Rutgers Logo Rutgers University
Eagleton Institute of Politics
Eagleton Institute of Politics

Research/Publications


America’s Newest Voters:
Understanding Immigrant and Minority Voting Behavior


Voter Registration Requirements and
Schedule of Primary Elections

Academic studies have demonstrated that electoral laws affect voter participation. For example, voter registration laws have been shown to hinder citizens from participating in elections (Wolfinger and Rosenstone 1980). It is the responsibility of state election officials to determine such voter registration requirements as the length of time one must be a resident in order to register or the date by which one must register in order to vote. Consequently, registration requirements as well as levels of voter participation vary from state to state.

Table 1 (see below) summarizes these regulations for each state. Of particular interest to observers of elections is the comparison between registration requirements and voter turnout for the state (information on voter registration and turnout in 2000 can be found on the fact sheet regarding past voting behavior of citizens). For example, states without voter registration requirements (North Dakota) or those that offer registration on election day (Minnesota, Wisconsin) had higher rates of voter turnout in 2000 (over 60% turnout of the voting age population) than most of those states that placed a deadline on registration. For those focusing on minority and ethnic voter participation, it is particularly interesting to study the registration requirements of those states in which foreign migration has been high. For example, it is noteworthy that such states as California, Florida and Texas have a relatively lenient residency requirement. All three states require that prospective voters are residents of the state, but there is no particular length of residency that is required. Such a regulation might serve as an incentive to newcomers to participate in elections.

Table 1: State Voter Registration Requirements and Deadlines
State Residency Requirements Age Requirements Legal Standing Deadline Other
Alabama
Must be citizen of state and co. when register
Must be 18 before any election
Must not have been convicted of felony punishable by imprisonment or have had civil rights restored
11 days before the election
Must swear an oath to U.S. Constitution and state of Alabama
Alaska
  
Must be 18 within 90 days of registration
Must not be a convicted felon
30 days before the election
Must not be registered to vote in another state
Arizona
Must be resident of state and co. 29 days before the election
Must be 18 on or before next general election
Must not have been convicted of treason or felony or have had civil rights restored
29 days before the election
  
Arkansas
Must live in state at address listed on voter application
Must be 18 on or before next election
Must not be a convicted felon or have discharged your sentence or been pardoned
30 days before the election
Must not claim right to vote in any other jurisdiction
California
Must be resident of state
Must be 18 at time of next election
Must not be imprisoned or on parole for conviction of felony
15 days before the election
  
Colorado
Must be resident of state 30 days before the election
Must be 18 on or before election day
Must not be prisoner or serving any part of sentence under mandate
29 days before the election a
  
Connecticut
Must be resident of state and town in which you vote
Must be 17 to register and 18 to vote
Must have completed confinement or parole if felon and have had voting rights restored
14 days before the election
  
Delaware
Must be a permanent resident of state
Must be 18 on date of next general election
Felons eligible to vote if fines and sentences completed 5 years prior to application date and convictions may not be disqualifying convictions (i.e. murder)
20 days before the election
  
Dist. of Columbia
Must be a resident of District 30 days before the election
Must be 18 on or preceding next election
Must not be in jail for felony conviction
30 days before the election
Must not claim right to vote anywhere outside D.C.
Florida
Must be legal resident of state and co. in which you register
Must be 18 to register and may pre-register at 17
Must not have been convicted of felony without civil rights having been restored
29 days before the election
Must not claim right to vote in any other county or state and must swear to defend constitutions of U.S. and the state
Georgia
Must be legal resident of state and co. in which you vote
Must be 18 within 6 months after day of registration and 18 to vote
Must not be serving sentence for convicted felony
5th Monday before any primary or general election
  
Hawaii
Must be resident of state
Must be 16 to register and 18 by election day in order to vote
Must not be incarcerated for felony conviction
30 days before the election
  
Idaho
Must be resident of state and co. 30 days before the election
Must be 18
Must not have been convicted of a felony and without having rights of citizenship restored or in prison on conviction of criminal offense
25 days before the election
  
