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You Don't Need a Home to Vote!
2010 Voter Rights/Registration Packet

Frequently Asked Questions by Individuals

Am I eligible to register and to vote?

Yes, if you are:

•       A citizen of the United States
•       A legal resident of your state
•       At least 18 years old by Election Day
• Not in prison, not on probation, not on parole, and have not committed a felony (varies from state to state; check with your county elections office)
• Not declared mentally incompetent by a court (varies with states, check with your county elections office)

Do I have to be 18 years old to register?

No.  As long as you will be 18 on the day of the upcoming election then you may register to vote.

Must I read or write English in order to register or vote?

No. You may register and vote even if you cannot read or write. You may take to the voting booth a literate and registered individual who can assist you in the voting process, but not actually vote for you.

How can I register?

Although some states allow you to register online, most require that a voter registration form be filled out and mailed to the local county election office.  You may also register to vote at your local elections office.

Where can I find the registration form?

Voter registration forms are available at post offices, libraries, fire stations, Departments of Motor Vehicles, welfare departments, county elections offices. In addition, voter registration forms are available online and at many social service agencies.

When can I register?

You may register anytime, but do it by your state’s deadline if you want to vote in the upcoming election.  Deadlines vary from state to state though most states’ deadlines are no earlier than a month before the upcoming election.

Does it cost anything to register?

No. Registration is free.

Am I registered once I fill out and mail the registration form?

No. You cannot be sure you are registered until you get a voter notification card from the county. If the notification card does not arrive within three weeks of mailing your registration, call your county elections office and ask if you are registered.

Do I ever have to re-register?

Yes. If you move, change your name, want to change your political party, or have completed all conditions of a felony charge, you must register again. Please check with your city/county elections office as the rules governing re-registration vary from state to state.  To re-register, fill out a new registration form with the correct information and send it to the local elections office.

What if I move right before the election?

You may vote by returningto your former precinct or by requesting an absentee ballot.

Will I remain a registered voter even if I fail to vote?

Yes.  However, if you move, the state may send you a voter eligibility verification notice by mail to confirm your current eligibility.  If you fail to respond to that notice the state may remove you from the voter list.  Furthermore, failure to vote in several elections means you will be dropped from the voter list and need to re-register. Check with your local county elections office for information on the exact terms.

Can I register for someone else?

No. You can only register for yourself. However, you may help others fill out a form, but they must sign the form.

Do I have to choose a political party in order to register and to vote?

No. You may check the “decline to state” or independent box on the form if you do not wish to belong to a political party.

What is a political party?

A political party is a group of individuals who try to determine public policy by organizing to win elections and operate government.

How do I join a political party?

It is as simple as checking the box for the political party of your choice on the registration form. There are no requirements to join a political party.

If I declare a party of preference when I register, can I change later?

Yes, you just have to re-register.

Am I required to work for the party or contribute money to it?


What is a Sample Ballot?

In some states, before each election, each registered voter receives a packet of information including a sample ballot, which is a replica of the ballot the voter will see at the polls. The packet also gives the time and date of the election, the location of your polling place, and an application to vote-by-mail.

What if I do not receive a Sample Ballot?

If it does not arrive two weeks before the election, call and request one from the county elections office.

Where will I vote?

Your polling place will be in your neighborhood.  If you receive a sample ballot, the exact address will be shown on the back. Otherwise, the address will be on your registration card.  Both should show whether the polling location is accessible to people with disabilities.  Polling places may change from one election to another. It is important to go to the correct polling place because your name will not be on the roster of voters anywhere else.

What if my polling place is not accessible to the people with disabilities?

The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act requires polling places to be accessible to persons with disabilities whenever possible for federal elections. Where no accessible locations are available as polling places, states must provide other means for persons with disabilities to vote. In most states, you may vote by absentee ballot, and many states provide voting aids such as telecommunications devides for the deaf (TDD’s). Check with your county elections office to learn what you should do.  If you prefer to vote in person, find out if curbside voting is available. If it is, get as close to your polling place as you can and a precinct board member will bring you a ballot for you to cast.

When are the polls open?

The hours that polling places are open on Election Day varies by state.  However, usual hours are from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.

Can I vote by mail?

Contact your county elections office for information on obtaining an absentee ballot and about deadlines.

Do I need identification documents when I go to vote or register?

When registering by mail, a driver’s license number or the last four digits of your social security number will be needed.  If you are unable to supply either, you will be given a voter ID number and will be required to show some sort of ID when you go to vote on Election Day (the form of ID varies from state to state).  Many states have further identification requirements so it is important to check with your local elections offices.

What if I need help in marking my ballot?

Ask elections officials at the polling place.

How long may I stay in the polling booth?

Take your time. Some states limit voting to ten minutes, but will extend that time if no other voters are waiting. You may take your pre-marked sample ballot into the polling place with you.

What if I make a mistake on my ballot?

You may request another one.

Can someone help me when I go to vote?

Yes, you may bring a friend, a relative, a teacher, a parent or anyone else. This person can help you read the ballot or use the voting booth to vote.

What will I be voting on?           

You will either be voting on propositions, which are ballot measures that change local or state laws, or on candidates running for elective office.  You do not have to vote on everything; you can just vote on the things you care about.

How do I vote?

  • Sign your name on a list of all the voters in your area.
  • A ballot will be given to you and you will then enter the voting booth.
  • You will put the ballot in the voting machine and mark your choices.
  • Officials at the polling place will provide directions on voting procedures.


Download full report as pdf | Acknowledgements | Introduction | Overcoming Agency Resistance | Frequently Asked Questions by Organizations about Conducting Voter Registration | Incorporating Voter Registration into the Intake Process | Conducting a Successful Voter Registration Drive | Overcoming Resistance by Individuals | Frequently Asked Questions by Individuals | Conducting a Voter Registration Party | Registering Tenants to Vote | Having Candidates Volunteer at Your Agency | Holding a Candidate Forum on Housing and Homelessness | Media Tips for Hosting Events | Letter Writing Power Hour | Leading Up to Election Day | On Election Day | Voting & Registration Information Flyer | Legal Issues and Practical Barriers to Voting for Homeless People | State-by-State Chart of Homeless People’s Voting Rights | State-by-State Chart of Disenfranchisement Categories | State-by-State Chart of ID Requirements | State-by-State Chart of Registration Deadlines & Residency Requirements | Court Decisions on Homeless People’s Voting Rights | Sample Phone Script | Sample Invitation Letter | Sample Media Advisory | Sample Press Release

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