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A guide to voting for immigrant voters

All U.S. citizens can vote in elections. Learn how to register to vote and understand your options for voting. Know how to gather information to decide your vote. Get tips for immigrant voters.

په اساس دي جولای 18, 2024

Voting in the USA

The United States is a democracy. Citizens can vote to decide who governs them and make decisions on their behalf. Voting gives you a say in who will represent you in your local community, state, and national government. 

You are not required by law to vote but it is considered a civic duty. Voting is an important part of being a citizen in the USA. It is an opportunity to share your opinion and make a difference in your community. You can help choose representatives who stand up for causes you believe in and care about.

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Your voice matters

As an immigrant, your voice can be heard and you can be part of democracy. Voting is an important reason to become a citizen. When you vote, you can pick candidates aligned with your values, culture, and views.

2024 is a big election year. In November, voters will decide on a president for the next 4 years. Naturalized citizens make up 10% of all eligible voters in the USA. Over 3.5 million immigrants can vote for the first time this year. You can make your voice heard too. Find information for New American Voters.

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Who can vote

You must be a U.S. citizen and 18 years old to be eligible to vote in national elections. You also must be registered to vote in your state (unless you live in North Dakota).

Some cities allow non-citizens to vote in local elections. It is important to check before registering. People who lie to be able to vote can face serious consequences, including arrest and even deportation. 

Depending on your state, some people convicted of a felony may not be able to vote. 

Voting requirements and options vary by state. You can look up your state information on VOTE411

Register to vote

Registering to vote means putting your name on the list of voters in your community. It only takes 2 minutes. You will fill out a form with some basic personal information. The deadline to register varies by state.

You can also register in person at your local election office or by mail. Additionally, you can register to vote when getting a driver’s license or public assistance. You can check if you are already registered

You will get a voter registration card in the mail confirming that you are registered to vote. It may take several weeks to arrive.

If you move, you must update your voter registration with your new address. If you move to a different state, you must register to vote again in your new state.

Deciding your vote

Before you vote, you will want to learn more about your choices. You may be voting for candidates, issues, or positions you have not heard about. Here are some ways you can get informed:

  • Search for voter information guides on your state’s website.
  • Look at the candidate websites to see where they stand on issues.
  • Ask trusted friends, family, and community members.
  • Attend local town hall meetings and community debates.
  • Check for voting suggestions from organizations that support rights that are important to you.
  • Read and watch trusted news to learn about candidates and hear them speak or debate. For example, this BBC article explains where current presidential candidates stand on key issues.

Political ads and social media are typically not good choices for balanced news or opinions you can trust.

How to vote

There are a few different ways to vote in the United States, depending on the state you live in and the options they offer. You may either:

  • Vote by absentee ballot 
  • Vote by mail 
  • Vote early in person 
  • Vote on election day in person

Voting by absentee ballot

If you know you will not be able to vote in person, you can request an absentee ballot. An absentee ballot is also called a mail-in ballot because you fill your vote out at home and mail it in.

You do not need to give a reason to get an absentee ballot in 28 states. However, some states require certain reasons to request one. If you are a U.S. citizen overseas, you can still request a ballot.

Voting by mail 

If you live in California, Colorado, D.C., Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, or Washington, you do not need to request an absentee ballot to vote from home. These states run elections by mail instead of in person. They will automatically send your ballot in the mail. 

Voting early in person

In many states, you can also vote before election day with in-person early voting. Check your state’s early voting options to see when and where you can vote early.

Voting on election day in person

The place where you cast your ballot is called a polling station or polling location. Polling stations are usually located in public facilities such as schools or churches in your neighborhood. Find your local polling place. Some states use vote centers, which are larger facilities where you can vote if you live within the county.

At your polling station, a volunteer will ask you for your name and possibly for identification. Identification rules vary by state. Some polling stations may ask for your driver’s license, passport, or utility bill. You do not need to bring your voter registration card to vote but it can be helpful.

The volunteer will show you which booth you can use. A voting booth is a small enclosure. It allows you to have privacy while you are voting. 

Know your rights

If you are a person with a disability, The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that polling stations ensure that you can access and use their facilities. 

If you cannot speak or read English well, you can bring someone to help you vote. In some counties, you may be able to get a ballot in your language.

If they can’t find your name, you can ask for a provisional ballot.

If the poll closes while you are still in line, you have the right to stay and vote.

If someone is intimidating or threatening you, know that it is illegal and should be reported.

If you have any problems on election day, you can call an election protection hotline:

  • English: 1-866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683)
  • Spanish: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682)
  • Asian multilingual: 1-888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683)
  • Arabic: 1-844-YALLA-US (844-925-5287)

Learn more about voter rights.

Get involved

Helping others in your community register to vote is a great way to get involved even if you cannot vote. It is also a way to connect with new people. You can look for opportunities with organizations, such as:

You can also volunteer to work at the polls

Types of elections

Primaries

A primary is a competition in which political parties choose their candidates for the next general election. The winning candidate runs in the general election against the winning candidate from the other political parties. 

In the USA, the two major political parties are the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.

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General elections

General elections are held in November. Voters choose between the winner of the primary election for local, state, and federal officials. 

Presidential elections happen every four years. The next presidential election is on Tuesday, November 5, 2024. 

Congressional elections happen every two years. Voters choose senators and members of the House of Representatives.

Midterm elections are the congressional election between presidential elections. 

Local elections

Local elections are when voters choose council members, judges, mayors, and other local officials. Every region of a state has different dates for local elections. Find your state and local election information.

Special elections

Special elections happen when an unexpected event creates a need for a new person in an elected position. For example, there is a special election if someone dies, resigns, or is removed from office.

Election results 

You can get the latest election results on your state or local election office’s website. Major news outlets will also give updates and breakdowns of election results. 


ددې پاڼي معلومات له USA.gov, vote.org, ACLU, نورو باوري سرچینو څخه په لاس راځي. زموږ موخه داده چې د پوهاوي لپاره اسانه معلومات وړاندې کړو چې په منظم ډول تازه کیږي. دا معلومات قانوني مشوره نه ده.

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