Illinois
Must be resident of state and precinct 30 days before the election
Must be 18 on or before election day
Must not be in jail for felony conviction
28 before the election
Must not claim right to vote anywhere else
Indiana
Must be resident of precinct 30 days before the election
Must be 18 on day of next general election
Must not currently be in jail for criminal conviction
29 days before the election
Iowa
Must be resident of state
Must be 17 ½ to register and 18 to vote
Must not have been convicted of a felony or have had your rights restored
10 days before elections for state primaries and general elections b
Must not claim the right to vote in any other location or under any other name
Kansas
Must be resident of state
Must be 18 by next statewide general election
Must have completed sentence if convicted of felony
15 days before the election
Must not claim the right to vote anywhere outside the state
Kentucky
Must be resident of state and co. 28 days before the election
Must be 18 on or before next general election
Must not be a convicted felon or civil rights must have been restored by executive pardon if convicted felon
29 days before the election
  
Louisiana
Must be resident of state. Resident address must be address where claim homestead exemption.
Must be 17 to register and 18 prior to the next election to vote
Must not be currently imprisoned for conviction of felony
30 days before the election
  
Maine
Must be resident of state and municipality in which you vote
Must be 17 to register and 18 to vote
  
10 business days before the election c
    
Maryland
Must be resident of state
Must be 18 by next general election
Must not be under sentence or on probation following conviction for "infamous crime" (i.e. any felony) and must not have been convicted more than once of such crime without a pardon
21 days before the election
  
Massachusetts
Must be resident of state
Must be 18 on or before next election
Must not have been convicted on corrupt practices regarding elections and must not be currently incarcerated for felony conviction
20 days before the election
  
Michigan
Must be resident of state and 30 day resident of city/township by election day
Must be 18 by next election
Must not be confined in jail after being convicted and sentenced
30 days before the election
  
Minnesota
Must be resident of state 20 days before the election and reside at address given
Must be 18 by election day
Must not be convicted of treason or a felony or have had your civil rights restored
21 days before the election d
  
Mississippi
Must have lived in state and co. 30 days before the election
Must be 18 by time of general election
Must not have been convicted of such crimes as murder, rape, etc. or have had your rights restored
30 days before the election
  
Missouri
Must be a resident of the state
Must be 17 ½ to register and 18 to vote
Must not be on probation or parole for conviction of felony, must not be convicted of felony or misdemeanor connected with suffrage, and must not be under imprisonment
28 days before the election
  
Montana
Must be resident of state and co. in which you vote 30 days before the election
Must be 18 on or before election
Must not be in a penal institute for felony conviction
30 days before the election
Must meet all qualifications by next election day if do not currently meet them
Nebraska
Must be a resident of state
Must be 18 or will be 18 on or before 1st Tues. after the 1st Mon. of Nov.
Must not have been convicted of a felony or must have had civil rights restored
3rd Friday before the the election e
Nevada
Must be continuous resident of state and co. 30 days before the election and resident of precinct 10 days before the election
Must be 18 by date of next election
Must not be laboring under felony conviction or other loss of civil rights
5th Saturday before any primary or general election
Must claim no other place as legal residence
New Hampshire
Must have a permanent established domicile in state
Must be 18
Must not have been denied right to vote due to felony conviction
10 days before the election f
  
New Jersey
Must be resident of state and co. at your address 30 days before election
Must be 18 by time of next election
Must not be serving sentence, parole, or probation due to conviction of indictable offense
29 days before the election
  
New Mexico
Must be a resident of the state
Must be 18 at time of next election
Must have completed all conditions of probation and parole if convicted of felony, served sentence, or been granted pardon by Governor
28 days before the election
  
New York
Must be resident co. or city of NY 30 days before the election
Must be 18 by Dec. 31 of year in which you file registration form.
Must not be in jail or on parole for felony conviction
25 days before the election
Must not claim the right to vote elsewhere
North Carolina
Must be resident of state and co. in which you live 30 days before the election
Must be 18 by day of next general election
Must have rights of citizenship restored if convicted felon
25 days before the election
Must not be registered to vote in any other county or state
North Dakota
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
  
Ohio
Must be a resident of state
Must be 18 on or before election day. May vote for candidates in primary if 18 on or before general election
Must not be convicted of a felony and currently incarcerated
30 days before the election
  
Oklahoma
  
Must be 18 on or before date of next election
Must not have been convicted of a felony or have been pardoned
25 days before the election
  
