Voter registration, defined – CNNPolitics


The system is completely different in each state. Some states provide on-line voter registration, however others don’t. And deadlines are completely different in all places.

About two-thirds of states require eligible voters to register earlier than Election Day. These deadlines fall within the first few weeks of October:

October 5: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas. October 7: Missouri. October 9: Oklahoma, New York. October 10: Delaware. October 13: Kansas, Louisiana, New Jersey, Oregon, Virginia, West Virginia. October 16: Nebraska. October 19: Alabama, Pennsylvania, South Dakota. October 24: Massachusetts.

Within the remaining states, eligible voters are in a position register on Election Day — though in most, voters are required to go to a polling location in particular person, which might current a problem this yr as a result of Covid-19 pandemic.

You need to re-register should you transfer. Use CNN’s voter information to test your voter registration standing, change your current registration, or learn the way to register to vote in your state.

CNN spoke with Lauren Kunis, program director for Nationwide Voter Registration Day, about voter registration in 2020 and the historical past of voter registration within the US. The dialog, carried out over the cellphone and flippantly edited for stream, is beneath.

CNN: Why do now we have voter registration within the US?

LK: Voter registration is there to guarantee that voter rolls are correct and up to date. Elections in america are decentralized. They’re administered on the county stage. So voter registration is an everyday and ongoing course of to guarantee that our elections are as inclusive, correct and credible as attainable.

CNN: How can an eligible voter register to vote?

LK: As a result of elections are so decentralized, it relies on your state. Within the majority of states, you may get register to vote on-line. It takes two minutes or much less. It’s totally simple. You possibly can go to or you possibly can go to our web site to get the method began.

When you’re in one of many states that does not have on-line registration, or if you do not have a state issued ID, you possibly can full the method utilizing a paper kind and you too can get that course of began, by logging on.

The necessary factor to know is that voter registration is straightforward, it is easy, it takes little or no time, and it is actually the essential step in getting your voice heard.

CNN: How outdated does a citizen must be to register to vote?

LK: It’s a must to be 18 to forged a poll on Election Day, however in lots of states, you possibly can truly pre-register to vote beginning on the age of 16 or 17 relying in your state, in order that whenever you flip 18, you are routinely added to the voter roll.

CNN: You talked about that in some states, voters can not register on-line and are required to print and ship in a registration kind. What occurs if an eligible voter does not have entry to a printer?

LK: That is a problem. And this yr with Covid, with many individuals working from house or not on campus, they don’t seem to be at locations the place they may have already got entry to a printer, it is a explicit problem. However a number of organizations, together with ours, are making a concerted effort to step in and fill that hole.

For instance, you possibly can go to our web site and you’ll begin the method on-line. So you possibly can fill out all your data, click on submit, and inside a number of days, we are going to ship you a pre-printed, pre-filled voter registration kind, together with the stamps and addressed envelope. You then simply must signal it, fold it up, put it again within the mail, and that may get you registered forward of state deadline.

So whereas it is positively a problem, it isn’t an insurmountable one.

CNN: Why are states’ voter registration deadlines completely different?

LK: The completely different deadlines are an artifact of a decentralized electoral system and completely different states take completely different quantities of time to course of voter registration to confirm voter rolls.

CNN: What’s the advantage of a decentralized electoral system?

LK: That is consistent with the general decentralized system in america and the concept that native possession and management of public insurance policies, together with elections, is one thing that states are greatest positioned to resolve and determine what works for them of their state.

CNN: Received it, so who’s accountable for every state’s voter registration guidelines and rules?

LK: It is achieved on the county stage and the native election workplace is the one that’s the kind of main collector of voter registration information. After which in most states, the secretary of state oversees electoral processes. In others, it is the state election director who oversees electoral processes and the secretary of state may have a verification function.

CNN: And so do you encourage anybody who could also be involved in studying extra about their particular state’s insurance policies to go to their native election workplace for that data?

LK: Completely. I can not stress this sufficient, the No. 1 trusted, dependable, up-to-date supply of details about how elections work in your locality is your native election workplace. You possibly can look them up on-line, contact them by way of cellphone, by way of e-mail or in particular person.

