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14 Legal Reminders for the 2014 Elections

By Brett Snider, Esq. on October 01, 2014 9:44 AM

Civic-minded Americans may already know that we're about a month away from Election Day. You might be someone who always schedules out your trip to your polling place, or you might even be someone who's planning on voting for the first time.

Regardless of your experience, FindLaw can help you enhance your participation in our democracy, with helpful articles in our Blogs and in our Learn About the Law section.

To wit, here are 14 legal reminders for the 2014 elections:

  1. Voter registrations are based on your address information, so you may be turned away if yours isn't up to date.
  2. You should still vote if you're away at college. You're probably eligible (though you may need to vote absentee).
  3. Worried that you can't vote because you committed a felony? You may be worried for nothing.
  4. Legal permanent residents (i.e., green card holders) are allowed to vote in local (but not federal) elections.
  5. You might get time off from work to vote -- it just depends on your state.
  6. Setting up a polling place inside your garage? Make sure that the location you choose is up to code.
  7. There are various crimes associated with voting, so make sure you're not committing one.
  8. Find out if your state allows early voting so that you don't have to fret about it.
  9. State voter ID laws may be constitutionally questionable, but there are also federal voter ID laws.
  10. Gerrymandering may still be constitutional despite its effect on minority voters.
  11. Fun fact: Almost 50 years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.
  12. Not-so-fun fact: Prior to the Civil War, enslaved African Americans couldn't vote and were only counted as three-fifths of a person for purposes of political apportionment. After the Civil War, the Fifteenth Amendment barred the denial of the right to vote based on race or prior status as a slave.
  13. More election trivia: Women didn't get the constitutional right to vote until 1920 with the Nineteenth Amendment; the right was expanded to all U.S. citizens 18 and over by the Twenty-Sixth Amendment.
  14. And finally, forget how we "directly" elect the president? Brush up on the electoral college before the 2016 presidential campaigns get underway.

Don't miss out on your chance to impact the way policy is shaped in our country; keep these reminders handy and vote this Election Day, November 4, 2014!

Editor's Note, October 20, 2014: This post has been updated to correct and clarify the pre-Civil War status of enslaved African Americans.

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