Registering to Vote

Most states have a voter registration deadline. In 2014, ten states plus the District of Columbia allow some form of same-day registration and voting statewide. These states are Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, Maine*, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Voter turnout is much higher in states using Election Day registration than in states that do not. Four of the top five states for voter turnout in the 2012 presidential election all offered same day registration and average voter turnout was over 10 percentage points higher.

Also, in Illinois, same-day registration will take effect for the November 2014 general election in limited locations. California’s same-day voter registration law won’t take effect until at least 2015 once the state has implemented a statewide voter registration database.

*In June 2011, Maine’s Republican-controlled Legislature passed a law ending four decades of Election Day voter registration. In November 2011, a citizen referendum restored it.

Click here to get voter registration and much more voting information specific to your state.

Registration, Voting Tips & the Election Process

1: You Can Vote If….

You can vote if you’re at least 18 years old, you’re a U.S. citizen, you haven’t been declared mentally incompetent by a court of law, and if you’re not a felon (in 13 states and the District of Columbia disenfranchisement ends after incarceration is complete).

2: You Can Register Almost Anywhere

You can find voter registration applications at the DMV, the post office, the library, the fire station, your local election office, or by downloading a registration application from the Internet. You also might find registration applications at coffee shops, on college campuses, in mall kiosks, and other unexpected places.

3: Primary versus General Elections

In the primary election, you narrow down the field of candidates. If you’re registered Republican, you pick the best Republican. Same thing if you’re a Democrat. In the general election, you can vote for whomever you want – regardless of your party affiliation, or theirs.

4: You Don’t Have To Choose A Party

When you register to vote, you can register with a political party – Republican, Democrat, Green or any other – or you can “decline to state,” which means you are registered as an Independent or unaffiliated voter.

5: The Sample Ballot Is The Voting Bible

The sample ballot you receive in the mail before an election is full of information. It tells you when and where to vote and what you can vote for, and often, even the voting equipment you’ll be using. Fill it out at home, and bring it with you as a reference on Election Day.

6: You Can Ask For Help

If you don’t understand something at the polling place, you can ask any of the poll workers to help you. They are trained to answer questions and to walk you through the process if you need guidance.

7: If You Screw Up, You Get Another Chance

If you make a mess of your ballot, or if you think you’ve mis-marked it, you can ask for a new one and start again. It’s YOUR ballot.

8: You Don’t Have To Go To The Polls To Vote

You don’t have to leave your house to vote. You can request an absentee ballot, which allows you to vote by mail. In most cases, you have to request an absentee ballot at least seven days before an election, but call the Secretary of State’s office in your state for requirements in your community. Just remember to get it in before the deadline!

9: Your Vote Is Secret

Your vote is completely confidential. No matter what anyone tells you to do, when you go into the polls or fill out your absentee ballot, you make your own choice.

10: Voting Is A Privilege

Voting gives you the chance to change your world and to make your voice heard. A presidential election was won by one electoral vote. Women won the right to vote by one vote. Texas was given statehood by one vote. In other words, YOUR VOTE COUNTS.