Every vote counts, and your vote can influence educational policy, job security, crime prevention, and more. If you recently relocated, take time now to ensure your voter registration is updated so that you can vote on Election Day.
There is so much to do after moving—especially to a new state—but updating your voter registration is one of the simpler tasks. After you’ve successfully moved into your new home with the help of an interstate moving company, read this guide to change your voter registration before the upcoming election.
How to Check and Update Your Registration Status
Whether you moved from coast to coast or one state over, you’ll need to update your voter registration. You are only legally allowed to vote in one state, so any time you move to a new state, you will need to submit a new voter registration.
If you are uncertain where you are registered to vote, you can check your status at Vote.org. After you’ve checked your voter registration status and confirmed you need to update it, you can register to vote in one of three ways: in person, online, or by mail.
- In-person voter registration: Depending on your state, you can either register at your local election office or the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You can locate the closest election office to your new home at USA.gov.
- Mail-in voter registration: To change your voter registration by mail, you must first submit the National Voter Registration Form. The form may include specific requirements for your state, so pay attention to the instructions before mailing the form to your state or local election office.
- Online voter registration: Forty-two states and the District of Columbia have online voter registration options. To register online, find your state in the table below and follow the corresponding online registration link.
State-by-State Guide to Updating Your Voter Registration
There are typically three ways to update your voter registration, but each state has its own process. Find your state below to see its accepted voter registration methods, deadlines, and requirements.
Voter Registration for Special Circumstances
Many people aren’t able to vote in their home state on Election Day for various reasons. Military personnel and college students who are away from home, for example, often use absentee ballots to cast their votes. If you have been diagnosed with a disability that makes it difficult or impossible to get to the polls, you can also receive an absentee ballot and vote from the comfort of your home. Note that absentee ballots and mail-in ballots are not synonymous; you must specifically request an absentee ballot and provide a qualifying reason.
If you have ever been convicted of a felony, you may also be uncertain of your voting rights. Here’s what to know about voting if any of these special circumstances apply to you:
- Military: Military personnel, military spouses, and all eligible family members have the right to vote absentee in all federal elections using a standardized form, the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). If you move to a different state or even another country, you can mail in your vote to your legal state of residence.
- College students: College students have the option to register to vote in their home state or in the state where they attend college. To vote in your home state while away at college, you can request an absentee ballot online or by mail. If you prefer to vote in the state where you currently reside for school, you can register to vote in that state, but note that you will only be able to vote in that state unless you later change your voter registration to your home state.
- People with disabilities: Individuals with disabilities have the right to vote absentee. All you have to do is follow your state’s requirements to request an absentee ballot and send your ballot in by the deadline. If you need specific accommodations or assistance, contact your state’s elections office for more information.
- Convicted felons: In the past, the United States government revoked an individual’s right to vote if they had ever been convicted of a felony, but many states have opted to reinstate that right. In Washington, D.C., Maine, and Vermont, those who are incarcerated maintain their right to vote. In 23 states, those who were convicted of a felony regain their right to vote immediately upon release from prison, and in 14 states, those convicted of a felony regain their right to vote after their parole or probation periods conclude.
How to Navigate Common Voter Issues
It is your civil right to cast a vote on Election Day, but that doesn’t mean you won’t run into challenges at the polls. If you are one of the millions of Americans who historically haven’t voted due to inconvenience, uncertainty, or another reason, don’t fret. Below, we explain how to navigate common voter issues.
How to Vote If You Lost Your Photo ID
If you lose your driver’s license or don’t have a proper photo ID, you may run into voting challenges. But just because you lost your ID doesn’t always mean you can’t vote. You don’t need an ID to vote in 16 states.
Other states may let you cast a provisional ballot, which allows you to vote even though you don’t have your ID. This is the best scenario if you misplaced your ID and are able to find it or quickly get a replacement. If you don’t return within a few days with a valid ID, your vote won’t count.
What to Do If You Don’t Know Who to Vote For
If you want to be a fully informed voter and vote for the candidates who share your beliefs on key topics, you have to do the research. However, it can be hard to stay up to date on the latest candidates as you juggle work, home life, and other responsibilities.
You could spend hours watching debates, reading lengthy campaigns, or attending campaign events, but here are some simpler ways to know who’s running and where they stand on important issues:
- Explore the candidates’ campaign websites to understand their stances on the topics you care about most.
- Use voter guides to better understand each candidate’s experience and goals. Enter your home address on ballotready.org to find voter guides online, or read your local newspaper to learn about who’s on the ballot.
- Download a sample ballot to see the candidates and their political affiliations.
How to Vote If You Have to Work on Election Day
Federal law does not require businesses to grant employees time off from work to vote. Many states mandate voting leave time, but this may only apply if your work hours prevent you from getting to the polls. Luckily, there are options for those who work during polling hours:
- Take advantage of early voting times on weekends and in the evening.
- Mail in your ballot if you can’t visit the polls in person. States that offer voting by mail will proactively mail you your ballot without you having to request it.
- If you know you’ll be out of the state for work on Election Day, request an absentee ballot via mail or email. The state will provide you with a ballot that you can send in the mail.
There’s so much to get accomplished after you move, but registering to vote should be at the top of your list. As Election Day approaches, make it a priority to check your state's requirements, deadlines, and options for voter registration. Remember that you can only register to vote in one state, and in many states registration must be completed well in advance of Election Day.
If you’ll be out of the state on Election Day or have another qualifying circumstance, you can request an absentee ballot—just be sure to apply by your state’s deadline. Voting is the cornerstone of democracy, and every ballot counts, so follow the simple steps for voter registration and make sure your voice is heard this Election Day.