5 Ways You Can Register to Vote in Less Than 5 Minutes

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Not registered to vote? Time is running out. On Tuesday, November 6, U.S. citizens will have the opportunity to vote in hundreds of Congressional, gubernatorial, state, and local races, but most states require residents to register well before Election Day. If you’re super busy, rest assured—getting authorized to cast your ballot doesn’t need to be a tedious or time-consuming process. Once you’ve confirmed your local deadline, consider one of the simple registration tactics below.

1. CLICK ON A GOOGLE DOODLE.

National Voter Registration Day falls on September 25, 2018, and Google has rolled out a special new Doodle to celebrate the occasion. Click on the image, and you’ll be led to a Google search page for “how to register to vote,” with information on requirements for your state and links to sites that can help you register, like USAGov and Rock the Vote.

2. LOG IN TO INSTAGRAM …

This year, Instagram has partnered with TurboVote, a voter registration app by the nonprofit Democracy Works, to help voters look up their state’s voting rules, register, and update their information. When you see one of the ads in your Instagram Feed or Stories, swipe up, and you’ll be led to TurboVote’s mobile webpage to register.

Once Election Day comes, Instagram will also have a special “I Voted” sticker that you can use in your own posts. When your followers click on the sticker, they’ll be taken to Get to the Polls, a site where they can find out where their local polling place is located.

3. ... OR SNAPCHAT.

Beginning September 25, U.S. Snapchat users who are 18 years or older can access voter registration information directly from their profile pages. When you click on your profile, you'll see a link to TurboVote on prompting you to register to vote. The message will also appear on the Snapchat Discover page and on the company's own Story. Tap the link and you’ll be taken to the TurboVote mobile site, where you can enter in your info and get started. If you want to share your registration status, you can use the special National Voter Registration Day filter on your posts.

4. CHECK TWITTER.

Twitter is teaming up with TurboVote to get in on the election action, too. As part of the social network’s #BeAVoter campaign, when you log in to the site, you will see a prompt at the top of your timeline asking you if you've registered—and if you have, asking you to tweet about it. You’ll also see promoted tweets from @TwitterGov encouraging you to register. Click on either the timeline prompt or the promoted tweets and you’ll be taken to TurboVote’s site to complete the process.

5. SEND A TEXT OR FACEBOOK MESSAGE.

Thanks to HelloVote—which bills itself as the first text message-based voter registration tool—you can now register to vote by text as well. Just text HELLO to (844) 344-3556 or go to m.me/hellovote in Facebook Messenger. The bot will ask you a series of questions to help you register. If your state allows instant registration, HelloVote will submit the electronic paperwork for you based on your answers. If not, don’t sweat it. You’ll receive the form in the mail along with a pre-addressed stamped envelope. Sign it, send it in to your local Board of Elections, and voila!—you’re all set to vote this November.

What Happens to Leftover Campaign Funds When a Candidate Drops Out?

After nearly one year of campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination, Kamala Harris has officially bowed out of the 2020 election. She's not the only would-be president to call it quits so far. So what happens to all the leftover campaign funds when a candidate drops out?

One thing's for sure: Upset candidates can't console themselves by putting the dough toward a new yacht and sailing off to recuperate. The Federal Election Commission has strict rules about what federal candidates can and can't do with leftover campaign money, and the biggest directive is that they can't pocket it for personal use.

Here's what a campaign committee is allowed to do with any lingering cash: it can donate the funds to charities or political parties; it can contribute $2000 per election to other candidates; and it can save the money in case the candidate chooses to run again. However, those regulations don't apply to the relatively new super PACs (Political Action Committees); this is only the third election where they have played a role, and there are currently no rules to stipulate what happens to that money beyond that it cannot go to fund another federal candidate. Much of that money tends to be returned to its original donors, used to wrap up the failed campaign, or donated to back a state-level candidate. The goal, however, is always to spend all of that money.

Running a campaign is an expensive proposition—Barack Obama spent nearly $750 million on his 2008 White House bid, and in 2012 he spent $985 million on reelection while challenger Mitt Romney spent $992 million—and insufficient cash is often a reason campaigns go belly up.

As for winning (or sometimes losing) politicians, they'll often put their leftover funds toward their next race. If they choose not to run, they have to abide by the same FEC rules. Wonder why this law is in effect? Until 1993, U.S. Representatives who took office before January 8, 1980, were allowed to keep any leftover campaign cash when they retired, but a study showed that a third of Congress kept and spent millions in campaign donations on personal items like clothing, jewelry, artwork, personal travel, and dry cleaning. Embarrassed, Congress passed a law negating this custom for the House; the Senate already had provisions in place so this wouldn't happen.

In reality though, officials can usually find a way to make that cash still work for them (and state laws differ from federal ones). After Chris Christie won reelection as New Jersey's governor in 2014, his campaign was granted permission to use some of its remaining war chest to cover the legal fees Christie incurred during the Bridgegate scandal. And this was well before he dropped $26.7 million on his failed 2016 presidential bid.

An earlier version of this article originally ran in 2012.

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