News / USA

How We Vote: Registration as Party Strategy

The process of choosing national and local officials in the United States begins with registering potential voters to participate in elections.

Every American citizen 18 and older, with few exceptions, is eligible to take part in elections.

In the 2008 U.S. presidential contest, 63.6 percent of those eligible to vote did so.

The U.S. differs from many countries in that the national government does not regulate elections. While the right to vote is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and the minimum age of 18 is set by federal law, the 50 U.S. states set the registration rules.

In some states, one can register to vote on election day. In other states, registration closes before the election. States also have various rules regarding residency, which affects whether someone can register there.

The two major U.S. parties -- the Democrats and the Republicans -- work to expand their size and influence through voter registration.

"It's crucial for us to get out to everybody and get them registered, and lined up ready to vote," says Ina Taylor, a Democratic Party official in the mid-Atlantic state of Maryland explaining that finding new people is as important as mobilizing the party regulars on Election Day.

Maryland Republican Party official Fred Fleischman calls registration an essential part of gaining and holding political power.

"In the state of Maryland, [with Republicans] being a minority party, it's very critical for us to register as many voters as possible so we have enough muscle, so we can compete on an even playing field with the other party," he says.

In some states, voters register as members of a given political party, while in others they do not. But people in every state can also register as independents. In some states, party affiliation is required to take part in preliminary elections called "primaries" that determine each party's candidate in the general election. But in other states, independents can take part as well.

Voter registration is also promoted by groups such as racial and ethnic minorities. This is to help ensure that elected officials know their concerns and respond to them.

"It's so important, especially with me being an African American," says Zebediah Daniels, a newly registered voter. "I feel our people fought for this, and it's very important that our people get out and continue to vote because it's such a rich privilege."

A federal law passed in 1995 allows people to register to vote while getting a driver's license, and a handful of states now permit voters to register via the Internet. Proponents say it is yet another way to increase participation in the election process that makes the U.S. a democratic nation.


Jeffrey Young

Jeffrey Young came to the “Corruption” beat after years of doing news analysis, primarily on global strategic issues such as nuclear proliferation.  During most of 2013, he was on special assignment in Baghdad and elsewhere with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).  Previous VOA activities include VOA-TV, where he created the “How America Works” and “How America Elects” series, and the “Focus” news analysis unit.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid