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Voting FAQ

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

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.

Can I register to vote at my student address?

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 must have some sort of proof of address and residency that can be presented at your polling place. For more information, we suggesting visiting the Brennan Center’s Student Voting Guide.

What should I bring with me to the polls?

Laws vary from state to state. You can visit HeadCount’s Voter ID Requirements page to get specific information about your state. In some states you will need to show a valid photo ID that includes your address and/or your signature (such as a driver’s license). In most (but not all) of these states a student photo ID with your address will suffice.

If your photo ID does not have a current address on it, then you will also need to bring along a document that shows your current address information, such as a utility bill, banks statement or pay stub. In states where you do not need photo ID, you may still need to prove residency with a document showing your current address especially if you are voting for the first time.

Some states may allow you to vote provisionally or by a sworn affidavit without photo ID. We recommend having the documents listed above, however, if you do not please check your state’s requirements so that you do not miss an opportunity to vote.

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

In some 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 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, go ahead and register now.

For more information (and states where you can even register at 16!), check out this page from the NCSL.

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

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.

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

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 the HeadCount Voter Info Hub or your state election website.

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

You can verify your voter registration status online or by phone in most states. Links and phone numbers can be found at HeadCount Verify My Registration page.

How long does it take to process my registration?

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 receive a registration card in the mail, contact your state election office to confirm you are registered. In any event, you should verify your registration 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.

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

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). If you have never had a permanent address in the United States but are a citizen you are allowed to register at an address you plan on moving to or an address where you currently have family living. The Overseas Vote Foundation provides excellent information and resources on all matters related to registering and voting from abroad.

Can I vote if I am a convicted felon?

Laws vary from state to state. In some, your rights are restored automatically once your sentence or parole period ends. In others you must petition to have your rights restored. You should not register to vote if you are not aware of the status of your civil rights. For a comprehensive look at state-by-state felon restrictions, we suggest visiting ProCon’s Felon Voter Information website.

What do I need to register to vote?

In most states 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.

Arizona and Kansas also require proof of citizenship. In Arizona, this means you need to provide an Arizona driver’s license or state ID number (issued after October 1, 1996), or documentary proof such as a birth or naturalization certificate along with the registration application.

In Kansas, if you are registering to vote for the first time you need to provide documentary proof of citizenship. Your driver’s license does not suffice as proof of citizenship; there you must provide your passport, birth certificate or naturalization certificate.

In Wisconsin, all voters need to provide a proof of residency when you register to vote. Proof of residency can include a valid in-state driver’s license with your current address or recent official mail with your name and address. South Carolina and Vermont also require proof of residency documentation if you register to vote by mail.

In most states, if you have neither a current driver’s license or state-issued ID, and have never been issued a social security number, you can still register by indicating on the registration form that you have neither identification number. Some may require an affidavit or other documentation.

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?

NO. You should wait to register to vote until you have this information.

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

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).

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?

YES. If you are unsure if you are registered, you should register now.

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

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. If you registered right before the election deadline, the state might not have time to get a card out to you. Info on how to check your registration status can be found here. But if you are unsure, you can always re-register here today.

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”?


ALL THREE! You should fill out the sections that ask for your previous registered voting address with as much detail as you can remember. If you register to vote in a new state, you will be considered a first time voter and will be required to provide ID at the polls – this might be a photo ID or simply a document verifying your new address (such as a utility bill, bank statement or paystub). For a full list of your state’s requirements, check our our Voter ID guide.

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

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.

When is the deadline to register to vote?

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 Dates and Deadlines page. Registration deadlines for primary elections can also be found at this page.

Why does it ask for my social security number when registering to vote? I don’t want to give that out.

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.

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

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 just fine.

I know that I’ve registered to vote before, but I can’t remember where I lived. 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?

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. Links to all state election websites can be found at the HeadCount Voter Info Hub.

I’m trying to register through your website, but I don’t have a printer to print out the form. What should I do?

If you don’t have a friend who can print it out for you, many libraries have printers available. Some also have pre-printed voter registration forms. You can also register at any DMV or election office. The number for your state election office is here – they can tell you where to find a local office.

Can I register to vote online?

In some states, YES. An increasing number of states allow you to register online if you have a driver’s license or non-driver’s ID card issued by the state. In all other states, if the form is available online, you will still need to print it out and send it in to the state election office or your county election office. You can begin this process on the HeadCount website right now.

