Voting Outreach FAQS

What are the 4 Simple Steps of Voting?
Am I eligible to vote?
How do I register to vote, and when?
I just moved away to go to college, how do I vote here?
Am I registered once I fill out and mail the registration form?
Must I read or write English in order to register to vote?

What is absentee voting, and how do you do it?

Once I register for the first time, do I have to do it again?
When is the presidential election?
What are the main political parties?
In a federal election, what will I be voting on?

How do I find out where to vote on election day?

What should I bring with me to my polling place?
What time do polling sites open and close?
Can I still vote if I’m in the armed forces or living abroad?

Do I have to register with a political party?

 
What are the 4 Simple Steps of Voting?
Step 1: Register to vote.
Step 2: Find out where to vote. You'll receive your polling place information in the mail after you register. Polling places can change at the last minute, so be sure to double-check it right before Election Day.
Step 3: Become an educated voter.
Step 4: Mark your calendar for Election Day, November 4, 2008 and VOTE!
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Am I eligible to vote?
The Federal Election Commission requires you to:

  • Be a citizen of the United States.
  • Be a resident of the state in which you're planning to register (If you just moved to a new state for school, click here to find out more about absentee voting.)
  • Be at least 18 yearsold at the time of the next election.

In addition, most states have the following two requirements. You must:

  • Not be imprisoned or on parole for the conviction or a felony.
  • Not currently be judged mentally incompetent by a court of law.

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How do I register to vote, and when?
Before you can vote, you have to register to vote (except in North Dakota). Each state has a different deadline for voter registration, but in most states, you need to register at least 30 days before Election Day, November 4, 2008. Follow the directions for completing the form, and then mail it to the address listed for your state's chief election official. Remember that this form is for use by people who live in or have an address within the U.S. (So, if you just moved away to college, you need to be a resident (have a lease, energy bill, etc.) in order to register to vote in that state. Also, if you are registering to vote for the first time, you must include a photocopy of a government-issued ID with your photo and address on it (a driver's license or U.S. passport). This photocopy must be mailed along with your completed and signed voter registration form to your state's election office (the address already on the form). A few states do not accept MAIL-IN voter registration forms, which means that you must register in person. The states that don't accept mailed-in voter registration forms include: New Hampshire (will only accept a mailed-in form as a request for its own absentee voter registration form) and Wyoming. Make sure you understand the rules for your state. Some states have same-day registration, and other states require your first vote to be in person. Don't forget your government-issued ID: If you register for the first time in a state by mail, you must present ID at the polls. Just keep that photo ID with you when you go to vote, because you just might need it.
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I just moved away to go to college, how do I vote here?
If you just moved to a new county or state for college, you can still vote in the upcoming election. If you're a resident of the town you live in (have a lease, utility bill in your name, etc.) you can register and vote where you currently live. If you live in on-community housing you most likely still have residency in your home state (the address on your driver's license or ID card) and you can vote absentee. A little about voting and living on community:

  • If you live in a dorm with a school mailbox address or get your mail at a Post Office Box address you need to do things a little differently. If you receive mail in a Post Office box you can sign an affidavit or get a letter from your college's Residential Life office, asserting that you live at your dorm address.
  • If you have a Post Office Box as your permanent address, your voter registration form will not be processed. There is a section on the voter registration form to put your mailing address, in addition to your physical address.
  • In both cases you can also register to vote absentee using your home state address.

