Why do I have to register to vote?

In the US, unlike many countries, registering is a mandatory and necessary process to vote.

The process, far from being a fast and direct transaction, is complex and the requirements for registering change depending on the State in which you reside. Factors such as a change of residence, surname (due to a divorce or marriage) may be enough for a citizen to register again with updated information. The result of this registration system, classified as “imprecise, expensive and inefficient” by a study by the Pew analysis center, is that 24% of the population of voting age (51 million people) continues to be unregistered and therefore, it cannot participate in the elections.

Why is the voting registration system important?

One of the forms used to register in any state includes a section in which the citizen must write down if he identifies himself as a Republican, Democrat or Independent. The country’s two major political parties, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, therefore use the registration system to make calculations based on the percentage of the country that aligns with the ideology they propose.

In the so-called key states, such as Ohio, Pennsylvania or Florida, voters usually alternate who they vote for, that is, they are independent, while in states such as California or Texas, there is a clear Democratic and Republican majority, respectively, so it is not Candidates need to spend as much money or time in those areas of the country to convince new voters.

The importance of the system is such that, due to Hurricane Matthew just a few weeks ago, the States of Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, extended the period for citizens to register since thousands of people had to evacuate their houses due to the storm.

But registration can also be used indirectly to limit the voting power of thousands of people. In 2011, so-called “vote suppression laws,” pushed by several Republican governors in 16 states including Florida or South Carolina, demanded that voters need to provide more documents to register. As numerous studies show, these types of measures typically affect poor and racially minority voters, who are often Democrats, which can affect the outcome of an election.

In recent years, different states have established another requirement to register to vote: photo identification cards, practically nonexistent in the United States, except for the driver’s license and the passport. These types of measures, which are still in the hands of the courts today, continue to limit demographic groups such as African Americans or Hispanics, who traditionally vote for the Democratic Party.

What is early voting and why does it matter?

Early voting in person allows citizens to vote early, which makes it easier for individuals and ensures greater diversity among voters as limitations such as lack of time that can affect certain electoral groups more than others disappear. In total, 34 States allow early voting without the need for an excuse to do so. Six other states allow this practice if there is a justification. 7 States do not offer early voting. There are 3 States in which all the votes are by mail.

Early voting can serve to predict the final results of the presidential election. An experiment by The New York Times uses North Carolina, a key state in this campaign for equality between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, predicting that based on the votes that have already been counted, Clinton, who is now He wins by 22%, he will win with a margin of six percentage points, given the demographic distribution of the State’s population and the voting history that its citizens have had in past elections.

Throughout the last elections, the popularity of early voting has grown and more than 40% of voters this year are expected to do so early. Consequently, presidential campaigns and the electoral system have placed greater emphasis on this practice since it facilitates a greater number of citizens to vote and allows candidates to calculate what results they can obtain in the different States.

See below the registration deadline and the possibility of voting in advance, according to the States:

Until October 8

Mississippi – Accept early vote

Until October 9

Alaska – Accept early vote

Rhode Island – Does not accept early vote


Arizona and Hawaii – Accept early vote

Until October 11

Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and the District of Columbia – Accept early vote

Until October 12

Missouri – Accept early vote

Until October 14

Idaho, New York, North Carolina and Oklahoma – Accept early vote

Until October 15

Delaware – Does not accept early voting

Until October 18

Florida, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey and West Virginia – Accept early vote

Oregon – Vote By Mail Only

Until 19th October

Massachusetts – Accept early vote

Until October 21

Virginia – Accept early vote

Until October 24

Alabama – Does not accept early vote

California, Wyoming and South Dakota – Accept early vote

Until October 28

Nebraska – Accept early vote

Until October 29

Iowa – Accept early vote

Until October 31

Washington – Vote by Mail Only

Until November 1st

Connecticut – Does not accept early voting

Utah – Accept early vote

Until November 2

Vermont – Accept early vote

Until November 4

Wisconsin – Accept early vote

Until November 8

Colorado – Vote By Mail Only

Maine – Accept early vote

New Hampshire – Does not accept early voting

States that do not require citizens to register to vote

North Dakota