Oregon
Must be a resident of state
Must be 18 by election day
  
21 days before the election
  
Pennsylvania
Must be resident of state and election district 30 days before election
Must be 18 on day of next election
  
30 days before the primary or general election
  
Rhode Island
Must be resident of state for 30 days before the election
Must be 18 by election day
Must not be serving prison sentence for conviction of felony and may not be serving any sentence (i.e. probation) upon conviction of felony committed after Nov. 5, 1986
30 days before the election
  
South Carolina
Must be resident of state and must claim address on application as only legal place of residence and claim no other place as legal residence
Must be 18 on or before next election
Must not be imprisoned resulting from conviction of a crime and must never have been convicted of felony or offense against election laws, or if convicted, have served sentence or have been pardoned
30 days before the election
  
South Dakota
Must reside in state
Must be 18 by next election
Must not be under a sentence of imprisonment for felony conviction
15 days before the election
 
Tennessee
Must be a resident of state
Must be 18 on or before next election
Must not be convicted of felony or, if convicted, have had full rights of citizenship restored
30 days before the election
 
Texas
Must be resident of co. in which apply for registration
Must be 17 and 10 months to register and 18 to vote
Must not be finally convicted of a felony. May register if pardoned, after discharge from correction institution, or after period of probation.
30 days before the election
 
Utah
Must be resident of state 30 days before the election
Must be 18 on or before next election
Must not be convicted felon currently incarcerated for commission of felony
20 days before the election
 
Vermont
Must be a resident of state
Must be 18 on or before election day
2nd Saturday before the election
Must swear oath to state
Virginia
Must be resident of state and precinct in which you vote
Must be 18 by next May or Nov. general election
Must not have been convicted of a felony or have had civil rights restored
29 days before the election
 
Washington
Must be legal resident of state, co., and precinct 30 days before the election
Must be 18 by election day
Must not be convicted of "infamous crime" unless civil rights restored
30 days before the election g
 
West Virginia
Must live in state at address listed on registration application
Must be 18 to register, or to vote in primary, 17 and turning 18 before general election
Must not be under conviction, probation, or parole for felony, treason or election bribery
20 days before the election
 
Wisconsin
Must be resident of state 10 days before the
Must be 18
Must not have been convicted of treason, felony, or bribery or have had civil rights restored
13 days before the election where registration is required h
Must not make or benefit from bet or wage depending on result of an election
Wyoming
Must be resident of state
Must be 18 on day of next election
Must not be convicted of a felony, or if convicted, have had civil rights restored
 
 
 

Source: Federal Election Commission Website, www.fec.gov
Notes: North Dakota does not have voter registration. All states require that registration applicants are citizens of the United States. 
  A majority of states require that applicants have not been declared mentally incompetent or an incapacitated person or are not under guardianship for a mental disability. The following states do not have such requirements: Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington.
 

Registration deadlines and requirements are the same for general and primary elections. In the instance of special primaries or special elections, a state's registration deadline may differ from the deadline listed above.

If application is received in the mail without a postmark, it must be received within 5 days of close of registration.
Registration must be delivered 11 days before other elections. Registration forms postmarked 15 or more days before an election are considered on time even if received after the deadline.
A voter may register in person up to and including election day.
Election day registration also is available at polling places.
Registration also may be delivered by 6:00PM on the second Friday before the election.
Registration application accepted only as a request for absentee voter mail-in registration form.
Or delivered in person 15 days before the election
Registration also may be completed in local voter registration office up to 5:00PM 1 day before the election or at the polling place on election day.
 
  
Information regarding the primary dates for the 2000 presidential election can be found in Tables 2 and 3 (see below).
Table 2: 2000 Presidential Primary Dates by State
State
Primary Date
Caucus Date
Alabama 6/6  
Alaska   5/19 (R
5/20 (D)
(Conventions)
Arizona 2/22

3/11 (D)

 
Arkansas 5/23  
California 3/7  
Colorado 3/10  
Connecticut 3/7  
Delaware 2/5

2/8 (R)

