Politics

How Do I Register to Vote?

Registering to vote can be intimidating, but it shouldn’t be... which is why we set up this guide to walk you through what you need to do.

A few important things to know:

  1. If you want to vote in an election, you have to be registered.
  2. You have to register ahead of your state's deadline. Deadlines vary for each state, so see the list below.
  3. Election laws vary from state to state. We go into detail for each state below.

Important dates:

For those of you who need to register to vote, here is a step-by-step guide through the process.

  1. Go to http://www.ourtime.org/vote and enter your basic information

Step #1. Enter your basic information

  1. Step #2 varies from state-to-state.

States shown in blue or gray: In the 30 states shown below in blue or gray, you must fill out a short form with a little more information (your address, birthday, and ID number). After you’re done, you will need to print your form, sign it, and mail it to the address given to you.

States shown in white: In the 20 states shown in white, you can register to vote online, which means you don’t need to print and mail anything (lucky you!).

  1. For the states shown in blue or gray above, step #2 is very simple. Here’s a screenshot (you only need to fill out the fields in the left column):

Step #2. Voter Registration Form

After you complete the form you have the option of emailing it to yourself or downloading a PDF.

Either way, you will need to print your form, sign the Voter Registration Application page, and mail the Voter Registration Application page to the address shown on the postcard that downloads with your form.

  1. For the states shown in white, you will be directed to your state’s online voter registration form.

NOTE:  If you run into any problems while registering, there are experts standing by to answer your questions at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1866-687-8683). You can also contact your Secretary of State’s office (click here to find your state’s contact info).

  1. Once you have completed your registration form, be sure to remind your friends and family to register as well.

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Here are answers to some common voter registration questions:

Do I have to register to vote again if I’ve registered before?

If you have changed your address since the last time you registered, then yes¸ you will need to register to vote. If you previously registered to vote and have not moved since you registered, you should still be registered to vote.

Can I register the day of the election?

Twelve states allow you to register on Election Day at the polls.

  • Those states are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

In order to use “Same Day Voter Registration” you need proof of residency. A current driver's license or ID card is preferred. Some states accept a paycheck or utility bill with an address – and a few states allow a voter who is already registered vouch for the residency of a voter who would like to use Same Day Voter Registration. Click here for more information

Where do I go on Election Day?

Click here to find your polling place

What do I need to bring on Election Day?

Every state is slightly different in its Election Day ID requirements. You should bring a driver’s license with you just to be on the safe side. If you don’t have a driver’s license, just contact the experts at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1866-687-8683) or contact your Secretary of State here.

What is a Voter ID?

Some states require you to bring a “voter ID” with you. Your “voter ID” card will come to you in the mail after you register to vote. In addition to your “voter ID” you will receive information telling you where your polling place is and what you need to bring with you on Election Day.

What if I never got my “voter ID card” in the mail or I lost it before the election?

This is nothing to worry about! Not all states send out voter cards, so if you don’t receive something in the mail you can always call your state’s office and double check you are registered. Click here to find the contact info for your state’s Secretary of State office. This card includes your polling place address on it, so make sure to double check your polling place the night before the election!

What time do polling sites open and close?

In all states, polling places generally open between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., and they close between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Each state varies slightly in its polling hours. Click here to check on your state’s Secretary of State Web site for this information.

Can I still vote if I’m in the armed forces or living abroad?

Yes. Contact the Federal Voting Assistance Program (http://www.fvap.gov or 800-438-VOTE) or visit the Overseas Vote Foundation for more details.

If I want to vote in the primary elections, when do I have to be registered?

The deadlines vary from state to state. Your registration deadline may be 30 days before the day of the primary, or you may you may be able to register the day you vote.

Who is on the ballot?

Once we’re close to the election, you can see who’s on your ballot by clicking here

Questions?

If you have a question about voter registration or are unsure of something, we strongly recommend you contact your Secretary of State (click here to find their contact info) or call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1866-687-8683).

Can I sign up for reminders?

Yes! In fact, we recommend it.  We send out reminders before key dates and deadlines as well as other important election information. You can add your name to get reminders here OurTime.org.

This article is cross-posted at OurTime.org.