How do I register to vote for my state’s presidential primary or caucus?

It depends. Some states hold open primaries that are open to all registered voters, others hold closed primaries that require you are pre-registered with the party some time before the general voter registration deadline, and still others will allow unaffiliated voters to select a party on election or caucus day. The best way to ensure your participation is to visit the HeadCount Voter Info Hub to view your state’s specific requirements.

The registration form asks for information that I’m uncertain about. Should I take my best guess or leave it blank?

You should complete all required sections of the voter registration form to the best of your ability. The problem with leaving portions of the form blank is that there are different rules in different states regarding what is a complete form and how to treat incomplete forms. You also have to attest to the truthfulness and accuracy of the information you’ve provided. If you have an idea but are unsure, write “to the best of my knowledge” next to a section you’re not 100% sure of.

I have messy handwriting. Can my friend fill out my form for me and then I’ll sign it?

Laws vary by state, but in some states anyone who assists in filling out voter registration forms must also sign and date the form and provide contact info. Because the laws vary, we suggest people fill out their own form.

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

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

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

The best thing is to register now at your permanent address. Then you can apply for an absentee ballot from your local elections office or change your voter registration address at school when you do know your address.

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

The best thing to do is to register now wherever you have a permanent mailing address. Vote in that district and bring some 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?

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 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?

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).

To be on the safe side, we suggest checking with your state election office before heading to the polls and checking out the exact requirements. Links to your state election office can be found at the HeadCount Voter Info Hub.

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

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.

I just moved to a new state the other day. Can I register at my new address?

Residency rules vary by state. In some states you can register right away. Others require that you’ve lived there for at least 30 days. To learn your state’s guidelines, you are best calling your state election office. You can find the number here.

Can I vote before election day?

Many states allow no-excuse absentee voting by mail (which you can complete before Election Day). More than half of U.S. states offer in-person early voting as well. Visit the Headcount Early and Absentee Voting page to get more information or request an absentee ballot.

How do I request an absentee ballot?

Go here to request an absentee ballot.

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

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 the HeadCount Early and Absentee Voting page to request an absentee ballot or get information on how to vote early.

How do I know where to vote?

Find your polling place by visiting the website of your state election office or calling your state election office or visiting the HeadCount Polling Place Finder. Note that updated information is often not available until shortly before Election Day. You may 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.

What kind of ID do I need to vote?

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

You may have been hearing about photo IDs. Many states currently require or request photo ID, but 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?

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 and Ohio, 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, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia 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 for South Carolina it must be one of the new voter cards that include a photo).

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?

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. We strongly recommend you check out our guide to your state’s voter ID requirements before heading to the polls.

I only have a student ID, can I vote?

In many states, a valid Student ID is acceptable identification at the polls. For a simple breakdown of which states require what, check out our quick-reference map here, and definitely check your individual state ID requirements here for more details. Or, better yet, call your state election office.


Do I need to bring my voter card?

NO. A voter card is not required to vote. It’s a convenient reminder of where your polling place is, but you will not be asked to show it at the polls.

Is my voter card an acceptable form of ID?

In most states, a voter card is NOT considered acceptable ID. For a full list of what is acceptable in your state, visit the HeadCount Voter ID page.

What if I go to the polls and they tell me I’m not registered?

First, make sure you are at the correct polling place. Click here to call your state election office and verify your registration. You can also use our online Polling Place Finder. If you can not find your polling place or verify that you are in fact registered, the best thing to do is fill out a provisional ballot, and then make sure you are properly registered for the next election.

What is a provisional ballot?

A provisional ballot is used when a voter’s eligibility cannot be confirmed at the polls. Often this occurs due to out-of-precinct voting, if the voter has not updated their address on their voter registration or more often if the voter cannot provide sufficient identification. The laws governing the use of provisional ballots vary by state. Most of the time these ballots will not be counted until the voter can be verified, a process that happens after election day and usually only affects an extremely close or tied election.

i think my voting rights have been denied. What do I do?

Call the voting rights hotline at 866 OUR-VOTE. They have lawyers ready to help you. You can also email HeadCount at [email protected] and we’ll try to help you out.

HeadCount has compiled all of the information you need to answer your voting questions. Your voting FAQ! Learn about researching candidates, voting accessibility, voting requirements, when & how to vote, overseas & student voting, voting early, and what to bring with you on election day!

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