Suppose your 18th birthday is one day after the election.

A presidential election. And you’re psyched about the idea of voting. You can’t legally drink for another three years, and the calendar has no say in when you lose your virginity, but you can go into that voting booth as a child, and come out as the Youth of America.

Except that your birthday is on a Wednesday this year.

And you really want to vote in this presidential election. You know you won’t leave any chads hanging, and you want to “forget” to take that “I voted” sticker off your purse or backpack for a few days. It’s only one day, right? They don’t close the polls till after midnight, so your vote will be valid by the time it’s over!

Would they let you do that? If you had two forms of ID (and maybe a parent) when you hashed it out with the County Clerk or whoever, before the day of the election?

You have to register to vote in advance, and you can’t get registered unless your birthday is whatever number of days before the election.

Correction: Your 18th birthday has to be on or before election day, and you have to register at least 15 days in advance. You only have to register once, unless you move or change your name. If you are unregistered, your name won’t be on the list at the polls and they won’t let you vote, no matter how old you are.

I see. Thank you.

I wonder, though, if an impassioned plea would have any effect?

I was born 8:28am HST election day 1974. I voted 7:00am (first guy in) election day 1992 in Mountain or Central. So I voted before the Earth had made 18 full years had passed. Luckily they let me round up those last few house.

Some places are lowering voter ages though. And others have “ballots” for children to fill out. Your vote doesn’t count but you still get to have your say.


Actually, it says that you must “be 18 years of age”. Under the English common law standard, which I believe is followed by every U.S. state except Louisiana, you turn a year older the day before your birthday. Therefore, if your 18th birthday is the day after Election Day, then you turned aged 18 a day earlier, in this case on Election Day, so you can go ahead and vote with a clear conscience.

Another interesting tidbit, at least many moons ago in Virginia, is that 17 year-olds can vote in the primaries which are part of an election which will take place after they turn 18.

My mother’s 21st birthday (back in the days when 21 was the voting age) was the day after election day. Despite her protests, they did not allow her to vote.

Zev Steinhardt

They’ve got to set a rigid cutoff somewhere … If they start letting people vote the day before their 18th birthday, the next thing they’ll see is people wanting to vote two days before-“If I’d been born only a few hours later, I’d be eligible under the ‘One Day’ principle!”-etc.

Laws need to have specific, clearly determinable standards for their application. If the voting/drinking/driving qualifications were subject to the judgment of the registrar/liquor store clerk/licensor, the laws would be virtually unenforcible. (Not to mention the statutory rape laws. “Your honor, she looked eighteen to me! And she was acting real grown-up!” “OK. Case dismissed.”)

Primaries aren’t exactly the government doing the election, although the government is helping run them. It’s really the membership of the political parties polling their members to determine whom said membership will advance in the actual election.

Take a gander at the party conventions: the territories have voting representation there.

My 21st birthday was the day after Election Day in 1996. I got to vote, of course, because the voting age is 18. However, my grandmother noted on the birthday card she sent me how unfortunate it was that I just missed being able to vote that year.

No, I didn’t write back and tell her that the voting age has been 18 since before I was born!

According to the Election FAQ I found for the Pittsburgh area, although whitetho is correct that “a voter becomes of age on the day before his eighteenth birthday,” one is only allowed to register to vote if his or her birthday is “the day of the election or before.” This indicates to me that you need to become of age before Election Day in order to vote.

Do they really not close the polls until after midnight in California?

>> I wonder, though, if an impassioned plea would have any effect?
>> Laws need to have specific, clearly determinable standards for their application

Yeah, it would be difficult to determine if a plea is impassioned enough. OTOH, if she takes her clothes off and dances nekkid for a few minutes, that’s impassioned enough for me and I say let her vote.

No, polls close at 8:00 p.m.

If you turn 18 before elections but after the primaries, you can still vote in the primaries.

Or at least I did. Perhaps I’m a felon now.

That may be true for California, but I’d like to add a clarification for those who may not be aware that registration deadlines vary by state. It’s usually 20-30 days before the election. In a handful of states, registration is permitted on the day of the election at the polling place. I live in New Hampshire, so when I go to sing-in and cast my vote, there is a separate line for new voters. Although usually small, the line snaked out the door during the Nov 2000 election.

These states allow registration at the polls:
New Hampshire

Here’s a voter registration FAQ from the Federal Election Commission that explains the various registration procedures and lists deadlines by state.

Not entirely true. Many states you can register to vote right there at the polls on election day. It’s called the Motor Voter Law.
All polls close at 8p.m. local time, so if you’re not 18 on the date of the election you are sol. Vote next year.

I was answering for California, since I saw that Rilchiam lives in the wrong part of my state. :wink:

It happened to me - turned 18 a day too late in '88. Though I think the most annoying part was having to explain over and over why I hadn’t voted.

Then in '98 I went to vote and noticed whispering about my birthdate…apparently someone got a little confused about the year and thought I was about to turn 18 instead of 28. That still cracks me up.

This is a pain I know all too well. My 18th birthday is August 7, and our State Democratic Convention (important because you need 15% of all delegate votes to be on the ballot) is July 22-23. This means I can’t become a delegate even though the vice chairwoman of my town’s Democratic Party (which is in charge of selecting delegates) was a major proponent of mine. At least the primary is September 10.

Actually, registration at the polls on election day is a Wisconsin state law, not a federal requirement. According to the League of Women Voters this is what the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 requires:

The bill became known as the motor-voter law because it required the states to allow people to register to vote at the same time they applied for a driver’s license.