How to Change Your Voting Address in Each State
Tackling Voter Registration In A New State
Planning to move soon? That is great! But please be aware that no matter which state that you move to, you want to have an impact on the community in which you live in. One of the biggest ways to have such an impact is by voting.
The question is how do I ensure that I’m registered to vote in my new place of abode? I am glad that you asked, because different states have different rules. For example, some think that once they move and go down to the DMV and get a brand-new driver’s license that shows their new address, they have officially registered to vote.
This line of thinking is incorrect! While the first step may be to update your driver’s license, there are additional steps to ensure that you are registered to vote, and no, filling out a change of address at the local post office is not one of those options.
In most states however, according to The U.S. Election Assistance Commission, “most states allow a 60-day grace period for you to be able to vote using your old address,” so you may factor this into your transition as to the sense of urgency in establishing your right to vote.
Basic Voting Rules & Regulations
• If you plan on voting in the very next election, you more than likely must be registered to vote 30 days prior to that election (unless you live in a state like North Dakota).
• Eligible voters must meet and minimum age of 18 before Election Day.
• A voter may be able to pre-register to vote if they are 16 or 17 dependent upon the state in which they live. It is wise to check your state’s voter registration age requirement prior to the election in which you wish to participate.
• Absentee ballots are available in every state.
• Unless you are voting early, there is a designated polling station in which you must vote, and this location is solely based on the address identified as a permanent residence.
Updating Your Voting Address
Updating the address is easily forgotten. With all the tasks involved in moving, it can sometimes be a challenge to remember some of the simplest steps that will make the biggest difference on your eligibility to vote. Remember, please don’t wait until the last minute.
Typically, there is a voter registration deadline of 2 to 4 weeks in most states. It is a good idea after you’ve moved and gotten settled in to check your state’s voter registration guidelines to make sure that you don’t miss the opportunity to vote. A good rule of thumb is to check about eight weeks out.
If you take care of your voter registration obligation well in advance, it is a good idea to check your voter status about a week ahead of time to ensure that there no surprises once you get to the polls. It will be very disappointing if you get to the polls and you cannot vote.
By taking this extra step, you may be able to resolve any minor issues or simple alterations that may need to be resolved prior to you being officially able to vote in your area.
Where to update your new voting address
It is going to largely depend upon the state. For example, some states allow you to make voting changes online and others may require you to appear in person at a designated location. Some states may allow you to simply mail in your request, but there will be several different options available to you regardless.
If you would like to make your updates via the online option, there are currently about 37 states that allow this in addition to the District of Columbia. To check your specific state, check the National Conference of State Legislature’s online voter registration page and follow the instructions to identify your state.
If you decide to register via a mail-in application, you must complete the National Mail Voter Registration Form. You can auto-fill the document and print it out or you can print it out blank and fill it in. Make sure that you follow any state specific rules as required by your present domicile which begins on page 3. Once you mail the form in, it is recommended that you allow about 2 to 3 weeks to allow the receiving office to process the form.
When registering using this form, and you are voting for the first time, be prepared to show proof of ID and also some type of bill with your name and address on it like a utility bill, bank statement, or government document.
If you use this form and you feel as though it was unfairly rejected, you should immediately contact your state Attorney General’s office or the Departments of Justice, the voting department at (800) 253-3931.
What happens next
Now this is very similar in most states. Once you are officially registered to vote where you’ve established your permanent residency, election officials typically will ask you where the last place that you were registered to vote was. Upon receiving your response, they will send a notification of cancellation request as you should only be able to vote in one area only.
Documents needed to change your voter address
Keep your typical documents on hand when making a request to change such as your new driver’s license or state ID, social security card, and if you are in the military, your military identification card. Some states may accept a birth certificate, a passport, a public benefit card, or a school ID. Additional documents may be accepted, but make sure that it has your name and photo on it.
These are general guidelines and they do vary by state, so please check yours your state’s voter registration guidelines prior to visiting the respective office for changes.
How Long Does it Take to Process
Processing is going to depend in large part upon the state in which you live in. In some states, it could take as little as two or as many as eight weeks. Officials say send out the official voter registration card several weeks prior to any election day.
To confirm that you are officially registered to vote, some states offer an online option for confirmation. You would have to contact the voter registrar’s office in your state so that they can guide you as to where to go online.
You may also visit Vote.org to get a general idea as to whether you are officially registered.
For those that are members of the US military that have moved overseas, to ensure that you are registered to vote, make sure that you complete and submit the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) annually. Therefore, you should have no problems with being able to vote as the corresponding office will mail you an absentee ballot at the appropriate time.
Eligible voters who have disabilities, regardless of where you are in the country, there are five laws that protect your interest at all times to ensure that you have access to being able to register and vote and these include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), and the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA).
Organizations to Protect Your Voting Rights
Upon moving, if you have any issues with registering to vote or any challenges with the voting process, here are a few organizations to assist you to ensure that your voting rights are protected.
• Let America Vote
• Common Cause
• League Of Women Voters
• American Civil Liberties Union
• Spread The Vote
• Election Protection
• Asian Americans Advancing Justice/Asian Law Caucus
• Brennan Center For Justice
These organizations protect the interests of many and are needed due to the overwhelming amount of reports of voter suppression that was claimed over the last local and federal elections. Although voter suppression has been an ongoing issue for many years, there is a need to stop it! In dire situations, it is recommended that you call your local representatives to assist you.
Which State are You Moving to, or Within?
Below are the links to voter registration information page for each of the states. You can choose and click the link relevant to the state you are moving to, or within!
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
- Washington DC
When registering to vote after a move, it is very common to become overwhelmed and not know where to begin. We hope that we’ve made it easier for you to understand the rules and regulations in general of each state that you could possibly move to. While registering can be a daunting task, and can be easily forgettable, always remember that your vote matters.
This responsibility remains upon you. There is no other way to say this. There are rules and regulations such as the 60 day rule that is, in general, required by most states for you to maintain eligibility to vote as you make your transition. After that, the community in which you live or have established permanent residency in, relies on diverse opinions and ideas which can make any community whole. It is incumbent upon you make voter registration a true priority.
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