All Year, the Focus is: Christian’s Must Vote!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q – What Is Voting?
A – Voting is a simple act with a significant impact. Voting is the way that “we the people” elect individuals who will lead our government, make our laws, and protect our freedoms. It is also one of the ways Citizen Christians can function as salt and light to bring about change in our nation.
“It is a moral outrage that more Christians do not take their voting responsibilities seriously. If they did, this would be a very different nation, and a better one.” – James Dobson, Psychologist and Author
Voting is a privilege that many people in other parts of the world can only dream about. Voting is a great privilege, but it is also a great responsibility. Exodus 18:21 (NIV) says, “Select capable men from all the people–men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain–and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens.” Acts 6:3 (NIV) says: “Choose…men from among you who are known to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them.” Voting is foundational to our form of government, and it is inexcusable for Christians not to obey the command of Christ to participate in government by voting (see Matt. 22:21).
For Americans serving in the military or living overseas, the Department of Defense’s Voting Assistance Guide may be of some help.
Q – What is a Primary?
A – A primary is a preliminary election, where voters go to the polls to select a candidate for office. The winner of each parties primaries then face off. Its kind of like the playoffs in football. Win and you advance to the next level.
Primaries were first used back in the mid-1800’s. They were created in an effort to cut down on fraud by giving the power directly to voters instead of party bosses. By the early 20th century, primaries were used for statewide and presidential elections as well.
A primary can be nonpartisan, open and closed. A nonpartisan primary is where candidates are not listed by party affiliation. They are mainly used in local and judicial elections. In an open primary any registered voter of any party can vote on all candidates. In a closed primary only registered party members may vote for the party’s slate of candidates. Only nine states have open primaries.
Q – What is a Caucus?
A – A caucus is a primary that is limited to registered party members only. Members vote for delegates to the county and state conventions at small party meetings across the state. Those delegates then select representatives to go the national party convention. The delegates who go to the national convention cast the actual votes for the candidates they want to run for office.
Only 14 states hold presidential caucuses instead of primaries. Some states have recently moved to a caucus system from a primary system to save money, as fewer voters take part in caucuses.
Q – What is the Electoral College?
A – The president and vice president of the United States are not elected by popular vote, but by the electoral college–a system devised by the founding fathers in the Constitution.
When people cast their votes, they’re actually voting for party slates of electors pledged to the candidates. Generally, the candidate who wins the most number of popular votes in a state wins the state’s entire slate of electoral votes. The candidate with the majority of electoral votes–at least 270 out of 538 possible–wins.
Each state is allotted as many electors as it has members in Congress. States with larger populations have more electoral votes. So it is possible to win the popular vote but not the presidency. That actually happened in the 2000 Presidential Election. The electors are chosen by a variety of methods according to state–including through primaries, party conventions and party organizations.
If no candidate wins a majority of the electoral votes, the House of Representatives has to decide the presidential election. Don’t laugh. After the 2000 election, we know that anything could happen!
Q – What is a National Party Convention?
A – A convention is an official gathering of party representatives to choose their candidates for office. National party conventions are held the summer before elections in November. At these conventions, delegates from each state cast votes for candidates.
The delegates are chosen at state primaries and caucuses. Each state, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the various U.S. Territories, is allowed a certain number of delegates that reflects the size of the state’s population.
In 2008, the Democratic National Convention will take place August 25-28 in Denver, Colorado. The Republican National Convention will be held on Sept. 1-4 in St. Paul, Minnesota.
FAQs About Voter Registration
Q – Do I need to show identification to register to vote?
A – Some states are requiring a photo ID when registering to vote. So it is always a good idea to have your ID when registering at your county office, and especially when you arrive at your polling place to vote on Election Day.
Q – Do I have to register for every election?
A – No. The only cases in which you would need to re register would be if you moved, changed your name, or wished to change your party affiliation (see Register or Re-Register? above).
Q – I live in two different states. Where should I register?
A – You cannot register to vote in two places at the same time. In this case, you would have to choose a state and only register and vote in that state.
Q – Does each state have different voter registration requirements?
A – Yes. Each state has its own unique guidelines. Contact your local Supervisor of Elections or see http://www.fec.gov or http://www.nass.org.
Q – Can I register for my husband or wife?
A – No, you cannot sign the voter registration form for anyone else, even if that person is your spouse. However, you may take the Voter Registration Form and give it to other people to fill out and sign, and you may deliver or mail in signed forms for others. Again, you cannot sign the Voter Registration Form for anyone but yourself.
Q – Let’s say I have been convicted of a felony, and have served my time. Can I register to vote?
A – Yes. You can register to vote if your sentence is complete and your civil rights have been restored.
Q – Let’s say I have a Student’s Visa, or a Green Card. Can I vote?
A – No. You must be a United States citizen in order to vote.
Q – Let’s say I am a student and old enough to vote. Can I register to vote where I go to school?
A – Yes. You can register to vote in the state and/or county where you are going to school. However, remember that you can only register in the state in which you have established official residency.
Q – What if I were homeless? Could I register to vote?
A – Yes. However, you must provide an address where you receive your mail, so that your voting precinct can be determined and so you can receive your registration card. Some voter registration forms provide a section for homeless people.
Q – Can I use a nickname when registering to vote?
A – No. You should use your full legal name – the same name you use when you sign legal documents.
Q – I am currently registered to vote, but now I have a different name and/or address. What do I need to do?
A – All you need to do is fill out another voter registration form.
Q – Can I choose a business address for registering?
A – No. You must register to vote using your current residential address. You cannot register using a business address, a former address, or the address of a piece of property you own. You must register where you live.
Q – How do I change my party affiliation?
A – Again, simply re-register and choose the party affiliation you desire.
Q – Do I have to choose a political party?
A – No. It is not necessary to choose a political party when you register. Some states do have “closed” primary elections that only allow those registered as Republican or Democrat to vote in their party’s primary elections. In some states, independents and those who choose “no party affiliation” cannot vote in primary elections. Check your state’s requirements for primary elections (See http://www.nass.org).
Q – How do I find out where I will be voting?
A – After you register to vote, you will be sent a Voter Registration ID Card. It will have the name and address of your polling place on it. Usually, this location is near your home. You can only vote at that specific location on Election Day. If you will not be able to make it to that location on Election Day, you must request an absentee ballot in advance. Other polling places are often made available during early voting.*
Q – Once I register, when will I receive my new voter registration card?
A – When you can expect to receive your Voter Registration Card varies. To be safe, count on it taking 4 6 weeks to arrive in the mail.
Q – Where can I find a sample ballot?
A – Usually, your local newspaper will print a sample ballot before Election Day.
Q – What hours are the polls open on Election Day?
A – This varies from state to state, but generally, the polls are open from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM.*
*Please note that answers to specific questions may vary from state to state. Please see http://www.nass.org or http://www.fec.gov and enter your location for specific answers.
FAQs About Absentee Ballots
Q – Why would I need an Absentee Ballot?
A – Absentee ballots allow individuals who cannot get to their voting locations on Election Day to cast their votes by mail. Absentee ballots are also useful for individuals who are traveling or who will be out of the area on Election Day. International Business people, College students, Vacationers, etc. who are going to be providentially hindered from being near their established place of residence on Election Day should request an absentee ballot and vote.
Q – How do I obtain an Absentee Ballot?
A – You may request an absentee ballot by contacting your Supervisor of Elections. Remember, it is important to request an absentee ballot early, so you have plenty of time to receive it, vote, and get it back to the elections office by your state’s deadline (check http://www.fec.gov or http://www.nass.org for these dates).
For more on Absentee Voting, please see the Federal Voting Assistance Progam.