deadline: Delivered 29 days before the election

State Election Website: www.sbe.virginia.gov/cms/
SOS Website:www.soc.state.va.us/
 

 

WASHINGTON

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a legal resident of Washington state, your county and precinct for 30 days immediately preceding the election in which you want to vote
  • Be at least 18 years old by election day
  • Not be convicted of infamous crime, unless restored to civil rights
  • Not be judicially declared mentally incompetent

Registration Deadline: 30 days before the election (or delivered in-person to the local voter registration office 15 days before the election)

State Election Website:www.secstate.wa.gov/elections/
SOS Website:www.secstate.wa.gov/
 

 

WEST VIRGINIA

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Live in West Virginia
  • Be 18 years old, or to vote in the primary, be 17 years old and turning 18 before the general election
  • Not be under conviction, probation or parole for a felony, treason or election bribery
  • Not have been judged "mentally incompetent" in a court of competent jurisdiction

Registration Deadline: 20 days before the election

Date of Primary: Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Primary Registration Deadline: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 (21 days prior)

State Election Website:www.wvsos.org/elections/main.htm
SOS Website:www.wvsos.com/

 
WISCONSIN

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Wisconsin for at least 10 days
  • Be 18 years old
  • Not have been convicted of treason, felony or bribery, or have had your civil rights restored
  • Not have been found by a court to be incapable of understanding the objective of the electoral process
  • Not make or benefit from a bet or wage depending on the result of an election

Registration Deadline: 20 days before the election (or completed in the local voter registration office up to 5:00 pm. 1 day before the election, or completed at the polling place on election day)

Date of Primary: Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Primary Registration Deadline: Tuesday, January 30, 2008 (20 days prior)

State Election Website:elections.state.wi.us/section.asp?linkid=270&locid=47
SOS Website:www.sos.state.wi.us/

WYOMING

You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be an actual and physically bona fide resident of Wyoming
  • Be 18 years of age on the day of the next election
  • Not be convicted of a felony or if so, have had your rights restored by a competent authority
  • Not be a currently adjudicated as mentally incompetent

Election Registration Deadline: Wyoming by law, cannot accept this form unless State law is changed. You may register to vote at your polling place on election day.

Date of Democratic Caucus: Saturday, March 8, 2008

Democratic Caucus Registration Deadline: Can register the day of the caucus.

State Election Website:soswy.state.wy.us/election/election.htm
SOS Website:soswy.state.wy.us/