Don’t you think a voter should be a citizen of the United States?
One would think that the very basic requirement for voting in an election is to be a member of the body or group that is holding the election. You cannot vote for leadership in your church unless you are a member of that congregation. You cannot vote to elect officials in your labor union unless you are a card-carrying member of that union. Then shouldn’t you be required to be a citizen of the United States to vote in its elections? The answer is not quite as simple as it may sound.
In my home state of Tennessee, as an example, in order to vote you are required to be a citizen of the United States,18 years of age or older on or before the date of the next election, and a resident of the State. The office of the Secretary of State even publishes a Guideline for Determining Residency. State voting requirements are then similarly applied to federal elections.
But in order to participate in an election of public officials, you must be “registered” to vote. And there the citizenship requirement gets a bit fuzzy.
In the sweep of public sentiment that surrounded the civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties, came the Civil Rights Act of 1965. Its purpose was to make the voting process as easy as possible. As a result, voter registration can now be accomplished in person at any of the following locations:
- County Clerk’s Offices
- County Election Commission Offices
- Public Libraries
- Register of Deeds Offices