Student holding a “my vote counts” sticker. (Emma Allen)
Student holding a “my vote counts” sticker.

Emma Allen

How to Register to Vote

October 22, 2020

When they were constituting our government, our founding fathers created a unique system of voting that allowed the citizens of the United States to provide their input on who would govern our country. They devised an electoral college for the election of the president, and, in addition, the vice president. Presidents serve a four-year term, which means that a presidential election generally occurs every four years. Since the creation of the Constitution, voting rights have expanded to women and African Americans. The minimum voting age was also lowered to 18, allowing some high schoolers the right to vote. The founding fathers, when forming our government, created a democracy, which literally translates to “rule by the people.” Even though it is a representative democracy, voting still matters and is an important principle that enables our government to have a smooth transition of power when necessary. 

Voting for the first time can be daunting as you cannot simply march up to the polls and declare your vote. You must first register. The registration process is not as hard as you might think. As long as you meet the few requirements and have the necessary documents, you can easily register. But, which documents are necessary, and what are the requirements that you must meet to be able to register? 

Over the years, the requirements for voting have become less strict, as it is important that the majority of citizens in the United States have a say in the election. The voting age was lowered from twenty-one to eighteen with the Twenty-sixth Amendment, which means that seventeen-year-olds can register to vote as long as they will be eighteen by the next election. Some of the other requirements that have to be fulfilled before you can vote include: being a citizen of the United States, having lived in the precinct where you vote at least thirty days before the next election, and not currently serving a sentence after being convicted of a crime. These requirements hold for any election, be it general, municipal, or special. 

In addition to intangible requirements, there are also material prerequisites, such as documents. The documents required to register in the state of Indiana include a valid Indiana driver’s license or Indiana state identification, as well as proof of residence by providing a copy of current and valid photo identification, a current utility bill, a bank statement, a government check, a paycheck, or a government document providing name and address. All forms must be completed in black or blue ink to be valid. 

If you meet all the requirements and have all the necessary documents on hand, then you can register to vote either in-person or from afar. The post office, the BMV, and county election office are all places where you can register to vote in person. However, due to the global pandemic, you may not wish to register to vote in person. Luckily, there are a few alternatives. You can register online using the Indiana Voters website as long as you have an Indiana driver’s license, ID card, or learner’s permit. If you do not have these identification documents, you can register to vote using the Indiana voter registration form, which, upon completion, can be mailed or hand-delivered to your local election office. If you send in your voter registration by mail, note that voter registration closes twenty-nine days before the election. This year, that deadline for in-person, mail, and online registration is Monday, October 5th.

Voting is a very important privilege that should be taken seriously and not for granted. As long as you meet the requirements, you could have your say in electing the next leader of the United States. If you can vote, you should, because it is a way that you can influence your country. Your vote may be small, but it could make all the difference. Voting is a super easy process, just as long as you remember to register! It is your civic duty.

 

 

 

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