 
Dist. of Columbia 5/2  
Florida 3/14  
Georgia 3/7  
Hawaii   3/7 (D)
5/19 (R)
Idaho 5/23  
Illinois 3/21  
Indiana 5/2  
Iowa   1/24
Kansas   4/22 (D)
5/25 (R)
Kentucky 5/23  
Louisiana 3/14  
Maine 3/7  
Maryland 3/7  
Massachusetts 3/7  
Michigan 2/22 3/11 (D)
Minnesota   3/7
Mississippi 3/14  
Missouri 3/7  
Montana 6/6  
Nebraska 5/9  
Nevada   5/19-21 (D)
5/25 (R)
(Conventions)
New Hampshire 2/1  
New Jersey 6/6  
New Mexico 6/6  
New York 3/7  
North Carolina 5/2  
North Dakota   2/29 (R)
3/7 (D)
Ohio 3/7  
Oklahoma 3/14  
Oregon 5/16  
Pennsylvania 4/4  
Rhode Island 3/7  
South Carolina 2/19 (R) 3/9 (D)
South Dakota 6/6  
Tennessee 3/14  
Texas 3/14  
Utah 3/10  
Vermont 3/7  
Virginia 2/29 (R) 6/3 (R)
(Convention)
Washington 2/29  
West Virginia 5/9  
Wisconsin 4/4  
Wyoming   3/10 (R)
3/25 (D)
________
Source: Federal Election Commission Website, <www.fec.gov>.

 

     Table 3: 2000 Presidential Primary Dates (Chronological Order)
State
Primary Date
Caucus Date
Iowa    1/24
New Hampshire 2/1   
Delaware 2/5
2/8 (R)
  
South Carolina 2/19 (R)  
Arizona 2/22  
Michigan 2/22  
North Dakota   2/29 (R)
Virginia 2/29 (R)  
Washington 2/29  
California 3/7  
Connecticut 3/7  
Georgia 3/7  
Maine 3/7  
Maryland 3/7  
Massachusetts 3/7  
Missouri 3/7  
New York 3/7  
Ohio 3/7  
Rhode Island 3/7  
Vermont 3/7  
Hawaii   3/7 (D)
Minnesota   3/7
North Dakota   3/7 (D)
South Carolina   3/9 (D)
Colorado 3/10  
Utah 3/10  
Wyoming   3/10 (R)
Arizona 3/11 (D)  
Michigan   3/11 (D)
Florida 3/14  
Louisiana 3/14  
Mississippi 3/14  
Oklahoma 3/14  
Tennessee 3/14  
Texas 3/14  
Illinois 3/21  
Wyoming   3/25 (D)
Pennsylvania 4/4  
Wisconsin 4/4  
Kansas   4/22 (D)
Dist. of Columbia 5/2  
Indiana 5/2  
North Carolina 5/2  
Nebraska 5/9  
West Virginia 5/9  
Oregon 5/16  
Alaska   5/19 (R)
(Convention)
Hawaii   5/19 (R)
Nevada   5/19-21 (D)
(Convention)
Alaska   5/20 (D)
(Convention)
Arkansas 5/23  
Idaho 5/23  
Kentucky 5/23  
Kansas   5/25 (R)
Nevada   5/25 (R)
(Convention)
Virginia   6/3 (D)
(Convention)
Alabama 6/6  
Montana 6/6  
New Jersey 6/6  
New Mexico 6/6  
South Dakota 6/6  
________
Source: Federal Election Commission Website, <www.fec.gov>.

 

Primary dates for the 2004 presidential election can be found in Tables 4 and 5 (see below). Once again, primary dates and the methods by which citizens choose presidential nominees vary from state to state. The nature and date of the election are a function of state statutes, party constitutions, party rules and regulations, and party by-laws (Federal Election Commission). Over the years, states have tended to “front-load” the primary process. In an effort to play an influential and prominent role in the process, states have been inclined to move their primary election earlier in the election season. As a result, candidates are able to secure enough delegates to win the nomination months before the convention. Another result is that states holding their election later in the season have little to no say in the selection of their party’s nominee. Again, of particular interest to observers of elections and minority participation might be the primary dates of those states that are both electorally important and have been subject to large numbers of foreign immigrants. For example, California and New York played a prominent role in the 2000 presidential primary process. With their primaries falling on March 7, these large and ethnically diverse states heavily influenced the outcome of the nomination contests.

