New voters: deadline to register for Texas primary is Feb. 1



In this Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 photo, “I Voted Early” stickers are seen at an early voting polling site, in Austin, Texas. In elections that begin next week, voters in 10 states will be required to present photo identification before casting ballots _ the first major test of voter ID laws after years of legal challenges arguing that the measures are designed to suppress voting. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

For many students, 2016 marks the first time they get to vote in a presidential election.

But first, they need to register to vote. Here are some tips to make the process a little bit easier.

Requirements for voting

Each state’s registration requirements vary, but in general, you must be a U.S. citizen and at least 18 years old on the day of the election.

Some states require residents to live in the state for a certain amount of time. Texas is not one of those states.

When registering, TCU students can choose between their college address, including a dorm room, or their permanent address in their home state. However, post offices boxes are not valid.

Additionally, most states have registration deadlines — typically 15 to 30 days prior to an election. In some cases, people can register online. If not, a registration form can be mailed to the state if postmarked by the deadline.

In Texas, voters must register at least 30 days prior to an election. The last day to mail in a registration form to vote in the March 1 Texas primary is Feb. 1.

How to register to vote

Vote USA guides people through the registration process for each state. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia offer online registration. The form asks for information such as birth date, physical address and driver’s license number.

Texas does not offer online registration. Here are the Texas-specific guidelines to complete the general application below:

  • ID Number. You must provide your driver’s license number to register to vote. If you do not have a driver’s license then you will have to provide at least the last four digits of your social security number. If you have neither, write “NONE” on the form.
  • Choice of Party. You do not have to register with a party if you want to take part in that party’s primary election, caucus, or convention.
  • Race or Ethnic Group: Leave blank.
  • Residency: You must be a resident of the county in which the application for registration is made (students can register using their college address)

Absentee Ballots

Students who will be on campus during their state’s primary date can request an absentee ballot be mailed to them to participate in local elections in addition to the presidential primary. Once filled out, the ballot is returned by mail.

The Texas absentee ballot can be downloaded from the state’s election website. To request an absentee ballot for another state, visit the Election Assistance Commission website.

When to vote

Voting season kicks off Feb. 1 with the Iowa Caucus. The first primary is Feb. 9 in New Hampshire.

There is also Super Tuesday, March 1, which has the most states, including Texas, voting on a single day.

Early voting in Texas occurs Feb. 16 through Feb. 26. Anyone who is registered can participate in early voting.

Who to vote for

The site offers a free quiz to help people decide which candidates they should vote for. The quiz asks users their opinions on a range of political issues and then at the end calculates how much the user’s views line up with each of the candidates.