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Am I registered once I fill out and mail the registration form?
No. You cannot be sure you are registered until you get a voter notification card from the county. If the notification card does not arrive within three weeks of mailing your registration, call your Registrar of Voters or City/County Elections Office and ask if you are registered.
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Must I read or write English in order to register to vote?
No. You may register and vote even if you cannot read or write. You may take to the voting booth a literate and registered individual who can assist you in the voting process, but not actually vote for you. Election Assistance Committee offers in-language voter glossaries and other resources. (http://www.eac.gov/program-areas/language-accessibility)
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What is absentee voting, and how do you do it?
If you can't make it to the polls on Election Day, you may be qualified to vote absentee. Absentee voting is conducted by mail, and sometimes in person, before Election Day. Contact your local election officials to request an absentee ballot application. Some states allow voters to vote early, even if they are able to make it to the polls on Election Day. This practice is often referred to as early voting or no-excuse absentee voting. Many college or university students temporarily living away from home need to vote absentee. To request that an absentee ballot be sent to the address where you are physically planning to be on Election Day, you must fill out an absentee ballot request application for your home state.
 
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Once I register for the first time, do I have to do it again?
You must re-register (complete the whole form all over again), or provide a written note to your election official, every time you move or change addresses; make sure you register in the state in which you are a resident. You must also re-register or provide a written note to your election official if you change your name.
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When is the presidential election?
Tuesday, November 4, 2008.
 
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What are the main political parties?
Constitution Party: www.constitutionparty.com
Democratic Party: www.democrats.org
Green Party: www.gp.org
Independent American Party: www.usiap.org
Libertarian Party: www.lp.org
Reform Party: www.reformparty.org
Republican Party: www.gop.com
 
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In a federal election, what will I be voting on?
Because 2008 is a federal election year, you'll be voting to elect a president and vice-president, all members of the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as one-third of the U.S. Senate. But there's usually more on the ballot. You may be voting for a governor of your state or for members of the state legislature. You'll also likely be voting on other candidates and issues in your state, like a "ballot measure" (a proposed law). You may also be voting on a proposition, an amendment to your state's constitution, an initiative and/or other local issues. Make sure to be educated about the candidates and issues that are important to you. News about issues you'll be voting on in the upcoming election. Also be sure to check out candidates' websites, your local newspaper and other news sources you like and trust.
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How do I find out where to vote on election day?
The location where you will vote on Election Day, also known as your "polling place," is determined by your address. After you've registered to vote, you will receive a notification in the mail from the elections office that confirms you are now a registered voter. In some states, this notification will be a "voter ID card." The notice may also include information about where your polling place will be, so make sure to keep it. In some states, you will receive a "sample ballot" as Election Day nears. This booklet or paper may include your specific polling place for your home address, so you should definitely save it. You may want to mark your "sample ballot" with your voting choices and bring it with you on Election Day. Polling places can change until the last minute, so make sure to double-check your polling place online before election day.
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What should I bring with me to my polling place?
Every state is slightly different in its Election Day ID requirements. In all cases, you should bring a driver's license with you just to be on the safe side. (Again, if you don't have a driver's license, just contact your local election official listed in the phone book or online to check about other acceptable forms of ID.) Some states require you to bring a "voter ID" with you. Your "voter ID" card will come to you in the mail after you register to vote. In addition to your "voter ID," you will receive information telling you where your polling place is, and what you need to bring with you on Election Day. Also, if you marked your "sample ballot," be sure to bring it with you! It will not only help you remember how you planned on casting your votes for issues and candidates, it will also save you a ton of time in the voting booth.
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What time do polling sites open and close?
In all states, polling places generally open between 6 and 9 a.m., and they close between 6 and 9 p.m. However, each state varies slightly in its polling hours. Check your state's Secretary of State Web site for this information.
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Can I still vote if I’m in the armed forces or living abroad? All eligible Americans have the right to vote and you can too! While you still can vote, the rules for people in the armed forces or abroad are different than people living in the United States. For information about voting abroad, contact the Federal Voting Assistance Program (http://www.fvap.gov or 800-438-VOTE.) Also visit the Overseas Vote Foundation for detailed information on registering and voting overseas.
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Do I have to register with a political party? In some states you can't vote in the primary election if you are not registered with a party. To vote in the primary, please check early in the year with your state to ensure you are registered. All eligible voters, regardless of being registered with a party or not, can vote in the general election (November 4, 2008).
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****Direct Source: APIVOTE and Federal Election Commision

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