Table 4: 2004 Presidential Primary Dates By State
State
Primary Date
Caucus Date
Open or Closed Primary
Alabama 6/1   Open
Alaska      
Arizona 2/3   Closed
Arkansas 5/18   Open
California 3/2   Modified Closed
Colorado      
Connecticut 3/2   Closed
Delaware 2/3 (D)   Closed
Dist. of Columbia 1/13 2/10 (D)* Closed
Florida 3/9   Closed
Georgia 3/2   Open
Hawaii   3/2 (D)  
Idaho 5/25 2/24 (D) Open
Illinois 3/16   Open
Indiana 5/4   Open
Iowa   1/19  
Kansas 8/3   Open
Kentucky 5/18   Closed
Louisiana 3/9   Open
Maine   2/8 (D)  
Maryland 3/2   Closed
Massachusetts 3/2    
Michigan   2/7 (D)  
Minnesota   3/2 (D)  
Mississippi 3/9   Open
Missouri 2/3   Open
Montana 6/8   Open
Nebraska 5/11   Open
Nevada      
New Hampshire* 1/27   Closed
New Jersey 6/8    
New Mexico   2/3  
New York* 3/2   Closed
North Carolina 5/4   Closed
North Dakota   2/3  
Ohio 3/2   Open
Oklahoma 2/3   Closed
Oregon 5/18   Closed
Pennsylvania 4/27   Closed
Rhode Island 3/2    
South Carolina 2/3 (D)

2/3

   
South Dakota 6/1   Closed
Tennessee 2/10   Open
Texas 3/2   Open
Utah      
Vermont 3/2   Open
Virgina 2/10 (D) 2/10 (R)*     Open
Open  
Washington 3/2 2/7 (D)  
West Virginia 5/11   Closed
Wisconsin 2/17   Open
Wyoming      
_____
Source: Project Vote Smart Website, <www.vote-smart.org/>.

Notes: States without presidential primaries include Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming

* tentative date
     Table 5: 2004 Presidential Primary Dates (Chronological Order)
State
Primary Date
Caucus Date
Open or Closed Primary
Dist. of Columbia 1/13    Closed
Iowa   1/19  
New Hampshire* 1/27   Closed
Arizona 2/3   Closed
Delaware 2/3 (D)   Closed
Missouri 2/3   Open
New Mexico   2/3(D)  
North Dakota   2/3  
Oklahoma 2/3   Closed
South Carolina 2/3 (D)    
South Carolina 2/3    
Michigan   2/7 (D)  
Washington   2/7 (D)  
Maine   2/8 (D)  
Dist. of Columbia*   2/10 (D)  
Tennessee 2/10   Open
Virginia 2/10 (D)   Open
Virginia* 2/10 (R)   Open
Wisconsin 2/17   Open
Idaho   2/24 (D)  
California 3/2   Modified Closed
Connecticut 3/2   Closed
Georgia 3/2   Open
Hawaii   3/2 (D)  
Maryland 3/2   Closed
Massachusetts 3/2    
Minnesota   3/2 (D)  
New York* 3/2   Closed
Ohio 3/2   Open
Rhode Island 3/2    
Texas 3/2   Open
Vermont 3/2   Open
Washington 3/2    
Florida 3/9   Closed
Louisiana 3/9   Open
Mississippi 3/9   Open
Illinois 3/16   Open
Pennsylvania 4/27   Closed
Indiana 5/4   Open
North Carolina 5/4   Closed
Nebraska 5/11   Open
West Virginia 5/11   Closed
Arkansas 5/18   Open
Kentucky 5/18   Closed
Oregon 5/18   Closed
Idaho 5/25   Open
Alabama 6/1   Open
South Dakota 6/1   Closed
Montana 6/8   Open
New Jersey 6/8    
Kansas 8/3   Open
______
Source: Project Vote Smart Website, <www.vote-smart.org/>.

Notes: States without presidential primaries include Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming

* tentative date
________________________________________________________________
Works Cited:
 

Federal Election Commission. “2000 Presidential Primary Dates and Candidate Filing Deadlines for Ballot Access.” Federal Election Commission website <www.fec.gov>.

Wolfinger, Raymond E., and Steven J. Rosenstone. 1980. Who Votes? New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.