Voting FAQ

How do I verify my voter registration status?

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You can verify your voter registration status online or by phone in most states. Links and phone numbers available here.

What kind of ID to I need to vote?

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A full list of each state’s ID requirements can be found here.

You may have been hearing about photo IDs. Actually, only 11 states currently require or request photo ID, and each one asks for something different. So please see our interactive map for the specifics on your state.

Student IDs are accepted in all but a few states that require ID. A map of which states accept what forms of Student ID can be found here. Please note that Student IDs may need to meet other requirements (like having an unexpired expiration date) to be acceptable, details here.

If you have concerns, it is a good idea to call your state election office. Also, if you have ID that is easily accessible, we recommend always bringing the best ID you have to the polls and proof of address like a utility bill, bank statement or pay stub.

Regardless of individual state voter ID laws, Federal law says that anyone who is voting for the first time in a given voting district may be required to show proof of residency. So it’s smart to bring proof of residence like a utility bill, paystub or rental agreement if you’re new to town. This specifically applies to anyone who registered by mail or through a third party organization (like a campaign or non-profit) and whose ID number could not be verified by the state.

I have an out of state driver’s license, because I moved and haven’t gotten a new one. With all of these new Voter ID laws, can I use this ID to vote?

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In about two thirds of U.S. states, the answer is YES, but keep in mind that under Federal Law, anyone who is voting for the first time in a given voting district may be required to show proof of residency, so it’s smart to bring a utility bill, paystub or rental agreement if you’re new to town. In Colorado, Ohio, North Dakota and Virginia, an out-of-state license won’t be considered sufficient ID, but a utility bill or any proof of address will.

The states where you’ll have a tougher time are as follows:

In Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin you need to show either an in-state photo ID or one that was issued federally like a passport or military ID; for many of these cases, there are other, limited, qualifying forms of identification. In Oklahoma and South Carolina the ID must come from within the state, but they also accept voter ID cards mailed to voters (note that the rules for South Carolina will change in 2013, when all voters will be required to have government-issued photo ID). In Oklahoma, a Tribal ID card is also sufficient.

To be on the safe side, we suggest calling your state election office before heading to the polls and checking out the exact requirements.

I moved within my state and haven’t gotten a new license. It’s from the same state, but my address is different. Can I use this ID to vote?

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In almost all cases, YES. But keep in mind, under Federal law, anyone who is voting for the first time in a given voting district may be required to show proof of residency regardless of the state, so again, it’s smart to bring proof of residence like a utility bill, pay-stub or rental agreement if you’re new to town.

I only have a student ID, can I vote?

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In most states, a valid Student ID is acceptable identification at the polls. Among states that require all voters to show ID to vote, only seven do not accept all student ID’s. Of those, Indiana, Georgia and Ohio accept only ID’s from state and public learning institutions. Only Arizona, Oklahoma, Tennessee and South Carolina accept no form of student ID while requiring all voters to show ID. More information can be found here. Please note that Student IDs may need to meet other requirements (like having an unexpired expiration date) to be acceptable. And a few states require schools to register with the state in order for their IDs to be accepted. Others only accept college ID, not high school. So if you plan to vote with a student ID, you should check your individual state requirements here, or better yet, call your state election office.

 

I got a voter card in the mail. Do I need to bring it to vote?

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No, but there are a few states (see below) where it can be used in place of photo ID, and the state of Texas requires any voter who does not bring their voter card to sign an affidavit and present other forms of ID.

Is my voter card an acceptable form of ID?

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It is in Alaska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.

I moved and have missed the deadline to register to vote. Am I out of luck?

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In a handful of states, you can update your address after the deadlines. Some states have “Election Day Registration.” So that’s easy. Others will let you update at the polls as long as you are within the same county. Some let you do it from anywhere in the state up to the day before Election Day by visiting your local registrar. This is a question best answered by calling your state election office, as 50 states have 50 different answers. The number can be found here.

What do I need to register to vote?

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To register, you need (1) an address from which you plan to vote, and (2) an ID number – either a current and valid driver’s license or your social security number, if you don’t have the former. If you have neither a current driver’s license nor a social security number (not that you can’t remember them), you can still register by indicating on the registration form that you have neither identification number.

I don’t live at the address on my driver’s license. Can I register at my new address?

