- How do I vote?
- 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?
- What is absentee voting and how do you do it?
- Once I register for the first time, do I have to do it again?
- How does a political party select its nominee for the presidential election?
- What is the difference between a primary, a caucus, and a convention?
- Why do the dates for the primaries keep changing?
- What are the main political parties?
- What should I bring with me to my polling place?
- I’ve heard that some states are making it harder for young people to vote. What’s the deal?
- What if I never got my voter ID card in the mail or I lost it before the election?
- What time do polling sites open and close?
- Do I have to register with a political party?
How do I vote?
Step 1: Register to vote here.
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 here before Election Day.
Step 3: Become an educated voter. Check out the Learn section of this site to get informed on the candidates and issues that are important to you.
Step 4: Mark your calendar for the upcoming election day and VOTE!
Am I eligible to vote?
According to the Federal Election Commission, you must:
- Be a citizen of the United States
- Be a resident of the state in which you're planning to vote (If you just moved to a new state for school, click here to find out more about absentee voting.)
- Be at least 18-years-old at the time of the next election (Most states require a person to be 18 at least 30 days before 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
How do I register to vote? And when?
- Each state has a different deadline for voter registration, but in most states, you need to register at least 30 days before the election. Click here to find your state’s voter registration deadline.
- Find out here if you can still register.
- Don't forget your 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.
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, don't worry, you can still vote in the upcoming election. You just have to do things a little differently.
- If you're a resident of the town you live in for college (have a lease, utility bill in your name, etc.) you can register and vote in that town where you currently live.
- If you live in on-campus 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 in your home state. See below for more information on absentee voting.
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.
- 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. Click here to check your individual state's Secretary of State to be sure what to do for YOUR state.
- 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. Click here to see if this is available in your state!
Here's how you can request an absentee ballot:
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.
How does a political party select its nominee for the presidential election?
It is up to the members of a political party to choose the candidate to represent their party in the general (presidential) election. The candidates focus on a concentrated period of primaries and caucuses, which peaks with close to two dozen races on Super Tuesday but can continue through the Spring. The goal is to win enough electoral college delegates in each state to get their party's nomination.
What is the difference between a primary, a caucus, and a convention?
Primary: In a primary election, registered voters may participate in choosing the candidate for the party's nomination by voting through secret ballot, as in the general election. The number of votes a candidate receives determines the number of electoral college delegates they are awarded. Primaries can be either open (you can vote for a candidate outside of your party) or closed (you must be a member of the party to vote for that party’s candidate).
Caucus: In a caucus, party members join together in their precinct to pledge their support for a favorite presidential candidate, thereby awarding electoral college delegates to the candidate. The electoral college delegates usually publicly state who they are going to vote for, and so people can vote accordingly.
Convention: The series of primaries and caucuses culminate in a national convention in which a party’s nomination for president is formally announced. During the week long convention, the elected delegates cast their vote for a party candidate and the candidate with the most delegates gets the party's nomination. The end of the convention marks the beginning of the general election season.
Why do the dates for the primaries keep changing?
Traditionally Iowa holds the first caucus, which is then followed by the New Hampshire primary. Some have argued that this gives those two states an unfair advantage in determining which candidates will continue their campaign. Since there are few formal rules regarding the primaries, most of the dates are chosen out of tradition.
What are the main political parties?
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 Secretary of State election official to check on other forms of ID. You can find the contact info for all election officials by state here
). 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.
I’ve heard that some states are making it harder for young people to vote. What’s the deal?
Politicians in some states are trying to block young people from voting with new photo ID and residency laws. They are getting rid of things that make it easier for people to vote, like Election Day registration, early voting and pre-registration laws. We know you don't want to show up at the polls unprepared, and thanks to our friends at Rock the Vote you don’t have to. You can learn more about state by state attacks on youth voting here
and get a complete list of what already counts as a voter ID and what you'll need to get a new one in your state.
What if I never got my voter ID card in the mail or I lost it before the election?
This is nothing to worry about! Remember, not all states send out voter cards, so if you don't receive something in the mail you can always call your state's office and double check you are registered. Click here
to find the contact info for your state's Secretary of State office. Again, because this card includes your polling place address on it, make sure to double check your polling place the night before the election!
What time do polling sites open and close?
Do I have to register with a political party?
Sources:Declare Yourself,Rock the Vote