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Register to vote: Everything you need to know on National Voter Registration Day 2018

The Independent logo The Independent 25/09/2018 Emily Shugerman, Chris Riotta
© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

With contentious midterm elections just around the corner, the 2018 National Voter Registration Day could prove to be one of the event’s most widely-participated years in its history.

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The national holiday has been observed ever since 2012, arriving each year on the fourth Tuesday in September. This year, hundreds of voter registration events are expected to take place across the country, as numerous studies have predicted a surge in voter turnout in November.

Pew Research found that voter turnout had surged In the 31 states that have already held Congressional primary elections in 2018, and nearly half of registered voters have expressed being more enthusiastic than usual about flocking to the polls — nearly a ten per cent jump from the year prior.

Still, millions of Americans remain unregistered to vote, while others who show up to the polls on Election Day each year find that their names have been purged from voter rolls. Since state laws vary surrounding their own elections, it can be confusing at times to navigate the process: here’s everything you need to know in order to vote in the 2018 midterm elections.

When are the midterm elections?

The 2018 midterm elections will be held nationwide on 6 November.

Primary elections have already taken place in many states across the country, with voters choosing from a variety of candidates to secure the Democratic and Republican nominations for Congress and other elected offices. They are now completed.

Stacey Abrams victory speech in Georgia primaries

The midterms determine anything and everything from which lawmakers will shape the national agenda for both parties, to local ordinances that may not make viral headlines, but stand to greatly impact the residents of any given state.

How do I register to vote?

Most states allow voters to register in one of three ways: In person, by mail, or online. Laws vary by state, however, so it’s best to check with your state or local election offices.

There are numerous ways to check online and determine whether you are registered to vote, however, with one of those options being Vote Save America, a digital database allowing users to verify their state registration records.

The site, hosted by Crooked Media, which features some of the most popular political podcasts in the country, allows voters across the country to confirm whether or not they are registered by scanning national records. If someone is not yet registered, they are redirected to their local application process, which usually takes ten minutes and requires a government-issued form of identification.

Registering in person usually means going in to those election offices, though the local department of motor vehicles, military recruitment centres, and public assistance offices occasionally allow voters to register there.

Those who want to vote by mail can download and fill out the National Mail Voter Registration Form. The form should be signed by hand before being mailed to the appropriate office for your state. Voters in 37 states and the District of Columbia can fill out a similar form online.

When is the deadline to register?

US laws are all over the board when it comes to how late you can wait to register, according to the nonprofit Vote.org.

A large number of states, including Colorado, Idaho, and Maine, allow voters to register in person on the day of the election. A similarly large chunk make voters register 30 days ahead of time – Michigan, South Carolina, and Texas among them.

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The rest of the states fall somewhere in between. In Delaware, voters have until the fourth Saturday before a primary or general election to register. In Georgia, they have until the fifth Monday before Election Day. Voters in Nebraska have the very strict cut-off of 6:00 pm the second Friday before Election Day.

Because laws vary so drastically across the country surrounding registration deadlines, it’s best to use the annual national holiday to confirm your state rules and ensure that you are fully registered to vote come November.

Where do I vote?

After verifying your voter registration, the next step is to confirm where local polling sites will be on Election Day.

Numerous online polling place locators allow users to find where they can vote, including this tool by Vote.org. By entering the address associated with your voter registration information, the locator will confirm the exact destination you’re required to vote at, rather than showing a handful of local polling sites.

Equipped with that knowledge, you will be on your way to casting a ballot in the 2018 midterm elections — where every vote counts.

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited
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