With the conclusion of the final presidential debate, the 2012 election is now a mere two weeks away. Not only the election of our commander-in-chief, but state and local races are also shaping up to be one of the most anticipated election seasons in U.S. history. As November 6 gets closer, one important thing that many Americans should be thinking about as they contemplate their ballot choices is whether they have taken the necessary steps to ensure that they are able to vote.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 33 states have considered new controversial laws involving photo identification for voting. Other considerations include issues surrounding absentee ballots and where college students attending school out of state should cast their ballot.
Here are some basic tips that should get you election ready:
- Register for the federal, state and local elections: If this is your first time voting, then you need to register. You can visit rockthevote.com or check in with a county, state or federal office near you. States vary to be sure to check on requirements and deadlines as soon as possible.
- College students: as a student attending college in another city or state, you have the right to choose where you want to vote but things can get confusing when you are trying to vote in your hometown’s local election or in your college county.
- Overcome language barriers: When you vote, you should understand the issues that are presented to you. The United States Election Assistance Commission offers a voter’s guide to federal elections in 10 different languages.
- Voting early and absentee: In many situations, you do not have to wait until Election Day or be in your home state to cast your ballot.
- Other issues: States vary on if and when individuals with a felony conviction can vote. The easiest way to find out is to inquire. Additionally, many Americans are under the mistaken belief that he or she does not have the right to vote because they receive some type of public assistance. That simply is not true and if you meet eligibility requirements then let your voice be heard on Nov. 6!
Did you know that 33 of 100 U.S. Senate seats and 435 U.S Congressional seats and governships in 13 state and territories are up for grabs this election? With those numbers and the presidential election, it is easy to see what knowing your voting rights and changes to requirements are essential.
If you are curious about voting rights and the legal issues surrounding photo identification requirements and other election matters, make sure you visit FindLaw.com to learn more.
— Michelle Croteau, Director of Marketing Communications
with Laura Strachan, FindLaw Audience Team