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Civic Literacy and Engagement: Voter Registration

Types of Elections

Primary elections, or direct primary - These elections narrow the field. Candidates within the same political party run against one another, and voters nominate the candidates that will represent their party in an upcoming general election, local election, or by-election.

General elections - These elections determine the winner(s). All or most members of a political body are chosen. In the U.S., general elections typically involve two opposing parties, they generally occur every two to six years, and the elected typically serves a four-year term. General elections take place at federal, state, and local levels. 

Federal elections - These include national-level presidential and congressional elections (Senate and House of Representatives). 

State elections - Officials such as Governor and Attorney General are elected at the state level.

Municipal elections, or local elections - Office-holders in local government, such as mayors and school board members are chosen locally.

By-election, or special election - Used to fill an office that has become vacant between general elections.

Tribal elections - Tribal governments vary widely from one to another. Officials are usually chosen through elections by tribal members. They can be held in conjunction with other elections, but are often independent, under a given tribe's election office.

State Primary Election Types - (NCSL)

The laws governing state primaries are complex and nuanced to say the least, and state primary laws have been a cause of confusion among voters and election administrators alike. The manner in which party primary elections are conducted varies widely from state to state. Primaries can be categorized as either closedpartially closedpartially open, open to unaffiliated votersopen or top-two.

Get Ready to Vote

Step One:

Register to vote.

If you are a UW student living in Wyoming and eligible to vote, you can register and vote here in Laramie. It does not matter whether you are considered an in-state student and your financial aid and taxes will not be affected

You may also have the option to vote absentee in your "home" state. Remember you can only be registered and vote in one location. Go to Campus Vote Project to find information for your state.

Depending on your state's voter registration laws, you may be required to register up to 30 days before Election Day. Check your county clerk's website for registration options such as an online or mail-in application or by applying in person.

Step Two:

Decide your voting method.

1) Vote in person at your polling location on Election Day.

2) Vote early in your county. This is a more flexible option, but you still have to vote in person.

3) Vote absentee. This is the most convenient and practical mode for college students, who live away from home but still want to participate in the democratic process.

Change Parties

To change or to declare a new party affiliation for the primary election, complete the Wyoming Voter Registration Application & Change Form and submit it to your county clerk's office no later than the day before the candidate filing period begins, which is 96 days prior to the day of the primary election. You cannot change parties the day of the primary election.

To change or to declare a new party affiliation for the general election, complete the Wyoming Voter Registration Application & Change Form and submit it to your county clerk’s office no later than 14 days before the general election. You may also change your party affiliation at your polling place on the day of the general election, or when requesting an absentee ballot.

Step Three:

Learn about the candidates running for office. Develop informed judgments based on several sources. Which candidate(s) speaks to your values and opinions?

Step Four:

Get involved in the legislative process. Volunteer to be part of the democratic community through UW's SLCE office or by serving as an election judge.