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Yes, you should re-register each time you move. You may register at your current address regardless what address is on your driver’s license. BUT, you could be kept from voting if you do not bring a document with your current address to the polls that meets the requirements of the state of your residence. Most states permit another government ID, paycheck, utility bill or bank statement, but some have more stringent requirements. Therefore if your current address does not match your driver’s license, you should do one of two things:

  • Register at your new address and check the ID and proof of residency requirements here or with your Secretary of State’s office. You may need to get a new driver’s license.
  • Register at your home/parents’ address and vote by absentee ballot.

I have moved. Do I need to re-register?

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YES. You must re-register every time you change your permanent address.

Can I register to vote at my student address?

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YES. But you should provide your official campus mailing address as well as the actual physical address of your residence. You are allowed to register to vote at your school address (including on campus addresses). However, you may be required to present some sort of proof of address and residency at your polling place. More information about student voting can be found here.

I’m going to school in the fall and I don’t know what my address will be. What should I do?

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You can still register your permanent address and apply for an absentee ballot. Check your state’s requirements for absentee voting by state here. Or, you could also change your voter registration once you know your address at school. Student Voting information is avaliable here.

I move around a lot and I’m really not sure where I’ll be during the election.

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The best thing to do is to register wherever you have a permanent mailing address. Vote in that district on Election Day and bring the appropriate proof of identification and/or residency or apply for an absentee ballot if you will be away during the election.

If I’m changing my address, do I need to note that on the form?

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YES, in most cases. On a state form, look for the appropriate check box and/or fill out the section which asks for your previously registered voting address. On the federal, multi-state form, fill out the portion on the bottom half relating to your address change.

I can’t remember if I’ve ever registered to vote before or where I’ve registered to vote. Do I need to fill out a voter registration form?

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YES. If you are unsure if you are registered, you should register to vote at your current address.

I registered to vote but I never got a voter registration card in the mail. Should I fill out a new form?

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If you’re pretty sure that you are registered correctly, just check with your local registrar – as not all states send out voter registration cards. Info on how to check your registration status can be found here. But if you are unsure, you can always re-register here today.

I have an out-of-state driver’s license, but I live in this state and want to register here. Should I use my out-of-state license ID number or the last four digits of my social?

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You should never use a driver’s license number that is not from the state where you intend to register to vote. If your driver’s license is out-of-state, then give the last 4 digits of your SSN (except in HI, KY, NM, SC, TN, and VA, where you need to provide your full SSN).

Can I vote before election day?

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Thirty states allow no-excuse absentee voting by mail (which you can complete before Election Day). Thirty-six states offer in-person early voting in addition to or instead of no-excuse absentee voting. You should check your state election office website or Long Distance Voter to find out whether your state offers either or both of these options.

How do I request an absentee ballot?

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Go here to request an absentee ballot.

What should I bring with me to the polls?

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Laws vary from state to state. In most states you need to show some sort of ID or proof of address the first time you vote. Many states have also passed “Voter ID Laws” that require photo or government issued ID to be presented each time someone votes. In some states some states a student photo ID may suffice.The HeadCount website lists all voter ID requirements by state. In some states you will need to show a photo ID that shows your address and/or your signature (such as a driver’s license).

If your photo ID does not have a current address on it then you may also need to bring along a document that shows your current address information, such as a utility bill, bank statement or pay stub. In states where you do not need photo ID, then you still may need to bring along a document showing your current address.

If you have any questions, you can check with your state’s election officials – the Secretary of State or State Board of Elections in almost every state has a webpage that will provide this information. Links to all state election websites can be found at the HeadCount Election Center.

If I’ve moved from another state, is this considered a “Change Of Address” or a “New Registration”, or on some states’ forms a “new voter”?

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It is a change of address and new registration (check both boxes). You should fill out the section that asks for your previous registered voting address with as much detail as you can remember. When you register to vote in a new state you will be considered a first time voter in that voting district and will be required to provide ID at the polls – “current and valid photo identification” or “a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter.”

Can I complete a voter registration form if I don’t have an in-state driver’s license (or state issued ID card) and I can’t remember the last 4 digits of my social security number?

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You should wait to register to vote until you have this information.

I just got married and changed my last name. Should I re-register?

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YES. You should register a “change of name” form while filling out a voter registration application here. This is a part of the voter registration form in most states and on the national form. For Election Day you should bring along your ID with your new name and address, or your old name and address and a copy of your marriage certificate/change of name form.

