How to register to vote
Updated Aug. 2016: With the use of the Internet, there is no excuse not to register to vote. It’s a simple few steps that are spelled out on RegistertoVote.org. All you do is click on your state, complete a short online form, print it out and mail it to your local election office. All information is provided on Register to Vote. You can also go to your local elections office or county recorder for information and a voter registration form.
If you are 18 years-old and a U.S. citizen, you can register to vote in your local, state and federal elections. Each state has its own laws about who may register. You cannot be registered in more than one place at a time and you must be a resident of the state where you’re registering. In 2016, California and Oregon automatically register you to vote when you apply for or renew your driver’s license. Vermont and West Virginia also passed automatic voter registration laws in April 2016.
In addition to completing a form, registration requires proof of citizenship. When you register for the first time you may also be asked for your identification when you go to the polls to vote. Again, this is based on state laws and they vary. Proof of identification includes a current and valid photo ID, a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or government document that shows your name and address. Your driver’s license is acceptable in most states as well as a state identification card. If you don’t have any of these documents, providing the last four numbers of your social security number is acceptable. In the absence of any of these documents, the state may issue you a unique identification number so you can vote.
Register to vote on Facebook?
The state of Washington just made online registration even easier for some of it’s residents by allowing citizens of the state to register through their Facebook pages. Microsoft and Facebook partnered to create an app giving users the ability to register to vote on Facebook.
If you’re in the military, go to www.fvap.gov for a postcard to start the process of registering to vote.
Pay attention to your state’s deadlines for registering to vote. Time periods run from one week before an election to 30 days in many states.
There are a few restrictions on voting including a criminal record – if you have a felony on your record and your civil rights haven’t been restored then you cannot register to vote. This doesn’t apply if your offense was committed while you were under 18 and it was handled in juvenile court. Also, a person who has been adjudicated by a court as incapacitated is not eligible to register to vote.
You can also read more about voting rights by Googling the name of your state and “voter registration.” What’s important is that you and all of your friends take a few minutes and register. Then, come election day, get to the polls and exercise your Right to Vote. If you think your vote doesn’t count, so it doesn’t make a difference whether you vote or not, read this article by Judge Tom about how important your vote is in your life and those of everyone around you: “How One Vote Can Shape a Nation and Your Life.”
Look for Judge Tom and Natalie’s new book: Every Vote Matters: The Power of Your Voice, from Student Elections to the Supreme Court (March, 2016 Free Spirit Publishing).