How to Register Your 18-Year-Old Child to Vote for the First Time

Individuals younger than 18 years old can register themselves to vote and this election procedure is called pre-registration. The legal voting age for federal and state election in the United States is 18 and, once they reach this age, they are eligible to cast their vote!

Whether you’re handing off the reigns to your kid to take charge of the registration process themselves or staying by their side throughout each step, below is just about everything you need to know to get the ball rolling.

New Voter Pre-Registration

With a pre-registration or pending status, new voters would be added to the voter registration list just by filling out an application form. And upon turning eighteen the person will be able to cast his or her first ballot.

Now pre-registration depends on voters’ age. Some allow 17 years old to pre-register while others have set the criteria of 16 years. There are some states who have no specific age restriction for pre-registration. In some states, a 17-year-old can cast a ballot in the primary election if and only if he or she will turn 18 before the general election.

States that permit preregistration at age of 16:

Rhode Island, Utah, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, and Oregon.

States that permit preregistration at age of 17:

New Jersey, West Virginia, Maine, and Nevada,

States that have different preregistration age criteria:

  • In Alaska, voter under 18 can register within 90 days before turning 18th.
  • 17.5 is the age criteria for preregistration in Iowa, Missouri, and Georgia.
  • Texas permits 10 months of age for preregistration.

States that have no specific age restriction:

There are some states that have no specific age criteria and one can register for next election right after the previous one even at the age of 16. For further details about pre-registration age, reach out to officials of the state election.

There is no pre-registration prior to the election in North Dakota. And one can only register after turning 18.

Who Can Register To Vote?

One is eligible to register for the vote in federal elections if:

  1. A person who is 18 years of age
  2. A legal citizenor natural born citizen of the United States of America
  3. A person who meets their state’s residency requirements

Voting requirements for local state elections vary from state to state. Check out this state voting requirement resource to find out the rules in your local state (we can’t guarantee the accuracy of this site, so always check with your local municipalities to confirm.)

How To Cast The First Ballot

The process of casting vote is not as complicated as we presume. By following a few basic steps we can easily register our self and can cast our vote. At state and federal level there are countless resources that can answer your queries and guide the people who are unfamiliar with the process. Here are six simple steps you need to know if you want to cast a vote.

Registration: States and territories have different requirements for registration at a local level. In many states, one can register online following a link, in person or via paper only when they are a qualified voter. They can also register for absentee voting, in case they need to go out of state on the day of voting.

Research Candidate of Political Parties: An informed voter is the one who selects an eligible candidate, unaffected by party propaganda and without relying on media coverage and paid promotions. This knowledgeable decision asks you to do extensive research before supporting someone with your vote. First-time voters must go through the comprehensive guidelines to become an informed voter.

Know The Issue: An informed voter must be aware of the current issues of the state and country that is at stake, as well as have clarity on their individual stance on these issues. On the occasion of any sort of election, be it city council election or presidential, understanding ones own personal values and principles about the way the government should operate is really at the core of being able to choose candidates that align with ones beliefs.

Check Rules And Regulations of State: On Election Day even busy people can ample time to cast a ballot because voting stations are open for 12 hours at least. According to federal law, first-time voters must submit a pay stub, photo id, bill, or government document showing their current address and full name. In some states, all voters are required to bring a photo ID in order to cast a vote.

Find Your Polling Station: Polling stations are assigned by state election depending on the voter’s current address. You can find your station either on in the search tool or you can directly contact the election office for details. You can also use ‘’get to the polls’’ to see find your polling station.

Cast Your Vote: Gone are the days when you need to feel frustrated because of delayed results. Now states have introduced an electronic voting system, which uses a touch screen or optical scanning that makes voting painless and getting results faster than ever before.

You can also check the machine at the polling station of your state. Gizmodo gives you a list of the type of machine and states so the first time voters can save their time can feel knowledgeable and confident.