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How to Register to Vote in Every State

Society

The 2016 election is on path to be one of the most important elections in history. The presidential race will likely reshape the Supreme Court for decades and could even potentially put a woman in the White House for the first time in history. Senate, House and state races will have impact on birth control access, voting rights, the ability to obtain an abortion legally, health insurance coverage, any chance of earning a living wage, and even whether family members may be deported from the country.

But how do you make sure your voice is heard? It all comes down to whether you cast your vote on Tuesday, November 8. But when you're trying to figure out how to register to vote for the first time, change your name or address, request an absentee ballot, or find out how to vote around your work or schools schedule, it's easy to get overwhelmed, convince yourself your vote doesn't matter anyway and just skip out on the whole process. Don't do that! Instead, just find your state below and you'll see when and how to register, if you need an ID at the polls, and if you can vote early or by absentee ballot. Unless your state has specific instructions listed, your absentee ballot must be received by the proper election official by the time polls close on Election Day. Here's an overview before you delve into the specifics for each state:

- You are eligible to vote as long as you are a U.S. citizen, you are at least 18 on Election Day, and you are a resident of the state you apply in. Residency requirements may vary by state but often involve living in the state from 25 to 30 days and not being registered in a different state as well. If your state has specific requirement regarding residency, it will be listed below. 

- If you move within 30 days of the election and you miss your state's registration deadline, you may still be able to vote. Check in with your Secretary of State's office to find out if you should vote at your old precinct if you moved to another address within your state, or if you can change your address on site at your new precinct. If you moved to a new state too late to register, you may still be able to fill out a presidential race-only ballot as long as you were registered in your old state before you moved.

- If you're a student living out of state, you should decide whether to vote in your home state – usually by absentee ballot – or in the state you reside in for school. Don't vote in both – that's a federal offense.

- Make sure that if you do choose to vote absentee, you send in your application early enough to provide plenty of time to both meet your state's deadline and be able to turn your ballot around so it is received by Election Day.

- If you have been convicted of a felony, you may still be eligible to vote. Check here to find out if your voting rights have been automatically restored or if there is something else you need to do to get them back. 

- Every state except Wyoming allows a person to register at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), so if you want help with the registration process, that's always a good place to go – whether you drive or not.

For a sample ballot that shows you every race you can vote in and the candidates' positions, try this League of Women Voters tool to create your own ballot based off your address.

(Reminder: If you have moved or changed your name since you last registered to vote, you will need to re-register. This is especially important if you got married or divorced since the last election, graduated or moved out of the house, or had any other big life-changing experience.)

ALABAMA

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day who is an Alabama resident. 

How: You must register by October 25. To register, you must either mail in forms or file in person at a designated government agency. You can download forms to get started here.

ID required to vote? Yes. Alabama requires a valid photo ID to vote, so make sure you haveone of these IDs with you at the polls.

Voting early/absentee: If you will be out of your county on Election Day, or working a job shift that makes you unable to get to your polling place for at least 10 hours on Election Day, you can request an absentee ballot. You must apply for an absentee ballot by November 3, and it must be received by November 7. Alabama does not have early voting.

ALASKA

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day who is an Alaska resident. To be considered a resident, you must have been in the district for at least 30 days before Election Day.

How to register: You must register by October 9. If you are 17 but will be 18 by Election Day, you can register to vote once your 18th birthday is 90 days away. To register, fill out this form and email, fax, or mail it to an office listed at the bottom. You can also take it in person to one of the offices listed.

ID required to vote? Yes. Alaska requires ID to vote, although it does not need to be a photo ID. If you don't have a photo ID, a bank statement, utility bill, or check that shows both your name and address will work.

Voting early/absentee: You can vote early via absentee voting starting on October 25. You can find sites to vote early at this link, starting in September.

ARIZONA

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day who is an Arizona resident.

How to register: You must register by October 10. You can register here online if you have a state ID or driver's license. Otherwise you must register by mail or in person. Be warned: it will take four to six weeks to get a voter ID card, so if you are relying on that to be a form of ID at the polls, you'll want to give yourself plenty of time for it to show up.

ID required to vote? Yes. Arizona requires ID to vote. You will need either a valid photo ID like a driver's license, ID card, or government-issued photo ID, or two forms of non-photo ID for address and name verification such as bank statements and utility bills that are 90 days old or newer, a voter ID card, or vehicle registration. If you use a passport as a photo ID, you will still need a second form of ID like a utility bill with your address on it to verify your residency. All of the various possible combinations of proper ID are listed here.

Voting early/absentee: You can vote early via absentee voting starting on October 6 and ending on November 5. You will need to check in with your county to learn how to obtain a ballot and where and when to drop it off.

