US Higher Education holds a special relationship to voter registration.
The 1998 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act requires all postsecondary Institutions to make a good-faith effort to distribute voter registration forms to each degree- or certificate-seeking student who attends classes on their campus.
Participation in the election process in America is a constitutional right granted to everyone over 18 years of age. This provides every person with the opportunity to voice their choice in electing persons to office and helping to set the direction of our government. Individual involvement in the process allows us to exercise our franchise to vote and in so doing demonstrates our interest in accepting our responsibility as good citizens.
1998 Higher Education Act
The 1998 Higher Education Act requires ‘all post-secondary institutions to make a good-faith effort to distribute voter registration forms to each degree- or certificate-seeking student who attends classes on campus.’ The forms, which are supplied by each state, must be distributed before the registration cut-off date for every federal and gubernatorial election, as well as special elections for federal office.
Title IV – Student Assistance, Part G – General Provisions 489. Program Participation Agreements.
PROVISION OF VOTER REGISTRATION FORMS
(1) PROGRAM PARTICIPATION REQUIREMENT- Section 487(a) (20 U.S.C. 1094(a)) is amended by adding at the end the following:
(23)(A) The institution, if located in a State to which section 4(b) of the National Voter Registration Act (42 U.S.C. 1973gg-2(b)) does not apply, will make a good faith effort to distribute a mail voter registration form, requested and received from the State, to each student enrolled in a degree or certificate program and physically in attendance at the institution, and to make such forms widely available to students at the institution.
(B) The institution shall request the forms from the State 120 days prior to the deadline for registering to vote within the State. If an institution has not received a sufficient quantity of forms to fulfill this section from the State within 60 days prior to the deadline for registering to vote in the State, the institution shall not be held liable for not meeting the requirements of this section during that election year.
(C) This paragraph shall apply to elections as defined in section 301(1) of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 431(1)), and includes the election for Governor or other chief executive within such State).
(2) REGULATION PROHIBITED- No officer of the executive branch is authorized to instruct the institution in the manner in which the amendment made by this subsection is carried out.
Postsecondary institutions must request registration forms from the state at least 120 days prior to the deadline for registering to vote. The state must deliver the forms to you 60 days prior to the registration cut-off date. (If they do not, you no longer have to fulfill the mandate). Once you receive the forms, distribution is up to you.
What is National Voter Registration?
The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which took effect in most states in 1995, requires each state to:
- Enable individuals to register to vote in local, state, and federal elections using a postcard voter registration form.*
- Offer voter registration when people apply for a driver’s license, renew a driver’s license, or change their address with their state’s motor vehicle agency (hence the nickname “motor voter”); or apply for public assistance, defined as Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), Women Infants and Children (WIC), Medicare, or payments from state-funded agencies serving the disabled.
- Make voter registration available by mail, without requiring a witness or notary.
- Mail a follow-up notice to new voter registration applicants informing them of the status of their application (registered, rejected, or requiring additional information).
- Stop “purging” from the registration lists people who do not vote.
* There are some exceptions to the law. New Hampshire and Wisconsin town, village, and city clerks will accept the form only as a request for their own mail-in absentee voter registration form. North Dakota does not have voter registration. Wyoming cannot accept this form under state law. States that accept the national form now will accept copies of the application printed from the computer image on regular paper stock, signed by the applicant, and mailed in an envelope with first class postage. Some relatively minor modifications were made to the form under the Help American Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). Visit www.fec.gov for details.
The law requires the federal government to:
- Require the Federal Election Commission to develop a form that will be accepted in all states that do not offer Election Day registration.
- Offer voter registration at military recruitment offices.
In addition, most states allow registration using the national voter registration form developed by the Election Assistance Commission. This form, which contains mailing instructions and voter registration deadlines for the District of Columbia and all 50 states, may be found by visiting one of the following links.
Q: Who can register to vote?
A: To register you must be a U.S. Citizen and a Kentucky resident for at least 28 days before election day; be at least 18 years old by the date of the next general election (if you will be 18 by the November general election, you are eligible to vote in the prior May primary election);not be a convicted felon or, if convicted of a felony offense, you must have had your civil rights restored. Contact your local parole office to obtain an application for restoration of civil rights; not have been judged “mentally incompetent” in a court of law and have voting rights removed; and not claim the right to vote anywhere outside Kentucky.
Q: Where do I register to vote?
A: You can register at one of the following locations:
- County clerk’s office
- Driver’s license office, if you are applying for or renewing your driver’s license
- Food Stamp
- WIC, and state-funded offices serving those with disabilities, if you are a client of these offices
- Armed forces recruitment offices, if you are a prospective member of the armed forces
- High schools, if you are a student or staff member
- Kentucky mail – in Voter Registration Card
- The completed voter registration card must be mailed or returned at least 28 days prior to the election.
Q: What if I don’t have a residential address?
A: Your residence for voter registration purposes is the place where your habitation is, and the place where, when you leave, you have the intention of returning. See KRS 116.035. In other words, wherever you sleep and live can be your residence.
Q: Must I choose a party when I register?
A: Kentucky has closed party primary elections. You must register as a Democrat or Republican to vote in that party’s May primary election. If you choose a different party registration other than Democrat or Republican, you cannot vote in their respective primaries, but may vote in nonpartisan city and judicial primaries.
All eligible voters can vote in the November general election or special election.
Q: What if I don’t want to register to vote in a political party?
A: You may choose to register to vote as a Republican, Democrat, or Other. If you check “Other”, please write in the name of your chosen entity. You may choose, Constitution, Green, Libertarian, Reform, Socialist Workers, independent status, or something else of your choice.
If you choose “Other”, you are eligible to vote only for nonpartisan offices in any primary election. You may, however, vote for any candidate of your choice in all general and special elections.
Q: What if I am a convicted felon?
A: If you are a convicted felon you may regain the right to register to vote if you submit a Restoration of Civil Rights Form and receive an executive pardon from the Governor. Once you receive an executive pardon you will receive a certificate that you can present to the county clerk along with a completed voter registration card so that you may register to vote. For more information. http://www.corrections.ky.gov/
Q: Is my voter registration open to the public?
A: Yes, any citizen may inspect or make copies of any registration record, pursuant to KRS 116.095. However, your social security number will not be disclosed.
Q: How do I know where to vote on election day?
A: You will receive a notice in the mail from the county clerk with your precinct name and voting location address. The polls are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., local time. All those in line by 6 p.m. will be able to vote. If you have any questions concerning where to vote, call your county clerk or visit http://cdc.ky.gov/vicweb/index.jspavailable on this website.
Other Sources of Information
There are many sources you can contact to find where the candidates stand on the issues.
The Major Parties
The political parties in your state should be able to help you gather information about the candidates for local, state, and federal office. Check your telephone directory for a local number, or contact the Washington offices:
Democratic National Committee
Republican National Committee
The League of Women Voters
Most state chapters of the League publish a voter’s guide before each election, based on questionnaires answered by candidates seeking state and federal office. Consult your telephone directory to find a chapter in your area, or contact the national office at: (202 429-1965) www.lwv.org/about/state.html
Project Vote Smart
This nonpartisan organization maintains a database on all presidential, congressional, gubernatorial, and state legislative candidates that includes their responses to questionnaires, and the incumbents’ voting records. The database also includes information on how to register to vote in each state, and the addresses of the county or city elections offices.
The Library of Congress website contains a searchable electronic version of the Congressional Record, as well as information on congressional schedules and the budget and appropriations process. Thomas also provides links to the websites for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the White House, and other government agencies.