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Have You Registered To Vote? Here’s What You Need To Know

National Voter Registration Day in September urges citizens to register to vote. Make your vote count!

The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) established the first National Voter Registration Day on September 25, 2012.  In 2014, the NASS established the Fourth Tuesday of September as the official day for National Voter Registration Day.

  • More than 300,000 Americans registered to vote on the inaugural day of the observance in 2012. That number jumped to 800,000 in 2018.
  • More than 5 million voters across all 50 states have registered to vote on National Voter Registration Day, including 1.5 million in 2020 alone.
  • The day helps to ensure eligible voters register in their districts each year. The awareness campaign provides valuable information for each state, too. Timed ideally a few months before some of the bigger elections of the year, the day places information in the hands of the voters at the right time.
  • 1965 – ​President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law allowing people of color to vote without barriers to political involvement.
  • 1972 – African-American legislators made history. ​Barbara Jordan and Andrew Young entered Congress as the first African-Americans elected since Reconstruction.
  • 2006 – ​Congress extended Section 5, a key part of the Voting Rights Act, for 25 more years.
  • 2011 -​South Carolina’s voter ID law, one of the most restrictive in the nation, would prohibit 180,000 African-Americans from voting.
  • 2013 – ​In the decision against Alabama’s NAACP in Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court ruled that certain jurisdictions with a history of voting discrimination did not have to get pre-approval for voting rule changes.
  • Are you already registered? Visit vote.org and fill out this online form to find out if you’re registered.
  • I don’t have a driver’s license. Can I still register to vote?
    • A. Yes!  You can use one of the following:
      • Register with your state-issued non-driver ID.
      • If you don’t have either a driver’s license or non-driver ID, some states allow registration using the last four digits.
      • Other states require the entire social security number for registration.
  • Odds and ends:
    • North Dakota is the only state that does not require voter registration.
    • ​Ohio’s constitution bans “idiots” from voting according to Article V, Section 6 of the state constitution.
    • ​During his first legislative run, George Washington spent his campaign budget of 50 pounds on a round of election-day drinks for his constituents.
    • ​As part of the Texas voter ID process, you can’t vote with a student ID but if you show a gun license, you’re good to go.
    • ​Utah women voters were granted the right in 1870 — but it was revoked by Congress in 1887 — and re-instituted by the state in 1895.
    • ​Poll taxes, started in the 1890s, legally kept southern African-Americans from voting by making them pay for the right.
  • Can you register to vote online?
    • Most states offer online voter registration. Rock the Vote’s online registration platform will guide you through the process for your state. Depending on your state’s policies, the platform will let you know if you can complete your registration entirely online or it will ask for information and email you a prefilled PDF of the national voter registration form to print, sign and mail to your local election official.
    • You may also request to have the prefilled form mailed to you if you do not have access to a printer.
  • What is a voter card? After you register to vote, most states send out a “voter card” to let you know your registration has gone through. The voter card is not necessary to vote, but it helps you to confirm you’re registered to vote and that your information is correct. Most also contain information about where you will go to vote on Election Day.
  • To learn more about the election process and who is running for office check out Rock the Vote’s Election Center.
  • Myths vs. Facts: 
    • Voting by mail and using drop boxes are safe and trustworthy ways to vote thanks to numerous security features that protect against fraud. 
      • We’ve seen numerous social media posts falsely claiming that drop boxes, voting by mail, or absentee voting are vehicles for mass voter fraud. The reality is that mail ballots have been successfully used in the United States for over 150 years, and in that time, states have developed multiple layers of security to protect against malfeasance.
    • Multiple layers of security ensure that voting machines accurately record votes.
      • Some candidates have been using the news that a Dominion voter assist system used to print ballots ended up for sale — first at Goodwill, then later on eBay — as a reason to cast doubt on vote totals from voting machines. This is wrong on a number of levels.
    • Many safeguards exist to ensure voters cast ballots only once and to thwart someone from voting under a dead person’s name.
      • The Midterm Monitor shows several Facebook and Instagram posts by secretary of state candidates promoting the idea that “dead people voted” in 2020 or that dead people were being intentionally left on voter rolls to rig the upcoming election.
      • All states regularly update their voter rolls to remove dead people and voters who have moved out of state. States are required to coordinate with government agencies that track deaths, and they often work with the U.S. Postal Service’s National Change of Address Program and other states to ensure their records are up to date.
    • Noncitizens voting is practically nonexistent.
      • Several studies and state-led investigations have shown that noncitizen voting in federal and statewide elections virtually never happens — and that’s no surprise. It’s illegal, and if a noncitizen intentionally registers or votes in one of those elections, they will face fines, prison, and deportation — all effective deterrents.
    • Machine counting large numbers of ballots with multiple contests is more accurate and reliable than hand counting. 
      • Some election deniers are pushing the idea that ballots in the midterms should be counted by hand, wrongly claiming it would provide more security. American election officials have moved away from hand counting in all but the smallest jurisdictions. Several studies have shown that when counting a large number of ballots with multiple contests, hand counting is more expensive, inefficient, and error-prone than machine counting.
    • Election officials are obligated to certify accurate election results, even if the officials don’t like them. 
      • Using the midterm monitor, we can see that there are calls online for election officials to refuse to certify results they don’t trust, something they are not legally permitted to do.
    • The Election Registration Information Center (ERIC) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization used by more than 30 states to improve the accuracy of voter rolls.
      • ERIC has been cited with suspicion by election deniers who believe it’s part of a plot to tip the scales in favor of Democrats. This is patently false.
  • Where do I vote early? Check out Rock the Vote’s early voting lookup tool for information on whether or not your state has early in-person voting options, and where you can vote early if it does.


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