I’m not 18, but will be by election day. Can I register?

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IN MOST STATES, YES. In all but a few states you are entitled to register to vote if you will be 18 by the upcoming Election Day. In the following states you can only register at age 17 if your 18th birthday is within a certain number of days/months: AK – 90 days; GA – 6 months; IA – 6 months; MO – 6 months; TX – 2 months. If you qualify under these rules, we suggest you register now.

Can I register to vote if I don’t have a driver’s license?

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YES. While all states require a driver’s license identification number or non-drivers ID number on the voter registration form, if you don’t have a driver’s license and have not been issued a non-driver state ID card, states will accept the last four digits of your social security number (except in HI, KY, NM, SC, TN, and VA where you should give your full SSN).

When is the deadline to register to vote?

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Generally 20-30 days prior to any election. However this varies by state and may also vary depending on whether you mail in your application or deliver it in person. To find specific information regarding your state’s registration deadlines, visit your state’s election website or the HeadCount Election Center.

Will I get called to jury duty if I register to vote?

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Possibly, but you might get called even if you are not registered. Motor vehicle registration, driver’s licenses, and utility records are all used for the purpose of calling citizens in for jury duty, in addition to voter registration lists.

Why do you need my social security number? I don’t want to give that out.

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SSN is only required in most states if you do not have a current in-state driver’s license or state-issued ID. And then you only need to put the last 4 digits of the SSN. In HI, KY, NM, SC, TN and VA, you should provide your full social security number.

Social security numbers are used by the state to verify your identity. We never record or retain your driver’s license or social security number or distribute it to anyone.

Do I need to pick a party when I register to vote?

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NO. However, some states require that you be enrolled with a party to vote in that party’s primary election. If you do not choose a party, enter “No party” on your voter registration form. To find out more information regarding your state’s political parties, visit your state election office website.

Do I write “white” or “caucasian” on the form?

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Caucasian is the preferred term.

Why do they ask for my phone number? Can it be my cell number?

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Phone numbers are used to contact a registrant if there is a problem with information on their registration form and can also be used for Get Out the Vote efforts. A cell phone number is acceptable.

Can I check to see if I’m registered to vote?

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YES. Call your local election office to verify that you are registered. Links to all state election websites can be found at the HeadCount Election Center.

How long does it take to process my registration?

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It can take several weeks. Most states send out voter registration cards within 5 to 7 weeks after receiving the registration. If you do not, contact your state election office to check if you are registered. In any event you should check your registration at least a week prior to the voter registration deadline in your state, in case you need to fill out a new registration form or correct your form.

How do I vote, if I will be away from home on Election Day?

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You can generally vote by absentee ballot if you will be away from home on Election Day. Many states also offer in person early voting in the days or weeks leading up to the election. Visit Election Center for more information on absentee and early voting.

How do I know where to vote?

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Find your polling place by visiting the website of your state election office or calling your state election office. Links to all state election websites can be found at the HeadCount Election CenterVote 411 also maintains a polling place finder that can be found here. You should receive a voter information card/certificate in the mail that will direct you to your polling place. Polling places can be moved, however, so it is important to check where to vote before Election Day.

Can I register if I have US citizenship, but am living abroad and don’t have my own permanent address in the USA?

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YES. In this case you must register at the last address you had before you left the USA, or at the address to which you will return. If the latter, you may not simply pick the place you would like to return to in an ideal world; there must be some indication of a present intent to return and live there (e.g. vehicle registration, driver’s license, property ownership, family, etc). More information on overseas voting can be found here.

I know that I’ve registered to vote before, and I know that I registered to vote in the same state where I live, but I can’t remember where I lived, when I registered to vote, or what that address was. Should I register as a “New Registration”/”New Voter” or should I register as a “Change Of Address” and leave the previous address section blank?

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Indicate that it is a change of address, and provide as much information about the old address as you can remember (such as city and zip code if possible). If you cannot remember any information, fill in “can’t remember” in the address box if it asks for one.

The information on this page represents HeadCount's best effort to provide the public with accurate voting information. If you have questions or require more information please visit your state election website.

HeadCount provides voter registration assistance on a strictly nonpartisan basis to any U.S. citizen age 18 or over without regard to political affiliation, race, religion, or age. HeadCount does not endorse, support or coordinate with any political party or candidates for elected office, or take positions on any ballot initiatives.