ARKANSAS

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day who has been an Arkansas resident for 30 days. 

How to register: You must register by October 8. To register, fill out this form and mail it to the address listed. You can also apply in person at any county clerk office, DMV, or public library.

ID required to vote? Yes. Arkansas requires ID to vote, although it does not require a photo. You will need a driver's license, college or military ID, passport, voter ID card, or a concealed carry permit.

Voting early/absentee: Voting early in Arkansas depends a lot on what county you live in. Some allow early voting for one or two weeks prior to the general election, so you'll want to check on your county to be sure. Most early voting is done at the county clerk's office. Absentee ballotsare available here for people who will not be in their precinct at all on Election Day. Absentee ballots will be available two weeks before the election and must be returned in person by the close of business the day before the election, or by mail, designated bearer, or authorized agent by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.

CALIFORNIA

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day who is a California resident.

How to register: You must register by October 24. Register online here. You can also register in person at any county elections office, library, DMV offices, or U.S. post office.

ID required to vote? No. If this is your first time voting in a federal election and you didn't provide a driver's license number, state ID number, or Social Security number when you registered, you will be asked to show something to verify your address, like a utility bill, but you do not need a photo ID.

Voting early/absentee: Early voting days and locations depend on your county if you want to do it in person, and in some cases are even open on weekends. Check here to see where and when you can vote early. If you prefer to vote by mail, go here. You must request a mail-in ballot by November 1. A ballot will then be mailed to you, and you must either return it by mail to be received by November 8 or return it in person to any polling place by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

COLORADO

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day who is a Colorado resident.

How to register: You can register online here or send in the forms by mail. If you do that by October 31, you will be sent a ballot by mail in order to vote. You can also register later, including in person the day of the election, and cast your ballot at the polling place then. Read more about your options here.

ID required to vote? Yes, but not necessarily a photo ID. You just need something that will verify your address, like a utility bill. You will need a photo ID, passport, Social Security number, military ID card, or college photo ID from a Colorado school if you are registering to vote at the polling place on Election Day.

Voting early/absentee: You can vote early starting October 24. All you need to do is take the ballot you received in the mail to a designated drop-off site before Election Day, or mail it back so your county clerk can receive and record it by 7 p.m. on November 8.

CONNECTICUT

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day who is a Connecticut resident.

How to register: You can register online here or send in the forms by mail. Registration should be completed by November 1. You can also register on Election Day, but you will need to go to one of these specific sites to do so.

ID required to vote? No.

Voting early/absentee: Connecticut does not offer early voting and has only limited absentee voting. If you fit one of the criteria, including being out of the precinct on Election Day, click hereto request an absentee ballot by November 2. Absentee ballots will be mailed out on October 8.

DELAWARE

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day who is a Delaware resident.

How to register: You can register online here or by mail or in person. Registration should be completed by October 15.

ID required to vote? Delaware doesn't officially ask for voter ID, but poll workers may ask for it anyway and will make you fill out a form before letting you vote, so if you have one to bring, it's a good idea to do so.

Voting early/absentee: Delaware does not offer early voting and has only limited absentee voting. If you meet one of the criteria, including being out of the precinct on Election Day, click here to request an absentee ballot. Requests must be received by noon on November 7, and ballots will go out by mail September 24.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day. You must have been a resident of the District for at least 30 days prior to the election.

How to register: You can register online here but will need to print and mail in the registration once it is filled out. If registering online, you must register before October 11. You can also register in person at the D.C. board of elections, prior to the early voting period (which begins October 24). You can also register on the day of the election at your polling place, or when you cast a vote during early voting, but you will be asked to cast a special ballot – what D.C. calls their provisional ballots.

ID required to vote? Not officially. You will need proof of address to register, but a resident just casting a ballot doesn't need an ID to vote. Unfortunately, some of the polling places will require an ID to enter the building, so it is suggested that a voter bring one anyway.

Voting early/absentee: You can vote early starting on October 24 and ending November 7, or cast an absentee ballot, which you can request here.

FLORIDA

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day who is a Florida resident.

How to register: You can fill out a voter registration form here, but you will need to either mail it in or take in person to a DMV, a voter registration center, or a public library. You must register by October 10. You will need to supply a driver's license, state ID, birth certificate, or other form of ID to register. Expect at least two weeks to receive a voter ID card in return.

ID required to vote? Yes, you will need a valid photo ID with a signature or a photo ID without a signature (like a passport) and another form of ID with a signature (such as a credit card) in order to vote.

Voting early/absentee: Early voting will be available across the state from October 29 to November 3. Some sites across the state will allow early voting even earlier than that, so check with your county starting October 8 to see what your options are.

