Voting Requirements

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 17,019
    Voting expert Adam Fogel describes what is required to vote in an election.

    Adam Fogel

    Adam Fogel is the Right to Vote Director at FairVote-The Center for Voting and Democracy. He is developing a voting curriculum for high schools to encourage students to get involved in the political process and register to vote. Before joining FairVote, Adam served as the Pennsylvania Field Director for a voter registration project funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts that registered over 500,000 new, young voters. He recruited and trained over 100 student leaders on more than 15 community college campuses throughout Pennsylvania before the 2006 mid-term elections. Simultaneously, he gathered data to create a voter registration model that can be used at any of the more than 1,100 U.S. community colleges nationwide, which enroll 11 million students—46 percent of all undergraduates. Adam was a fellow at the Center for Political Participation at Allegheny College for two years, where he designed an educational outreach program in high schools called “Why Bother? The Importance of Voting in America.” In 2005, The Institute of Politics at Harvard University adapted “Why Bother?” into a national program. A Cleveland, Ohio native, Adam earned a B.A. in Political Science and English from Allegheny College in May, 2006. He is currently enrolled in a master’s degree program at the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University. He resides in Washington, D.C.

    Adam Fogel: Hi, I am Adam Fogel, the Right to Vote Director at FairVote, a national non-partisan, non-profit organization based in Washington DC. Today I am talking about how to register and vote in US elections.

    Now I will be talking about requirements to register to vote for an election.

    For all federal elections those elections for your member of congress, your two US senators and president, you must be 18 years old on or before Election Day and a citizen of the United States. You must have to be a resident of the state in which you wish to vote. Many states have different residency requirements. So you have to make sure to contact your local Board of Elections or Secretary of States office to find out what their residency requirements are for voting.

    To actually register to vote, most states allow 17 year old, which will be 18 by the next election to vote. In other states, 17 year olds are allowed to advanced register to vote and even vote in the primary election, if they will be 18 years old by the general election. A few states allow you to register to vote on your 16th birthday and then you will automatically be added to the voting rolls upon reaching voting age. The best thing to do is check with your Secretary of States office to find out when you are eligible to register to vote. You can find the contact information for your Secretary of States office at . Most states allow people with felony convictions to vote while they are on parole or probation or after they have completed their sentence. In two states Maine and Vermont people who are incarcerated are eligible to vote. You should check with your parole officer or local board of elections to find out how to restore your voting rights if you have been convicted of a felony. To find out more information on Felony Disenfranchisement, visit the sentencing project at Finally, some states don't allow people with certain mental disabilities from registering to vote. If you are under the care of a legal guardian, you may be ineligible. It's always best to check with your secretary of state's office or your local board of elections to find out if you are eligible to register to vote. Those are the requirements for registering to vote.

    Next, we will actually go through a demonstration of how to fill out a voter registration application.