You Can Vote If You Turn 18 On Election Day, But..

We're told our entire lives that the best and most important thing about turning 18 is the ability to vote, so, if 2016 is your first year as an 18 year old, I bet you're getting pretty amped up right now. But can you vote if your 18th birthday is on Election Day? Turning 18 in an election year brings its own challenges, because it means that you have to be pretty informed in order to exercise your rights as a citizen. Luckily, the short answer to this important question is yes, you can. As long as you are 18 on or by Nov. 8, you are legally allowed to vote. Now let's get into the long answer.

If your birthday falls on Election Day itself, don't assume you can just walk into a voting booth and cast your ballot. You have to make sure you're registered first, and that's something that takes a little more planning. The good news is that, in many states, you can register before your actual birthday as long as you'll be of-age by the next election. In Florida, for example, you can pre-register at age 16, even though you have to wait another two years to vote. Texas allows you to register up to two months before your 18th birthday. In Virginia, you can register in advance once you turn 17, and even vote in any primaries or special elections that crop up in the interim. Hell, in North Dakota, you don't even need to register; once you turn 18, you can just show up to vote.

So, while it's generally safe to assume that you can vote even if your birthday falls on Election Day, this is an important election year. It's not safe to assume anything. Better to get informed and know what's what, so that you aren't caught up in all the red tape by the time your special day — and our special day as a nation — rolls around.

North Dakota and states like it aside, anyone turning 18 on Nov. 8 should investigate the voter registration laws for their state. Rock The Vote is a great, informative site with all the minutiae of registering to vote in each separate state clearly laid. Take a look at what the deal is for your home state, and make sure that your voice will be heard come Election Day, you brand-new adult, you.

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