Promoting Democracy Through Education .com

Voting guides in each State - My Time To Vote

About Voting

When you register to vote,your voter registrations are linked to your residential address.When registered voters move, they are supposed to update their registration records with election officials before voting.

Under federal law, if you move within 30 days of a presidential election, you are allowed to vote for President and Vice President in your former state of residence, either in person or by absentee ballot.

Voting is the essence of democracy.Voting in the United States is voluntary. Some people vote in person at the polls, while others vote by mail days or weeks before the actual election date. Regardless of how you do it, it's important that all U.S. citizens who qualify participate in the democratic process of electing public officials.

States Establish Voting Rules

To vote in federal elections you need to be a U.S. citizen and be at least 18 years old, although some states allow 17-year-olds to vote. In fact, the states establish voting rules, including the requirements to register to vote, registration deadlines, and where to send your voting form. You may be able to register at a variety of places, including state and local voter registration offices, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and public assistance agencies. You might also be able to register by mail using the National Mail Voter Registration Form, but not all states accept it. Check with your state election office to learn how to register in your state.

Voter ID Laws Vary by State

Voter identification requirements also vary by state. Therefore, it's important to figure out the documents you might need to show before going to your polling place on Election day. Some states require voters to show proof of identity before voting, such as driver's licenses, passports or military papers. Your state election office can tell you what documents are required in your state.

College Students Voting

As a student, you have a constitutional right to register and vote in the place you truly consider to be home(your parents'house, your dorm room, or your appartment). But before you make the decision about where to vote, make sure you know the rules of registering to vote in that state.

If you wish to vote from your school address, check the voting requirements for the state in which you attend school. If you are interested in casting an absentee ballot in your home state, check the voting requirements for that state. For information about voting and elections in any state, select the state you want to vote from and click "GO".

Election Tips

  1. Register to vote. Most States require citizens to be registered in order to vote. Make sure you understand the voter registration requirements of your State of residence. If you are not registered to vote, you must apply for voter registration no later than the deadline to register in your State. Contact your local or State elections office or check their Web site for information on how to obtain a voter registration application and the deadline to register. The National Voter Registration Application form is also available.
  2. Confirm your registration. Confirm your voter registration status with your State or local elections office before the last day to register to vote. This will allow you to make any changes to your registration (for example: name, address, or other corrections) in sufficient time to vote.
  3. Polling place location & hours. If you vote at a polling place on Election Day, confirm your polling place location and make sure you know what time your polling place opens and closes on Election Day.
  4. Provisional voting. Federal law allows you to cast a provisional ballot if your name does not appear on the voter registration record, if you do not have ID, or if there are questions about your eligibility to vote. Your State may provide other reasons for voting by a provisional ballot. Whether a provisional ballot is counted depends on verification of your eligibility. Make sure you are familiar with the pro- visional voting process in your State.
  5. Voter identification (ID) requirements. Some States may require you to show ID in order to vote. You can find out what your State ID requirements are by contacting your State or local elections office or checking their Web site.
  6. Early voting. Some States allow voters to vote in person before Election Day. Find out if your State has early voting or in-person absentee voting and, if so, when and where you can vote before Election Day.
  7. Absentee voting requirements. Most States allow voters to vote using an absentee ballot under certain circumstances. Check on the dates and requirements for requesting and returning an absentee ballot before Election Day. Absentee ballots are available many weeks before the election but often must be returned before Election Day.

PRIMARY Election

A primary election is an election in which party members or voters select candidates for a subsequent election. Primary elections are one means by which a political party nominates candidates for the next general election. Read more


In some states, voters choose their party's candidate by attending a caucus. A caucus is a meeting between members of a political party where the candidates are discussed and voted on. Each caucus precinct (or local area where the caucus is held) is represented by a certain number of delegates, who are then pledged to support specific candidates based on the voting. Those delegates then represent their local precinct at county and then state conventions. From the state convention, delegates are then selected to represent the state at the national convention. Democrats and Republicans have separate caucuses.

Caucus Vs Primary

The main difference between a caucus and a primary is that a caucus involves face-to-face interaction between voters, where voters can try to persuade one another to vote for (or against) a certain candidate. In a primary, on the other hand, voters simply arrive at the polls, cast their votes in private and go home. As a result of this difference, caucuses tend to have smaller turnouts compared to primaries. Political campaigns must invest more time training local precinct leaders how to effectively persuade their fellow voters.

