The tortured process of finally deciding the 2004 Presidential election underscored for many the importance of voter registration. The right to vote is guaranteed to virtually all Americans aged 18 and over, yet voter turnout is traditionally extremely low. Several states, however, are working to improve voter turnout by making it easier to register to vote.
The Motor Voter Law
The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 was the first large-scale effort on the part of the federal government to make voter registration easier. Prior to the passage of this Act, often called the Motor Voter Law, many states required prospective voters to make a separate trip to a voter registration office.
Under the Motor Voter Law, all states are required to ease the voter registration process by permitting voters to register at DMVs, disability centers and schools, as well as via mail-in procedures. Most states require voters to register 30 days before an upcoming election, but several permit Election Day registration.
Who Is Ineligible?
In general, every adult aged 18 or above has a Constitutional right to cast a vote. Discrimination based on gender, race or any other class status is prohibited. Nonetheless, certain individuals are ineligible to vote. Excluded voters vary by state, but may include convicted felons (in some states only during the prison term) and those who been judged legally insane.