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Voting process and system in the US explained


Voting per se is not a right defined in the U.S. constitution but is of built around the concepts of rights of “person”. Eligibility to vote in the U.S. is relevant at both the federal and state levels.

Currently, only American citizens can vote in federal elections. Each state has the discretion to provide qualifications for one to have voting rights in the various states. For example some states will accept non-citizens living in those states to participate not particularly in voting but also in the campaign for leaders they deem fit.

An amendment to the constitution (Voting Rights Act of 1965) was ratified specifically to extend voting rights to different groups of citizens. These extensions state that no one is denied the right to vote based on birth, race, sex, tax default etc. states may however deny the right to vote based on other reasons e.g. expiry of voter registration period, convicted felons et cetera.

One can vote if they satisfy the following criteria:

  1. Be a United States citizen.
  2. Be a resident of the concerned state.
  3. Should be 18 years or older on Election Day.
  4. Not found by a court to be mentally incompetent.
  5. Not in prison, parole or in county jail.

To register to vote, one must complete a brief voter registration application on paper or online. This can be done through the Secretary of state’s website, or you can pick up an application at your county elections office, any department of motor vehicles office and many post offices, public libraries and government offices.

Information sent online must be verified by your county elections official before you can be authorized to vote. Once registered, you do not need to re-register even if you did not vote in the last elections.  Your registration can however be cancelled if you have not voted in several consecutive general elections.


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