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Are there limits (age, crime,...) for participation in US elections (Congress, president,...), for people who vote or for candidates?

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Candidates

State, county, and municipal election candidate restrictions are set by those bodies. Federal restrictions are as follows:

House of Representatives (from Article 1 Section 2 of the constitution):

  • Must be residents of the state for which they seek election.
  • Must be at least twenty-five.
  • Must have been a citizen of the USA for at least seven years.

Senate (from Article 1 Section 3 of the constitution):

  • Must be residents of the state for which they seek election.
  • Must be at least thirty.
  • Must have been a citizen of the USA for at least nine years.

President and Vice-President (from Article 2 Section 1 of the constitution):

  • Must be at least thirty-five.
  • Must be a natural-born citizen.
  • Must have been a resident of the USA for at least fourteen years.

Voters

Voters must be at least eighteen, USA citizens, and residents of the voting district.

States may add additional requirements. For example, some states take away voting rights for felony convictions. Some states require photo identification. States may require registration in advance of voting.

Some elections may be limited to just members of a particular party. For example, in some states, only registered Republicans and Democrats can vote in their respective primaries.

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  • thank you Brythan. Which states "only registered Republicans and Democrats can vote"? – user 1 Apr 11 '16 at 5:45
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    @user1- That's just in the primaries. I believe those are controlled by the parties themselves, and the parties aren't bound by the vote. – PointlessSpike Apr 11 '16 at 8:14
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    @user1 For example, in Maryland someone registers as a Republican or a Democrat and is given a ballot for the appropriate party in the primary election. This helps choose the candidates who will represent the parties in the general election (in which any eligible voter can choose whoever he wants). – sabbahillel Apr 11 '16 at 15:58
  • Note that who can vote in a primary is determined by the party, not the state, so in some states, only one party restricts who can vote. For instance, in California, only registered Republicans can vote in the Republican primary, but anyone can vote in the Democratic primary (as long as they are not voting in the Republican one) – Gort the Robot Apr 11 '16 at 19:47
  • The state still determines whether or not the party has the ability to choose to allow people not registered to the party to vote. California gave the parties that choice. Other states don't have to do so. Note that California does not give the parties that choice in non-presidential primaries. Other than for President, California has non-partisan primaries. – Brythan Apr 12 '16 at 4:15

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