Voter registration is a very important civic process that is normally carried out in democratic countries around the world (Lane 211). It is essential for citizens to have their personal details in the central voter register for them to be allowed to vote for their preferred parties and candidates during federal and state elections (Lane 211).
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Countries that have an effective resident registration do not need to conduct the voter registration process (Lane 211). The voter registration process is normally facilitated by both local and central governments (Lane 211). Although voter registration is not compulsory, it is the civic duty of a citizen to register as voter and at the same time participate in federal and national elections (Lane 213).
Advance registration is normally done in the majority of the states in the U.S apart from ten of them (Lane 213). The majority of college students are eligible to register as voters, and it would be very beneficial for them if they can understand how they can register as voters (Lane 213).
It is important to note that citizens can register to vote at the age of 16 but are not allowed to vote until they turn 18 years (Lane 218). Verification of voter eligibility is the first step in the voter registration process (Lane 218). In order to be allowed to register as a voter, a person must be a U.S citizen and must be identified with a particular state (Lane 218).
As mentioned earlier, 16 years is the minimum age for a person who wants to register as voter (Lane 218). The person seeking registration should not have been involved in electoral offences, such as vote selling and vote buying (Lane 218). People with mental disability are not allowed to register as voters but this must be verified by a court of law (Lane 218).
Felony is the most serious crime that locks out many people when it comes to voter registration (Lane 218). Citizens who have once been convicted in court of law and served a court sentence are also not allowed to register as voters (Stacy 112). U.S citizens who live abroad are allowed to register as voters but must go back to their original states during election time.
Military personnel are also allowed to register as voters (Stacy 112). Illegal immigrants who are not recognized as U.S citizens are not allowed in any way to register as voters (Stacy 112). State, federal and out-of state convictions are normally considered when verifying the eligibility of a person who wants to register as a voter (Stacy 112).
The State board of Elections and the local board of elections are the only bodies given the mandate to carry out the voter registration process (Stacy 132). Eligible citizens submit their voter registration applications to these two bodies in person or through the online voter registration system (Stacy 132). The application must be within the voter registration deadline.
If a voter registration application is sent past the registration deadline, the application is held by the two voter registration bodies until the next voter registration period (Stacy 132). There are other approved centers where citizens can complete their voter application in person apart from the local and state boards of elections (Stacy 132).
Some of the approved centers include the Department of Social Services, Marriage License offices, Offices for students with disability, Offices on Aging and finally the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (Stacy 132). Citizens who are accessible to online facilities can apply for registration through their state online voter registration system (Stacy 145).
Online application is allowed for those who are not in a position to register in person (Stacy 145). Citizens must present their identification documents before being allowed to apply for registration as a voter (Stacy 145). A person must have an original ID card or a driving license as identification documents. The two identification requirements are necessary for voter registration applications to be processed (Stacy 145).
Citizens can also register with political parties of their choice for them to vote in primary elections (Stacy 145). Citizens who are not affiliated to any political party are not allowed to vote in primary elections (Stacy 145). It is important for registered voters to update their registration information when they have made some changes to their personal details (Stacy 145).
Those who want to make changes to their registration information must contact the local board of election or their state’s online voter registration system (Stacy 145). It is important for registered voters, who change their residential address and personal names to notify the elections board before the election time for the necessary updates to be made (Stacy 225).
The voter service website contains voter information of all registered voters and reflects new information about a registered voter in a case where some changes were made (Stacy 225). Citizens who have applied for registration as voters must receive a Voter Notification Card within three weeks after application to confirm if they are actually registered as voters (Stacy 225).
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It is also important for an applicant to visit the voter services website to confirm their registration as voters (Stacy 225). Those voters with an intention of changing their party affiliations must do so within the set deadline (Stacy 225). The request to change party affiliation should be made within the deadline. Late application means that the request will be processed after the next general election (Stacy 225).
As mentioned earlier, there are some states in the United States where citizens are allowed to register as voters during the Election Day (Stacy 225). Election Day voter registration is allowed in specified states; eligible citizens must present valid identification documents before being registered on the spot (Fife 76). All citizens must meet the requirements of voter registration even if their states allow registration during the Election Day (Fife 76).
Election Day voter registration began in 2006; it is only allowed in ten states that include Iowa, Marine, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Washington DC (Fife 76). Voting statistics indicates that high voter turn out is normally experienced in states that allow Election Day voter registration than those that do not allow voter registration during the Election Day (Fife 76).
Voter registration is an important civic process that must be taken seriously by all citizens including college students (Fife 76). It is necessary for those who want to apply for registration as voters to understand the voter registration requirements so that their applications are not rejected by the elections board (Fife 79). Information on voter registration should be made available to all citizens especially those in college because most of them are eligible to register as voters in terms of age (Fife 79).
Fife, Brian. Reforming the Electoral Process in America: Toward more Democracy in the 21st Century, New York: ABC-CLIO, 2010. Print.
Lane, Janet. Voter Registration in Focus, New York: Nova Publishers, 2005. Print.
Stacy, Lee. Mexico and the United States, New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2002. Print.