National Voter Registration Day: A beginner’s guide

Politics

A person waits in line to vote in the Georgia’s primary election on May 24, 2022, in Atlanta. More than 1 million voters across 43 states have switched to the Republican Party over the last year, according to voter registration data analyzed by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

(NewsNation) — Happy National Voter Registration Day!

Established in 2012 as a civic nonpartisan holiday to help motivate voters to get to the polls, on Sept. 20 all U.S. citizens have the opportunity to either register to vote for the first time, update their information for voting, or sign up to be poll workers.

Registering to vote is not difficult, nor does it take a lot of time, but it can be confusing without some direction. Deadlines and materials for eligibility to vote differ in every state.

While midterms — the elections that take place midway through a president’s term for members of Congress as well as state and local representatives — historically have a low turnout relative to presidential elections, hot-button ballot issues have become a pressing matter and are likely to influence turnout.

With issues such as the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and abortion rights now varying from state to state, school shootings, gun rights laws, immigration, supply chain issues and inflation, just to name a few, there are plenty of reasons to be registered to vote before the Nov. 8 primaries.

But first, you must be eligible.

Voter eligibility

Before anyone can vote, they must first be eligible to do so. In America, there are a couple of requirements:

  • You must be 18 year of age
  • You must be a U.S. citizen
Confirm you are registered

If you are of age and have citizenship, it’s good practice to confirm whether you’re registered each upcoming election and to verify your polling location, party affiliation or mailing address if need be.

With the internet, this is a simple process. To check registration:

  • Visit Can I Vote on the National Association of Secretaries of State website and select “voter registration status.”
  • Choose your state. You will be taken to a page on your state’s election website.
  • Check to see if you are registered.

It’s best to check your registration information before your state’s registration deadline — which could be up to 30 days before the election.

Cases for re-registration

There are instances where voters may need to register all over again. These specifics are important as updating voter registration can be time-sensitive.

  • If you’ve moved within your state or changed your name (if this is the case, make sure you also change your driver’s licence or state ID before election if it’s the form of identification you plan on using.)
  • You have moved permanently to another state. Register to vote in the new state.
  • Sometimes, in cases where you find yourself in a new state before an election, you will have to vote with an absentee ballot, which will require a “register in.” This will allow you to begin voting in your new state.
Voter registration deadlines

Voter registration deadlines vary by state but are all no more than 30 days before an election, as mandated by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993.

Some states have a deadline of 28-30 days before an election, while others have a deadline of one to 15 days before an election. A full list can be found at the National Conference of State Legislatures website.

The list below names states that will allow you to register to vote on Election Day, although it must be in person and voters will need proof of address and an ID

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota doesn’t require voter registration
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

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