GEORGIA

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day who is a Georgia resident.

How to register: You can register online here if you have a valid Georgia driver's license or ID card. If you don't have either, click here and fill out this application to mail in. You must register by October 11 to be able to vote on Election Day.

ID required to vote? Yes. Georgia requires a valid photo ID to vote, so make sure you have one of these IDs with you at the polls. You can also get a Georgia voter ID card – which is a photo ID – for free at a county registrar's office or DMV.

Voting early/absentee: Early voting in Georgia begins on October 17, and early voting sites will operate on Saturday, October 29, as an option for those who can't come on a weekday. To find early voting locations, register here.

HAWAII

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day who is a Hawaii resident.

How to register: You can register online here if you have a valid Hawaii driver's license or ID card, and a Social Security number. If you don't, you will need to complete this application and mail it in. You must register by October 9 to vote on Election Day.

ID required to vote? Yes, but it does not need to be a photo ID – it only needs to have your name and address on it to verify you live in the precinct.

Voting early/absentee: You can vote early, either by mail or in person. To request a ballot to vote by mail, click here. You will need to ask for a ballot by mail by November 1. To vote early, find an early polling location and vote between October 25 and November 5.

IDAHO

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day. You must have been a resident of the county in which you are voting for at least 30 days.

How to register: Fill out the form here, and either mail or hand-deliver it to the proper county official listed. You will need to have it postmarked by October 14 in order to vote on Election Day. You can also register at your polling place on Election Day.

ID required to vote? A voter ID is required, but if you don't have one, you can sign an affidavit stating you are who you say you are and you live where you say you live.

Voting early/absentee: You can request an absentee ballot here. You must request an absentee ballot by November 2, and it must be received by November 8. Early voting exists in some locations from October 24 to November 4, so check for locations here.

ILLINOIS

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day. You must have lived in county in which you are voting for at least 30 days.

How to register: You can register online here, or you can fill out this form and mail it in. And for the first time, Illinois will allow same-day voter registration at the polls in case you can't register ahead of time.

ID required to vote? You do not need an ID to vote, unless you are registering to vote on Election Day at your polling place. In that case, you will need a photo ID with address or a photo ID without an address (like a passport) and a non-photo ID with an address (like a utility bill or vehicle registration).

Voting early/absentee: Anyone can vote absentee by using the form found here. You can file for a ballot starting August 15 and you must request one by November 2. Early voting in Illinois begins on September 29 and ends on November 7. Find early voting locations here.

INDIANA

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day. You must have been a resident of the county in which you are voting for at least 30 days.

How to register: You can register online here or fill out this form and mail it in. Voter registration must be completed by October 9 in order to vote on Election Day.

ID required to vote? Yes, a photo ID is necessary to cast a ballot. Also, not all student IDs are allowed. Check here to make sure the ID you bring to the polls qualifies.

Voting early/absentee: Anyone can vote absentee in person at a county election office starting on October 10. Voting absentee by mail has a much more selective criteria, such as illness, disability, or lack of transportation on Election Day. Click here to get applications.

IOWA

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day who is an Iowa resident.

How to register: You can register online here if you have a state driver's license or ID card. Otherwise you can register by filing out this form and mailing it in. You must register by October 29 to Election Day, but Iowa also allows same-day voter registration – just bring ID and proof of address to your polling place. If you don't have ID and proof of your address, a registered voter from your precinct will need to vouch for your identity and residency.

ID required to vote? No.

Voting early/absentee: Anyone can vote absentee by filing out a form here by November 4. Absentee ballots will be sent out 40 days before the election and can be mailed in or hand-delivered to the county auditor by the time the polls close on Election Day.

KANSAS

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day who is a Kansas resident.

How to register: You can register online here if you have a state driver's license or ID card. Otherwise you can register by filing out this form and mailing it in. You must register by October 18 to vote on Election Day. Kansas does not allow same-day voter registration.

ID required to vote? Yes, you will need a photo ID to vote.

Voting early/absentee: Anyone can vote absentee by filing out a form here by November 4. Absentee ballots can be mailed in or hand-delivered to the county auditor by the time the polls close. Early in-person voting is also available starting October 15 but varies by county so check here to get more information.

KENTUCKY

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day who has been a Kentucky resident for at least 29 days.

How to register: Kentucky just launched online voter registration, which can be found here. Or you can download and fill out a form here, which you then mail to the State Board of Elections. Otherwise you need to fill out the form in person at your county clerk's office or DMV. You must register by October 10 to be able to vote on Election Day.

ID required to vote? Yes, you will need a photo ID to vote.

