Get Ready to Vote on Election Day

Voter registration can be confusing, but we’ll help you find what you need to know to be ready to vote.
By Ramsey Cox
Oct. 16, 2008
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Election Day nears, make sure you're ready and registered.
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On Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008, voters will cast ballots in the 2008 general election. More so than in recent years, anticipation is on the rise for this election. Registration numbers have increased in nearly every state, and in some states it’s still not too late.

The League of Women Voters helps voters in all states to find registration deadlines, verify registration status, locate polling places, look at issues on the ballot, check voting hours and register to vote (if the deadline hasn’t passed).

Whether this is your first election or you’re a voting veteran, here are answers to some basic questions, along with helpful resources.

How can I register to vote?

Most state government Web sites have a voter registration guide you can go to Vote411 to find the link to your state. Federal law dictates that all states have registration deadlines at least 30 days before the election, which was Oct. 4. Many states have moved the deadline closer to Election Day in order to give citizens more time to register. Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Wyoming allow same-day voter registration. North Dakota is the only state that doesn’t require registration to vote.

I think I’m registered, but I’m not sure. How can I check?

This year it’s more important than ever to check your registration status, which you can do by calling your secretary of state’s office or going to Vote411. It’s easy to do and is the best way to avoid a surprise when you go vote.

According to a New York Times article, tens of thousands of voters have been removed from voter registration rolls in key states such as Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio as a result of mistakes made by state workers trying to comply with the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which overhauled the way elections are run. To comply with the Act, states go through a more rigorous screening process with new voter registration forms, as well as when verifying voters already on the rolls.

Some predict that thousands of voters will show up to vote on Election Day, but not be able to do so because their names were removed from the voter rolls in their precincts.

In this situation, voters cast provisional ballots. But provisional ballots typically aren’t counted if an election isn’t close, as it costs states money to verify if the voter was eligible to vote at that location.

What if I recently moved?

For people who have moved because of displacement from Hurricane Ike, home foreclosures or just moved, you need to reregister at your new address. Most states’ voter registration forms are also used as address change forms. Some states have passed laws requiring identification at polling places. If your state requires id, it will need to match the address you are registered at. Common forms of id are: driver’s licenses, utility bills, paychecks or voter registration cards. You can also find information of both moving registration and id requirements at Vote411.

What if I can’t make it to the polls?

Polling place hours vary by precinct, but most are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Some states have early voting, allowing people to vote weeks before Election Day. Ohioans may vote 35 days early, and Texans can vote 17 days before Election Day, meaning many Americans have already voted.

Another way to vote early is with an absentee ballot. Not all states have absentee ballots, and some that do have restrictions on them. California, Washington and Arizona (among others) don’t have any restrictions on who can apply for an absentee ballot. Oregonians all vote by mail. Ballots are mailed 18 days before the election and voters cast their ballots by mailing or dropping them off with an election administrator before Election Day. Vote411 allows users to apply for absentee ballots in their state and check if their state allows early voting.

How can I learn where the candidates stand on the issues?

The League of Women Voters’ Web site also features brief position statements from three of the presidential candidates: Republican John McCain, Democrat Barack Obama and Independent Ralph Nader. Their positions on education, U.S. global strategy, global climate change, economic disparity and healthcare costs are all included.


Additional resources for the 2008 Presidential Election

League of Women Voters 

Real Clear Politics 

John McCain 

Barack Obama 

New York Times 

CNN 

Fox News 

Washington Post

Time

The Wall Street Journal

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Post a comment below.

 

SR Davis
10/30/2008 10:43:14 AM
I agree that voters should be educated on the issues and the candidates. For those of us who want to protect mother earth and find better, greener, ways to protect her - we have to go through a lot of rhetoric to get to the real answers. I have to say that I have voted third party in the past, but this year the election is so critical that I have to go with one of the two main parties and honestly I have to say I feel better about my choice this year than I have in a long time.

Marie Devine_2
10/24/2008 1:18:03 PM
Pray before voting. You may also write in a candidate that is not on the ballet. There is a big possibility of that happening this year if we want God's humble ways of living close to the earth so we do not pollute ourselves from off the earth or destroy ourselves with great military machinery.

John T. Cotton
10/23/2008 11:30:22 AM
As another commenter noted, it's interesting that in addition to McCain and Obama, Nader was mentioned but not the Constitution Party Candidate Chuck Baldwin (endorsed by Ron Paul) or the Libertarian Candidate, Bob Barr. Certainly the Libertarians have every bit as big a following as Ralph Nader.

Andrew Boulware
10/20/2008 8:31:21 AM
I have noticed that no organization that "promotes" voter education ever mentions the Constitution Party. They are the fastest growing third party in America. They support a strict adherence to the Constitution and inferring what was meant in the more ciphered areas by using supporting documents written by the people themselves, not some Harvard professor who more than likely has some underlying motive for misconstruing their meanings. If you really want to be an informed voter, then look at all options on the table.








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