It is one thing that I see as an actual problem in an electoral atmosphere like this one the place in lots of states issues are shifting quickly due to Covid. As a result of now we have such a decentralized system, lots of people will see on social media, for instance, that their cousin in a unique state posted that the registration deadline is right this moment. And so they suppose that may apply to them. However it’s very probably not the case as a result of insurance policies and deadlines and procedures are completely different relying on the place you reside.

There actually is not any one-size-fits-all resolution, and the way in which to get trusted, dependable, correct data and solutions to your very particular and individualized questions on voting is your native election workplace.

CNN: You have touched on it, however what’s completely different about registering to vote in the course of the pandemic?

LK: It’s totally completely different, and one thing I have been saying lots, is there’s a new regular and we’re all figuring this out as we go alongside, and that applies to essentially all components of life but additionally to voter registration.

There was plenty of discuss what’s important and what’s not during the last six months. We’re of a agency place that voting is important, and voter registration by extension, is a vital service. It may look completely different this yr as a result of it has to, nevertheless it must go on and in reality it’s extra necessary than ever earlier than. And that is as a result of the primary manner that People usually get registered to vote is on the DMV and that is adopted by in-person strategies, conventional voter registration arrange at live shows, at farmer’s markets, wherever the place there is a excessive quantity of foot visitors.

So given the truth that DMVs are closed, or have restricted hours or persons are hesitant to enter them, and given the truth that many campuses are closed and excessive foot visitors is one thing we try to keep away from, the scenario is much more difficult this yr. That is actually backed up by information.

A number of the early information from April confirmed that for a sampling, the voter registrations had been down by about 70% relative to April 2016. However the excellent news is, there is a report by the Heart for Election Data and Analysis that exhibits the month by month voter registration ranges. It exhibits an enormous drop in March and April, nevertheless it began creeping again up in June and July as individuals pivoted and began to know how to do that work successfully both in a secure in-person manner or utilizing digital and on-line strategies. That being mentioned, there’s nonetheless a reasonably important backlog by way of new voter registrations that might have been collected earlier.

If we need to be seeing record-setting turnout this fall, we should be seeing record-setting voter registrations proper now. And we actually cannot let the drop in voter registrations as a result of pandemic be a barrier to excessive ranges of voter turnout.

CNN: You talked about {that a} excessive variety of People often get registered to vote on the DMV. Are you able to clarify the Nationwide Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and the Motor Voter provision?

LK: The NVRA tried to make it simpler for voters to get registered. One situation of it’s that you’re routinely provided the chance to register to vote whenever you go right into a DMV to get a brand new license or to replace your state ID.

CNN: The Motor Voter provision might assist with registering voters, however is it discriminatory for individuals who haven’t got a license or by no means go to the DMV?

LK: I would not say that it is discriminatory by nature. However you will need to acknowledge that there are individuals who haven’t got state issued driver’s licenses and won’t search one out. We won’t assume that everybody will get registered on the DMV. That is why there are plenty of teams who’ve stepped as much as attempt to fill within the hole with focused voter registration drives at websites and with populations that is perhaps much less more likely to search out a driver’s license or a state issued ID.

CNN: What are a few of the digital ways in which you are focusing on individuals this yr, since you possibly can’t canvas in particular person?

LK: In-person work is occurring. However it’s taking place with Covid-conscious diversifications. A variety of our companions are establishing a desk, however they’re implementing cleansing and hand washing and social distancing. They’re making an effort to recruit youthful volunteers and ensuring that there are touchless choices, QR codes can be found at voter registration drives. And plenty of nonprofits and public businesses are incorporating voter registration into service supply, trying on the contact factors they have already got with the neighborhood and ensuring that voter registration is part of that.

Meals banks are placing voter registration information into the parcels they distribute, hospitals and clinics are placing voter registration kinds into the discharge paperwork, providing texts to motion choices in ready rooms, faculty provide distribution has concerned voter registration and much more like that. Individuals are additionally doing drive by way of voter registration and establishing in a parking zone. We’re additionally seeing plenty of socially distant modes for outreach like cellphone calls and textual content message campaigns which are Covid-safe.


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