It’s time to check your voter registration—here’s how
Your voting status may be outdated. Make sure you can cast a ballot in November.
Plug “check voter registration status” or “am I registered to vote” into a search engine and you’ll get a variety of pages. You might be tempted to click the very first one. Don’t.
Yes, all the results on the search page should help you check your registration, and many links will also show you how to register if you’re not on your local list of voters. But after clicking on oh so many of them, we found that some are more helpful than others.
National Association of Secretaries of State
Every state makes its own voting rules, so it makes sense that the secretaries of state, whose offices handle elections, would have banded together to help people vote. This non-partisan organization gets you checking your registration in just two steps.
First, head to NASS’s voter registration status page (you can get it in Spanish too). Then, pick your state from the dropdown menu. It’ll bring you right to the page on your state’s website where you can see if you’re registered. This is useful because hunting for this information on the state’s website yourself may not be as easy or intuitive as you’d hoped.
Once you’re on your state’s domain, simply follow the directions and fill in the proper fields to find out if you’re on the voter rolls. The only exception here is North Dakota, which doesn’t register voters. All you need is identification showing your date of birth and that you live in the state.
The one downside to this process is that the dropdown menu doesn’t list any US territories, which won’t participate in the 2020 presidential election. But they do have elections of their own, so we’ve got you covered.
US Election Assistance Commission
It’s in its name: the EAC offers a wealth of election-related information. This independent bipartisan commission was created by the Help America Vote Act of 2002, and while there’s no page dedicated to checking your registration, it’s not hard to find.
Once you’re on the Register And Vote in Your State page, simply choose your state from the dropdown menu. Next, you’ll get useful links, contacts, and deadlines, including how to check your registration.
The US territories American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are here, but there’s no option to check your voter registration for Guam or Puerto Rico. So, here, a gift:
Why it’s important to check your registration status
Numerous factors can affect your voter registration: moving (even a few blocks), a name change, and the government purging you from their voter list, to name a few. That’s why as the election creeps ever closer, it’s important to really make sure you’re on the rolls. Save your state’s checkup page and review it repeatedly, if you want.
What to look for when you check your registration
Even if you are registered, the information may not be correct. The federal government recommends confirming your name is spelled accurately, that your address and party affiliation are up-to-date, and that you know where your polling place is.
If anything’s wrong, contact your election office immediately—you might need to update your information or re-register. When you do so, you should also plan to update your driver’s license or whatever identification your state requires you to show at the polls. If you’re not sure what, if any, ID you’ll need, the National Conference of State Legislatures has a map for that.
What to do if you’re not registered
There are four ways to register to vote: online, by mail, by phone, and in person. If you’re not sure which options your state has, go to vote.gov, pick your state or territory from the dropdown menu, and click Find out how to register.
If this is available in your state, it might be the easiest way to register. Unfortunately, it’s not offered nationwide. Forty-one states and Washington, D.C., have it, though. You can find links to the state forms on the NCSL website and D.C.’s voter registration page right here.
All states except Wyoming and North Dakota (which, again, doesn’t register voters) accept registration by mail. New Hampshire only accepts requests for absentee ballots by mail. To send your registration by post, download, fill out, sign, and mail in the National Mail Voter Registration Form. It’s available in 15 languages and all you need is a US address.
Some states will register you over the phone, but you’ll have to check with your local election office. You can find it by selecting your state from the dropdown menu on this usa.gov page.
You can register in the flesh at your state or local election office. We didn’t travel to every single one of these (sorry), so we can’t provide any more detail than that. You may also be able to register at the local department of motor vehicles, a military recruitment center, or a public assistance office, but you’ll need to check with those locations first.