Student Voting Guide | Additional Information

August 31, 2010


The original guide was authored by Renée Paradis, Sara Conrath, and Mimi Franke with assistance from Laura Seago and Jennifer Rosenber.  The 2010 updates were performed by Amanda Rolat and Wendy Weiser.

Color Coding on Map

What does the color of an icon mean?

  • Green: Laws are relatively student-friendly. It should not be difficult for you to comply.
  • Yellow: Proceed with caution. Standards are not impossible to meet, but you may need to take a few extra steps. You should read your state's complete write-up for more information, links provided here.
  • Red: Laws are very restrictive. It’s a good idea to start early, read the rules carefully, and even be prepared for challenges. You should definitely read your state's complete write-up for more information, links provided here.


From the fall of 2007 through the spring of 2008, students with the Brennan Center’s Public Policy Advocacy Clinic, under the supervision of Brennan Center staff attorneys, conducted an in-depth survey of voter residency, registration, identification, and absentee voting requirements in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For each state, students reviewed all relevant constitutional provisions, statutes, court cases, and Attorney Generals’ opinions.

After preparing initial legal memos for each state, clinic students, along with Brennan Center legal interns and research associates, conducted telephone interviews with election officials in each state, asking a series of questions to clarify the law as it pertains to student voters. The questions asked during these interviews were:


NOTE: Many voter identification laws have recently been introduced across the country.  Please reference Voter ID Legislation in the States for information about identification requirements that your state may have enacted since this guide's 2010 update.

  • Do student IDs satisfy your state's Help America Vote Act (HAVA) requirements?
  • Do student IDs satisfy other state ID requirements?
  • What must be on the face of the student ID for it to be accepted as qualifying ID?
  • Do cell phone bills satisfy HAVA or other state ID laws?
  • What, if any, online print-outs of utility bills satisfy HAVA or other state ID laws?
  • Do student housing bills satisfy HAVA or other state ID laws?


  • What policies, if any, does the state have concerning students claiming in-state residency for voting purposes?
  • What is your residency policy with regards to students who plan to lave their school community after graduation but do not have specific plans?
  • What is your residency policy with regards to students who do not have definite plans after graduation?

After reviewing initial research and telephone survey responses, a Brennan Center attorney prepared summaries of each state’s guidelines and practices. Each summary was then distributed by e-mail to telephone survey respondents or other officials determined by that state’s election officials to be the most appropriate individual to review material for a published report. Officials were given three weeks to comment on the summaries and correct any erroneous or incomplete information. We received responses from 42 states and the District of Columbia. Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, and Wisconsin did not respond to the opportunity for review, and three states, Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, expressly declined to review the information and interpretations contained within the guide.

State summaries were updated based on the comments received from election officials, and were subject to final review by another Brennan Center attorney prior to publication.

Legal & Tax Disclaimer

The Legal Guide to Student Voting is provided for informational purposes only and does not contain legal advice or services. Although the Student Voter Guide offers information concerning potential legal issues, it is not a substitute for legal advice from qualified counsel.

Nothing contained in the Student Voter Guide is intended to be or should be relied upon as tax advice. In accordance with IRS Circular 230, the information contained in the Student Voter Guide cannot be used or considered a "covered opinion" or other written tax advice and cannot be relied upon for the purpose of avoiding tax-related penalties under the Internal Revenue Code, or any applicable state or local tax law.


The Legal Guide to Student Voting uses legal terms commonly used in state and federal laws. To help students, we created a glossary of these oft-used terms. Click here.


The Brennan Center thanks the following individuals and firms for their invaluable assistance in researching and verifying the information contained on this site: Tom C.W. Lin at Davis Polk & Wardwell; Nika Aldrich at DLA Piper; Avery Wentzel at Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP; Jason Sauer at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates; Karen Neuman at Fair Elections Legal Network, and Claire Webb at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP.

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