U.S. citizenship alone does not guarantee the right to vote in an election. You must first register with your state of residence to become eligible to submit your say.
And fortunately, the process is easy.
How and Where to Register to Vote for Elections
You have three voter registration options:
- By mail
- In person
Register to Vote by Mail
You can obtain an application from a number of sources. Some of these include:
- Your County’s Board of Elections Office.
- Downloading a copy from your Secretary of State’s website.
- Downloading a copy from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s website.
Make sure to include your signature when completing the form. Mail it to the address listed on the application. If you download a National Voter Registration form from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s website, be sure to mail it to the address listed for your state.
Keep in mind that when registering by mail federal law requires providing proof of identification at the polling place when voting for the first time. Acceptable proof includes:
- Photo identification.
- A current bill, bank statement, or government document showing your name and address.
Some states may require additional ID. Play it safe. Before arriving to vote, call your County’s Board of Elections for a list of acceptable forms of identification. Otherwise you’ll risk being denied by election officials.
Register to Vote in Person
Arrive in person at a designated voter registration location with a completed voter application form and proper identification. Some of the more common locations include:
- Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) offices.
- Your county’s or state’s Board of Elections office.
- Country of Treasurers’ Offices.
Register to Vote Online
If your state offers this option, you can usually find the online voter registration application on your Secretary of State’s website. Requirements vary by state, but in most cases you will need either your driver’s license number or state identification number to use the system. After submitting, you may or may not receive a confirmation note from your County Clerk – this will depend on your state.
If you register to vote online you will be required to provide proof of identification when voting. Contact your county’s Board of Elections office for acceptable forms of proof.
Voters: Be Sure to Register On Time
To join other voters on Election Day, you will need to submit your voter registration form before your state’s cut-off date. Colorado’s registration deadline, for example, is 29 days before an election. In New Jersey it’s 21 days, and in New York, 25 days.