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  1. The United States Constitution
  2. Legislative Branch
  3. Executive Branch
  4. The Judicial Branch
  5. Voting
  6. Political Parties
  7. State and Local Government
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man standing in front of voting machine screen.
A man votes using an electronci voting machine in the 2004 presidential election. Electronic voting machines are becoming more common in the US.
Photo courtesy of the United States Census Bureau. Phot by Hubert Dobson.
Election day is an important occasion for many American adults. Americans must be U.S. citizens and 18 years old to vote in elections. Each state has slightly different voting requirements. Usually voters must register before election day and they need to be a resident of the community where the election takes place. Polling places are held in a variety of places, such as schools, churches, and community centers. Many Americans get the day off of work to exercise this important right. Americans have the opportunity to vote in many different elections including Presidential elections, gubernatorial elections, congressional elections, and mayoral elections. Presidential elections take place in November every four years. Senators serve for six years, but a third of the Senate is elected every two years. Although the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 in 1971, the number of young Americans who vote continues to decline. Less than half of the eligible 18 to 24 year olds vote. While voting today is quite easy if you meet the eligibility requirements, historically voting was difficult for many Americans including minorities and women. Gender and race, along with poll taxes, literacy tests, and land ownership requirements excluded many from voting until numerous constitutional amendments were ratified to expand the electorate. For example, the 19th Amendment, which was ratified in 1920, gave women the right to vote. Today, 65% of eligible females vote, while only 62% of eligible males vote.
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