Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated on September 17, 2020

Voter Registration

Am I registered to vote?

We can help you find out. Use our Verify tool to check your voter registration status.

If you are registered, the tool will confirm that, and will tell you the address of your registration.

If it can’t find your information, don’t worry. If you registered very recently, the voter file takes some time to update, so you can check your status directly with your state. If you entered the information incorrectly, you can go back and re-submit.

If you would like to update your information or register as a new voter, you can click the link to do so using the Vote.org Register tool.

How do I register to vote?

It takes two minutes to register using our Register tool.

Fill out the first page, and press the red button to continue. Follow the prompts to provide any additional information needed for your state.

Depending on where you live, the tool will recommend the simplest and most digital path for you -- that may mean clicking out to register directly through your state’s online voter registration site, using Vote.org’s eSign technology to submit via fax, or generating a PDF to print and mail to your local election official.

Am I allowed to register to vote?

In all states, you must be at least 18 years old on Election Day and must be a U.S. citizen.

Some states have additional requirements to be eligible to vote, such as living in the county you'll vote in for at least 30 days or not having been convicted of a felony. You can find your state's full eligibility requirements here: https://www.vote.org/voter-registration-rules/

When do I need to register to vote?

Deadlines to register to vote are different in every state. Some states require you to register as many as 30 days before the election, so make sure you’re meeting your state's deadline.

You can find your state’s registration deadline by visiting this page.

Can I register to vote online?

In 40 states, you are allowed to register to vote online.

You can learn more about voter registration in your state here.

Do I have to provide ID when I register to vote?

Some states allow online registration for potential voters who do not have a state-issued ID number.

You do not need to provide an ID number or SSN in order to register to vote, if you do not have one. All states are required to accept the federal form to allow someone to register in federal elections, and with the federal form this is requested but not required.

Tip: If you are a first-time voter or live in a state that requires you to show an ID in order to vote, you may need to bring additional identification to vote. Check your state’s Voter ID requirements here.

I was convicted of a felony. Am I able vote?

That depends. Each state has different laws regarding voting rights for people with felony convictions. If you have a felony conviction, you can learn more about your voting rights at Restore Your Vote.

Do I need to re-register to vote for every election?

No, but it's good practice to check your registration status in advance of every election to make sure your information is correct and up to date. It takes 30 seconds using our Verify tool.

You will need to re-register to vote if:

  • you've moved
  • you've changed your name
  • your state has purged your registration
  • you'd like to switch political parties

If you need to re-register or make any changes, you can use our Register tool.

I moved. How do I change the address of my voter registration?

If you have moved or changed your address, you will have to register to vote at the new address.

Use the Registration tool to re-register at your new address.

I am a college student. Should I register at home or where I go to school?

All students who will be 18 by election day and are U.S. citizens have the right to vote somewhere and they should do so!

Students should register to vote at the address they consider to be their “residence," which may be their school address.

You don’t have to be living in a location to request an absentee ballot to vote in that location. Even if campuses are closed, voters who are registered at their school address can visit our Vote by Mail tool to request a mail-in ballot.

I don't have a printer. What should I do?

In many cases, you don't need to print your form and our tools will help you submit digitally.

If you do need to print your form, we recommend going to your public library and asking the librarian to help. You can also ask a neighbor or visit a shop that has printing services.

How do I register to vote if I'm overseas or in the military?

If you are overseas or in the military, please visit our partners at the Overseas Vote Foundation.

Can I register to vote before I turn 18?

If you are under the age of 18, you may be able to pre-register to vote if your state allows it. Find our your state's rules here.

If you aren't yet 18 and your state does not have pre-registration, sign up to receive a text reminder with a link to register to vote on your 18th birthday.

Voting In Person

How do I find my polling place?

If you are planning to vote in person, make sure you know where your polling place is, and keep in mind that it may have changed since the last election.

Find your polling place using our polling place locator.

Can I vote early?

Most states allow some form of early in-person voting. Find out your state's early voting rules and dates using our early voting calendar.

Another great way to vote in advance of Election Day is to vote by mail. Learn more about your state's rules here.

Tip: Keep in mind that while some states don't technically have early voting, they may allow certain people to vote absentee in-person before the election.