Voting early/absentee: Kentucky does not allow early voting, although a bill has been introduced in the state house to change that. Absentee voting is available only for those who are elderly, students who live outside their county, or other very limited circumstances, and you must apply by November 1.

LOUISIANA

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day who is a Louisiana resident.

How to register: You can register online here. Otherwise, you can register in person at a voter registrar's office or download a registration and mail it to your local office. You must register by October 9 to be eligible to vote on Election Day.

ID required to vote? Yes, you will need a photo ID to vote.

Voting early/absentee: Louisiana allows in-person early voting from October 25 to November 1. You can find locations here. Absentee ballots by mail are available only for those who are elderly or disabled or who will be outside the parish on Election Day, such as students or members of the military. You need to request an absentee ballot through this voter portal before November 4 if you qualify.

MAINE

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day who is a Maine resident.

How to register: You can register by mail by downloading this voter registration card and mailing it to the Secretary of State address listed on the registration before October 17. You can also register in person at a voter registration drive, which must also occur before October 17. Otherwise you can register in person at a city or town hall or the DMV until Election Day.

ID required to vote? No, as long as you are already registered, you do not need an ID to vote.

Voting early/absentee: To vote early absentee, you can contact your local clerk or registrar to obtain an application, or apply for a ballot online here.

MARYLAND

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day who is a Maryland resident. 

How to register: You can register online here. Otherwise, you can register in person at a voter registrar's office, or download a registration form and mail it to your local office. You must register by October 18 to be eligible to vote on Election Day.

ID required to vote? No, you do not need a photo ID to vote.

Voting early/absentee: Maryland allows in-person early voting from October 27 to November 3. You can find locations here. Absentee ballot requests are available online here, or you can obtain one in person at one of the locations listed here. You must request an absentee ballot by November 4.

MASSACHUSETTS

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day who is a Massachusetts resident.

How to register: You can register online here. Otherwise, you can register in person at a voter registrar's office, or download a registration form and mail it to your local office. You must register by October 19 to be eligible to vote on Election Day.

ID required to vote? No, you do not need a photo ID to vote.

Voting early/absentee: This will be the first year that Massachusetts allows early voting, which will be available from October 24 to November 4. Early voting locations and times will be available closer to Election Day, so check back here. Absentee ballots are only available for those who will be out of the precinct on Election Day or are physically unable to get to the polls. Absentee ballot requests are available online here, or you can obtain one in person at a location listed here. You must request an absentee ballot by 12 p.m. November 7. Absentee ballots must be received by close of polls on Election Day.

MICHIGAN

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day who is a Michigan resident.

How to register: You can register in person at a voter registrar's office, or download a registration form and mail it to your local office. You must register by October 9 to be eligible to vote on Election Day.

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ID required to vote? Michigan asks for a photo ID, but you can also sign an affidavit verifying your identity if you do not have one.

Voting early/absentee: Michigan does not allow early voting. Absentee ballots are available only for those who will be out of the precinct on Election Day, physically unable to get to the polls, or ages 60 or older. You can fill in a request for a ballot here and then mail it to your local clerk. Absentee ballots must be requested by November 5.

MINNESOTA

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day who is a Minnesota resident.

How to register: You can register online here, or print a copy to mail in or deliver in person to the address listed. You must register by October 20. Minnesota also allows same-day voter registration, so if you don't register in advance, you can still do it when you cast your vote.

ID required to vote? No, as long as you are already registered, you do not need an ID to vote.

Voting early/absentee: Minnesota allows absentee ballots for any reason. You can vote in-person absentee at county elections offices weekdays September 26 to November 7, as well as on Saturday, November 5. Otherwise you can obtain an absentee ballot by mail by applying here. Absentee ballot requests must be in by November 2, and ballots must be delivered by mail or hand-delivered to the county offices by the time polls close on Election Day.

MISSISSIPPI

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day who is a Mississippi resident.

How to register: You can register to vote here – just print a copy and mail it to your county clerk. You can also register in person at a DMV. You must register by October 9 to be able to vote on Election Day. Mississippi does not allow you to register online.

ID required to vote? Yes, you must have a valid photo ID to cast a ballot on Election Day.

Voting early/absentee: Mississippi does not have early voting. Absentee ballots are allowed only for those who are out of the precinct because of school or military service, or for those who can't make it to the polls due to illness or age. If you are eligible, you need to register for an absentee ballot before October 30 and must  contact a circuit clerk to request a ballot.

MISSOURI

Who: Any U.S. citizen age 18 or older on or before Election Day who is a Missouri resident.

How to register: You can register to vote online here if you are in Columbia or Boone County. Otherwise you can print a form here and mail it to your election authority. Your request must be received by October 12.

ID required to vote? Yes, you must have ID, although it does not need to be a

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