Voting is Important for a Healthy Democracy
Election season is right around the corner, and it’s an important time to have our voices heard. Voting is the way citizens have a voice on the issues that are important to them, and it’s vital for a healthy democracy. While we’re waiting for next year’s presidential election, we must vote during our state and local elections. The legislation passed at the state and local level has more of a direct and immediate impact on our daily lives. It allows us to have our voices heard and elect people who best represent us!
Find Out Your Voter Registration Status
We know voting is necessary for our democratic process, and knowing if you’re registered to vote is an essential step in the process.
Most states have a voter registration look-up tool you can use online. There, you can check your registration status, see where you can vote and who your local, state and federal representatives are. If you reside in either North Carolina or South Carolina, you can check out your voter registration status by clicking the links below.
Who Can Register to Vote?
In order to register to vote, every person must meet the following qualifications:
- Must be a citizen of the United States.
- Must live in the county of their registration and have resided there for at least 30 days before the date of the election.
- Must be at least 18 years old. A prospective voter can submit a registration form up to two years before their 18th birthday, if and only if they will be 18 at the time of the next general election.
- Must not be serving a sentence for a felony conviction (including probation or parole). If a prospective voter has previously been convicted of a felony, their citizenship rights must be restored.
Moved Recently? Make Sure to Update Your Registration in Time
It is important to note if you have moved recently, you must make sure to update your registration. This can impede one’s ability to vote in upcoming elections. Depending on the state rules and regulations, voter registration applications must be submitted at least 30 days before the election in which the prospective voter wants to vote. The registration deadline for North Carolina is October 5, 2019, and the registration deadline for South Carolina is October 6, 2019.
Special Circumstance: Voting Rights for People with Criminal Backgrounds
People with criminal backgrounds may face obstacles exercising their right to vote. People convicted of a felony are ineligible to vote while in prison, on parole or probation. A person’s voting rights are automatically restored upon completion of all supervised release. We encourage people with criminal backgrounds to update their voter registration status.
Special Circumstance: Voting and Homelessness
People experiencing homelessness or who are otherwise in housing transition face special challenges when registering to vote. People experiencing homelessness can register and vote in all 50 states. It is recommended registrants who are homeless list a shelter address as their voting address where they could receive mail. Alternatively, registrants who are homeless may designate a street corner or a park as their residence, instead of a traditional home address. The federal voter registration form and many state forms provide a space for this purpose. Remember, the best source of information about these issues is your state or county election officials.
Special Circumstance: Voting and Domestic Violence
Address Confidentiality Programs (ACP) and Confidential Voter Listings are programs administered by the state that enable survivors of domestic violence to vote without fear of being found by their abusers by providing a substitute address for all public records. Confidential Voter Listings only provide confidentiality on election-related public records. The National Network to End Domestic Violence provides a list of currently available programs. For more information on ACPs and Confidential Voter Listings in your state, contact your local election officials.
Special Circumstance: Voting with a Disability
Visit these links for information related to voting with disabilities from national organizations.
- Disability Vote Project: American Association of People with Disabilities
- Disability and Voter Turnout – Reports and fact sheets on voter turnout by people with disabilities
- National Disability Rights Network – Election Center 2016
- National Council on Disability – “Experience of Voters with Disabilities in the 2012 Election Cycle,” October 2013
- Bazelon Center 2012 Voting Rights Guide for People with Mental Disabilities
Every year millions of Americans are unable to vote because they missed a registration deadline, don’t update their registration or don’t know how to register. Hopefully, this voter resources guide provided all the necessary information you need to know about how to vote in this upcoming election season!
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