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Voting Rights and Voters Registration in the US
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 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.
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:
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.
Wikipedia. Voting Rights in the United States.
USA.gov. Voter Registration.
United States Elections Project. Voter Turnout.
United States Census Bureau. Voting and Registration.
Harris County Tax Office. Voter Registration.