US election delegates

The delegates to the Democratic and Republican parties' national conventions officially choose the nominees for the presidency. The most populous states - California, Texas and New York - have many times more delegates than the smallest states.

A candidate only needs a simple majority (50% +1) of delegate votes to win the nomination.The goal of all candidates is to win the support of as many delegates as possible, as early as possible in the primary season. Even before a candidate secures the winning number of delegates, he or she may notch up an effectively unassailable lead.

Both parties have a certain number of elected delegates (also known as pledged delegates), whose vote is determined by the result of the primary or caucus in their state, but they also have a certain number of unelected/unpledged delegates (known as super-delegates in the Democratic Party).

These delegates are free to choose which candidate to support. Many of them hold elected office, but they do not owe their place at the convention to a primary election or caucus. Unelected delegates in both parties form a minority within the ranks of delegates at the convention - about 20% in the Democratic case, and between 5% and 20% of Republican delegates (the Republicans do not provide an official breakdown, and different experts give different figures).

They are mostly high-ranking party officials, members of Congress and state governors. In most years, candidates do not have to worry too much about wooing unelected delegates. But if the race gets very close - as it is in 2008 on the Democratic side - they cannot be ignored.

How the Electoral College Works

When U.S. citizens vote for President and Vice President every election year, ballots show the names of the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates, although they are actually electing a slate of "electors" that represent them in each state. The electors from every state combine to form the Electoral College. Each state is allocated a number of electors equal to the number of its U.S. senators (always two) plus the number of its U.S. House representatives

Each political party with a candidate on the ballot designates its own set of electors for each state, matching the number of electors they appoint with the number of electoral votes allotted to the state. This usually occurs at the state party conventions. Electors are typically strong and loyal supporters of their political party, but can never be a U.S. senator or representative. Electors are also generally free agents, as only 29 states require electors to vote as they have pledged, and many constitutional scholars believe those requirements would not stand in a court challenge. (More)

About OPEN Primary

Voters of any affiliation may vote for the candidate of whatever party they choose. Some of these open primary states may not have party registration at all; however open primary states do prohibit voters in X primary from going on to participate in Y's primary or runoff. Yet, this prohibition can be difficult to enforce.

About CLOSE Primary

Only voters registered with a given party can vote in the primary. Parties may have the option to invite unaffiliated voters to participate. Typically, however, independent voters are left out of the process entirely unless they choose to sacrifice their freedom of association for the opportunity to have their say in who represents them. Closed primaries may also exacerbate the radicalization that often occurs at the primary stage, when candidates must cater to the "base," yet the "fringe" of the party are typically more motivated to turn out.

About Semi-Close of Hybrid Primary

Independents may choose which party primary to vote in, but voters registered with a party may only vote in that party's primary. The middle ground between the exclusion of independents in a closed primary and the free-for-all of open primaries, the semi-closed, primary mostly eliminates the concern about members registered to other parties "raiding" another's election.

About Top-Two Primary

In top-two primaries all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, are listed on one ballot. Voters choose their favorite candidate, and the top two vote-getters become the candidates in the general election. The top-two model is not used for presidential primaries in any state.

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When Is The Next Primary Election?

Primary elections and Caucuses are one means by which a political party nominates candidates for the next general election.

Am I eligible To Vote in The United States?

Most States require citizens to be registered in order to vote. Make sure you understand the voter registration requirements of your State of residence. Check if you are eligible to vote

Where Do I Register To Vote in my state?

Locate where you can register to vote and where to update your voter registration before the next election Click here for more information

Can I Register To Vote At The Polls On Election Day?

Do you know if your state if one of the States that allow voters to register at the polls on Election day? Click here for more information

What's on the ballot in 2017

Find all of the offices that are up for election and public questions that will be on your ballot in the next election Click here to see what will be on the statewide and local ballots

Who Are My Elected Officials?

Find contact information for federal, state, and local government officials Click here to locate your elected officials

What Political Parties Are There In My State?

Find contact information of qualified Political Parties in your state Click here to browse