Registering Special Populations

Formerly Incarcerated or have a Felony Conviction?

An individual who has been formerly incarcerated or has a felony conviction may still be able to register to vote.  Check out the "Restore Your Vote" website to find out the regulations in your area. To learn more about felony disenfranchisement laws check out the American Civil Liberties Union website.

Experiencing Homelessness or Couch Surfing?

An individual without a fixed nighttime address may still register to vote. Often times, you can put down the mailing address of a shelter, library or community agency to verify voter status. To learn more about registering to vote those experiencing homelessness check out the "You Don't Need a Home to Vote Campaign" by the National Alliance for the Homeless.

Serving in the Military or Living Overseas?

Service members, their families and overseas citizens can register to vote and request an absentee ballot by filling out the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) and sending it to their election office in their state of legal residence. The election office may approve, deny or request additional clarifying information. Once the FPCA is approved, the election office will send an absentee ballot, which the voter completes and returns to their election office by their state's deadline. To access the Federal Post Card Application and to learn more, check out the Federal Voting Assistance Program website.

Are you a Veteran? The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs allows for federal employees to assist VA clients and patients with registering to vote and acquiring absentee ballots. These activities must be nonpartisan. In addition, VA facilities may allow outside organizations to conduct nonpartisan voter registration and absentee ballot application activities. Each VA hospital is required to establish written policies outlining criteria for evaluating outside organizations' requests.

For more information, please visit the VA’s website for information about the VA policy in particular or the U.S. Office of Special Counsel’s website for information regarding the Hatch Act more broadly.

Living in a Nursing Home or Long-Term Care Facility?

Individuals who are living in nursing homes or long-term care (LTC) facilities may not be denied the right to vote. Staff at nursing homes and LTC facilities may conduct nonpartisan voter registration activities. While residents may not be medically cleared to leave the facility to vote, facilities in some states can utilize mobile polling, also known as supervised absentee voting. To learn more voting at a LTC facility check out the National Conference of State Legislatures website.   To learn more about requesting an absentee ballot check out our Order an Absentee Ballot page.

Speak a Language other than English?

Individuals who do not speak English as their primary language have the right to register to vote and to cast their vote in their native language if they live in qualifying jurisdictions defined by Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act.

A jurisdiction is covered if the number of United States citizens of voting age in a single language group within the jurisdiction:

  • Is more than 10,000, or
  • Is more than five percent of all voting age citizens, or
  • On an Indian reservation, exceeds five percent of all reservation residents; and
  • The illiteracy rate of the group is higher than the national illiteracy rate.

Qualified jurisdictions must make all voting materials that are available in English also available in the language of the identified single language group(s). This includes voter registration cards, absentee ballots and election day ballots.  Individuals who live in jurisdictions that are not covered may get assistance with voting similar to individuals with a disability.

Survivors of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Stalking or Risk of Injury to a Minor

Keeping survivors' information safe and private is a priority.  Address Confidentiality Programs (ACP) and Confidential Voter Listings are programs administered by states that enable survivors of intimate partner violence (and sometimes victims of sexual assault and/or stalking) to register and vote without fear of being located by their abusers.  Address Confidentiality Programs provide survivors with a substitute address for all public records. Confidential Voter Listings only provide confidentiality on election-related public records.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence provides a State by State Chart of Address and Voter Protection Programs.  For more information on ACPs and Confidential Voter Listings in your state contact your local elections officials or your state's Attorney General office.

For a deeper understanding of the barriers survivors face in exercising their right to vote, we suggest this article, "Obstacles to Voting for Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence" by the Center for American Progress.