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Voting Rights and Voters Registration in the US

Updated on March 3, 2013
Voting in the US is a hard won privilege.
Voting in the US is a hard won privilege. | Source
Eligible citizens must register to vote by filling out and filing a form like this one.
Eligible citizens must register to vote by filling out and filing a form like this one. | Source
Each State has its own deadline voter registrations to be filed with the proper office.
Each State has its own deadline voter registrations to be filed with the proper office. | Source

By Joan Whetzel

All US citizens over the age of 18 have the right to vote in the US, with only a few exceptions. It wasn't always this way. Originally only white males who owned real estate were allowed to vote. But over the centuries, the US Constitution has been amended to expand the voter base and lift restrictions to voting.

Voting and the Constitution

A person's eligibility to vote in the US is established by both Federal and State law. Current laws allow voting with the following conditions:

  • The person must be a citizen of the United States to vote in US Elections.
  • Anyone born in the US or any naturalized citizen of the US, and the US state in which that person lives. (14th Amendment, 1868)
  • Race, color, or previous condition of servitude are no longer conditions for disenfranchisement. In other words, no one can be prevented from voting because of their race, the color of their skin, or because they or their families were once slaves or indentured servants. (15th Amendment, 1870)
  • Women can now vote. (19th Amendment 1920)
  • Everyone in Washington DC can now vote in Presidential elections, which was once prohibited because DC does not belong to a state.(23rd Amendment, 1961)
  • Poll taxes and other taxes were eliminated as a means of disenfranchising voters at federal elections (24th Amendment, 1964)
  • Anyone over the age of 18 can vote in the US. (26th Amendment, 1971)

Voter Eligibility

Voter eligibility requirements:

  • The person must be a US citizen.
  • The person must be 18 years or older in most states, with a few allowing for a 17 year old minimum.
  • Each state has its own minimum residency requirements - length of time you have lived in the state, and length of time you have lived at your current address.
  • Some states do not allow anyone convicted of a felony to vote.

Voter Registration

On the first Tuesday of November, every four years, the national elections are held in the US (2012 is the current round as of this writing). The main item on that ballot is the vote for the next President and Vice President. There are also spots to vote for US Representatives and Senators, as well as a number of state and local candidates and state and local laws to vote for. But these November Tuesdays every four years are not the only time voters can take advantage of their right to vote. Some of the US Senators and all of the US Representatives come up for election every 2 years, in November, and there are whole slew of state and local voting opportunities that fall at different times of the year. Owning a voters registration card ensures you many years of voting rights. So what do you need to do to register to vote?

  • Voter's Registration is governed on a state-by-state basis, with each state setting up the rules for the registration process.
  • · Citizens register in their county or parish.
  • · In the State of Texas, for instance, citizens can register online with their County tax Assessor-Collector and Voter Registration office.
  • · As an alternative, citizens go in person to fill out the form or to pick up a voter registration form and mail it in later. In Harris County, Texas, the Tax Assessor-Collector is Don Summers. Voter Registration application forms can be sent to:

Don Sumners
Tax Assessor-Collector and Voter Registrar
P.O. Box 3527
Houston, TX 77253-3527

  • · Other agencies where citizens can fill out a voter's registration application in Texas include: Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services
    Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services. Texas Department of State Health Services. Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), and Each marriage license office of the county clerk.
  • · To vote in the November Elections, Voter Registrations must be filed by a certain date. the deadlines are decide on a state wide basis.

Resources

Wikipedia. Voting Rights in the United States.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_rights_in_the_United_States

USA.gov. Voter Registration.

http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Voting.shtml

United States Elections Project. Voter Turnout.

http://elections.gmu.edu/voter_turnout.htm

United States Census Bureau. Voting and Registration.

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/socdemo/voting/index.html

Harris County Tax Office. Voter Registration.

http://www.tax.co.harris.tx.us/Voter/acquirevoterapp.aspx

How to Vote

Voting and You!

Comments

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    • profile image

      Walterlemi 4 years ago

      .

    • joanwz profile image
      Author

      Joan Whetzel 5 years ago from Katy, Texas

      Wow! It sounds like BIg Brother is getting into everything.

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 5 years ago from Southern California

      Joan

      In Los Angeles they are trying to use library cards with photo id for illegal aliens to be used to open up bank accounts. Even though federal law prevents using anything but a social security number, which illegal aliens are not permitted to get.

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 5 years ago from Southern California

      Joan

      Thanks, I had already written my hubs on it.

    • joanwz profile image
      Author

      Joan Whetzel 5 years ago from Katy, Texas

      I have chosen not to include discussion ofe the photo ID issue in this article. Anyone who wishes to discuss this issue, by all means feel free to discuss it here or even to write their own article on the topic.

    • joanwz profile image
      Author

      Joan Whetzel 5 years ago from Katy, Texas

      Yes it is a valid issue. I agree with your arguments. THank you for including this discussion.

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 5 years ago from Southern California

      Joan

      But the issue is still valid, and there is no real reason for it to be disputed.

      Without validating who is voting in our elections, the votes are in question, and so is the running of our country.

      It is like a recipe, if you don't check the ingredients, then you are not sure about the result.

    • joanwz profile image
      Author

      Joan Whetzel 5 years ago from Katy, Texas

      You're right, I didn't, mainly because it seems to be still up in the air. It is a hotly charged issue that is a long way from being settled.

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 5 years ago from Southern California

      You didn't mention the photo id issue for voting.

    • joanwz profile image
      Author

      Joan Whetzel 5 years ago from Katy, Texas

      You're right. It is our duty. Our country asks so little of us (asking only that we pay taxes and perform jury duty) )for all the things our government and way of life provides us, voting is one of those things we absolutely should exercise.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      lots of good information here for those in doubt. I wonder how many people follow all these good rules. Thanks for sharing all this.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Really well done thank you. It is not just a right but a duty.

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