What do I need to bring with me to vote?

You may be required or requested to show ID at the polls in order to cast your ballot.

In addition, you may need to have an ID showing that you reside at the same address that is on your voter registration form. Check your state’s ID rules here.

Your state may have different ID requirements if you are voting in person, voting absentee, or voting for the first time.

Voting By Mail

What is vote by mail?

Voting by mail means that instead of going to the polls, voters get a ballot mailed to them. Voters fill it out and either mail it back to local election officials or drop it off at a designated site by a specified date.

In some states, voting by mail is called absentee voting, early voting, or voting from home. Different states have different rules and processes for voting by mail. Some automatically send all registered voters mail-in ballots, some send mail-in ballots to all voters who request one, and some require an “excuse” for receiving a mail-in ballot.

Because of COVID-19, some states are removing previous barriers to voting by mail, like requiring an excuse, or adding COVID-19 as a qualifying excuse to vote by mail this year.

Why vote by mail?

No one should have to risk their health, or the health of others, to participate in our democracy and cast their ballot.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that voters consider alternatives to casting their ballots in person, including by voting by mail.

Voting by mail is safe and protects our communities. Voters won’t have to risk their health, or the health of others, by waiting in line at a polling place on Election Day.

Voting by mail is convenient. Voters can vote on their own schedules, without worrying about taking time off work, securing childcare, or navigating bad weather. And voters can take their time and research candidates more thoroughly without feeling pressure at the voting booth.

How do I vote by mail?

Vote.org’s vote by mail tool helps voters easily request a mail-in ballot based on their state’s process. The process varies from state to state, but it generally consists of three key steps:

  1. Register to vote or check voter registration status at Vote.org, especially if a voter has moved or their state has purged voter rolls
  2. Request a mail-in ballot using Vote.org’s vote-by-mail tool if a voter’s state will not automatically send them a ballot. Vote.org helps voters request mail-in ballots online whether a state’s process is web-, fax-, or print-based.
  3. Receive a ballot in the mail, fill it out according to state guidelines, and return it via mail or at a local drop-off site before the state’s deadline.

If I'm voting by mail, do I still have to register to vote?

Yes (unless you live in North Dakota)! To be safe, we recommend verifying your registration using our verify tool.

While some states include the request for a mail-in ballot with new voter registration applications, most treat voter registration and vote-by-mail applications as two separate steps. You can find more information on your state’s process here.

When do I have to request a mail-in ballot?

States require that vote-by-mail requests be received anywhere from one to 14 days before Election Day. To make sure you receive your ballot in time and can correct any errors, check your voter registration status and request a mail-in ballot as soon as possible. You can find a listing of your states’ application periods and deadlines here.

Be sure to note whether your mail-in ballot request must be received or postmarked by the deadline.

When does my mail-in ballot have to be returned for it to be counted?

Many states require that ballots are received by or on Election Day. Check this listing of state ballot deadlines and be sure to note if your ballot must be postmarked or received by the deadline.

The United States Postal Service expects to handle millions of ballots this election cycle and strongly recommends allowing at least five days for the safe delivery of mail-in ballots. Voters can also drop off their ballots at specified locations.

What if my ballot doesn't arrive in time?

If you do not receive your mail-in ballot by Election Day, you can still vote in person, and most states have a website or voter hotlines that can help you track your ballot or create a new voting plan. Visit our Election Center to see if your state has a tracking link. We recommend requesting your mail-in ballot as soon as possible to ensure it gets to you with enough time to return it by Election Day.

Is voting by mail secure?

Voting by mail is a secure and established part of our electoral system. In the last two federal elections, nearly one in every four voters cast a mail-in ballot.

In all states, there are safeguards in place to assure that voting by mail is conducted fairly and securely. More than 250 million votes have been safely and accurately cast by mail-in ballots since 2000.

Voting by mail is as safe as conducting other important activities by mail, like paying bills, filing taxes, or sending credit cards and prescription drugs.

All states will still have in-person polling sites for those who cannot or do not want to vote by mail. Polling sites are also places where voters can go to correct unexpected problems with their mail-in ballot.