You must register to vote in the state that you live in if you wish to cast a ballot in an upcoming election. How often you must complete voter registration in order to remain an active voter will depend on the state that you reside in. Before you can register and take part in an upcoming election, you must first meet eligibility requirements. Some of these requirements will remain the same throughout the United States while states retain the right to add additional requirements.

After completing or changing registration, a voter registration card will be mailed to you. This card can contain numerous pieces of information, but the information that is listed on the card will depend on your state. Should you lose the card, it is important to inquire whether or not it is needed to vote and how you can request a replacement.

Who can register to vote?

Before learning how to register to vote, it is important to learn when you are required to do so and who is eligible to complete registration and vote. Every state within the United States, with the exception of North Dakota, will require you to complete registration before you will be eligible to vote. To learn about specific voter registration requirements in your state, visit your state-specific page below:

Select a state to begin:
Select a state to begin:

Voter registration can generally be completed, so long as you:

  • Are a citizen of the United States.
  • Meet your state’s residency requirements.
  • Will be at least 18 years of age on or before the Election Day.
  • Are registered to vote by the deadline that is set by your state.

It is worth knowing that, in some states, individuals with felony convictions that have not regained voting privileges will be ineligible to register. Furthermore, if you were ruled mentally incapacitated by a court, your state may not allow you to register.

You may have trouble completing voter registration due to state or local laws if:

  • You do not have the type of photo ID that is required by your state, if applicable.
  • You did not change voter registration after changing your name or address.

Therefore, it is important to learn more about your state and local laws regarding registration and voting.

Voter Registration Deadline

If you are wondering, “Am I registered to vote?” then it is important that you verify whether or not you are and register to vote before the registration deadline if you are not registered. As mentioned previously, every state except for North Dakota will require you to complete registration before you will be permitted to vote. Each state sets its own deadline for registration, which could be as much as a month before the Election Day.

How to Register to Vote

If you are wondering how to register to vote, it is important to know that registration methods will differ depending on the state that you are registering in. In every state, you are permitted to register in person at your state or local election office. Furthermore, many states offer a variety of public facilities that you can complete registration at, including, but not limited to:

  • The department of motor vehicles.
  • Public assistance offices, such as SNAP and WIC offices.
  • County libraries.
  • County clerk offices.

You can register to vote online in 37 states as well as the District of Columbia. For states that do offer online registration, you may be required to submit documentation supporting your identity or address, such as a driver’s license. Most states will also offer mail in registration options.

Early Voting

After determining how to register to vote, it is important to learn whether or not your state permits early voting. Early voting is permitted in 37 states and the District of Columbia. However, the dates and requirements for early voting varies by state. Some states will only permit early voting if you will be outside of the state or country during Election Day while others permit early voting to anyone who is eligible to vote. Each state that permits early voting will set a range of dates in which early voting is allowed.

Voter Registration for Active Duty Military and Out-of-State Residents

Voter registration is different for active duty military members and individuals who are out of state or country during the election. For active duty military members and their families, you may complete registration using the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). This is a temporary registration that lasts one year that will not only register you, but send you an absentee ballot so that you need not appear on Election Day or during early voting.

States regulate whether or not out of state or out of country residents will be permitted to obtain an absentee ballot. For example, some states will only provide absentee ballots to individuals who will be out of the country, not out of the state, during the Election Day and early voting period.

Voter Registration for Absentee Voting

After you complete voter registration, it is worth knowing whether or not you are eligible for absentee voting in your state. This is a process that allows you to cast a ballot by mail. Your state will determine eligibility requirements for absentee voting. In some states, all eligible voters are allowed to vote by mail while other states may limit absentee voting to individuals who will be outside of the state or country on Election Day or individuals who are disabled or unable to visit a polling place in person.

Voter Registration Cards

Whenever you complete a voter registration change of address, name change or you complete registration for the first time, your state election office will send you a registration card. This card may contain numerous information, depending on your state, but may include information, such as:

  • Your name.
  • Your address.
  • Your party affiliation.

If you are wondering, “Where do I vote?” it is important to know that this card may include this information. If it does not, you can contact your state election office to find your polling place. Most states will require that each voter casts their ballot at the voting place assigned to them in order for a ballot to be counted.

How to Change Your Voter Registration

It is important to change a voter registration address or name after you move or complete a legal name change. Failing to do so could interfere with your ability to vote on Election Day. Therefore, it is important to learn how you can change your registration in your state. For most states, you will be permitted to submit a change in the same way that you can complete initial registration. For example, if a state allows you to register online, you will likely be permitted to submit a change online, as well.

How to Replace a Lost Voter Registration Card

If your voter registration card becomes lost or damaged, you may be required to request a replacement. Not all states will require that you present this card when casting a ballot, but some do. Therefore, it is important to learn about the laws regarding registration cards in your state. If you need a replacement, you can generally request a duplicate card from your state’s election office.

Last updated on Thursday, October 15 2020.