Can I Still Vote If My Address Changed?

It might involve an extra step or two, but you can still vote if the address on your ID is different from the address of your current residence.

This is often the case for citizens who have recently moved to a new state, or for young voters attending college but maintaining their parents' address as their permanent address.

You Will Need to Register Again

The main thing to remember is that your voter registration is not portable. If you've moved permanently to another state, you will need to register to vote in that state. If you've moved elsewhere within your current state, you will need to update your voter registration with your new address.

That's the case even if you've only moved to a different unit in the same apartment building. If anything at all about your permanent address has changed, you will have to update your registration. Also, keep in mind: Entities such as the United States Postal Service and your state's department of motor vehicles will not do this for you.

Doing so, in either case, should be a simple matter of either registering online or visiting your local election office or DMV. When you're there, you will probably be asked for both your old and new addresses. Have your old ID on hand — and maybe even your Social Security card — so that the staff at your election office can verify your identity.

Keep in mind that the process of getting registered to vote can take weeks. If at all possible, set the wheels of voter registration in motion a couple of months before Election Day.

Another thing to keep in mind is that in most states, your registration info at your previous address will remain in place until you change your registration to reflect a new permanent address. That goes for not only travelers, college students, and members of the military, but also people temporarily living in non-traditional housing such as homeless shelters or even prison.

As long as you plan on voting in the district of your registered address, you don't need to worry about how to vote at your new or temporary address. But if you haven't voted for a while, make sure your registration hasn't been purged.

Voting From College

If you're a college student, you can maintain a residence in two states, but you can only vote in one. If you don't plan on staying in your college's state when you're done with school, you'll probably want to vote in your home state. That will mean casting an absentee ballot, unless you're planning on being home on Election Day.

Getting an absentee ballot is pretty simple. Learn how by visiting your state's voting guide.

Some states will ask for a valid reason why you're voting absentee. Those states include:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

Being away at college is almost always an acceptable reason. So are being ill or disabled, being out of state for business or on vacation, or being in the military. The other 32 states, and the District of Columbia, do not require a reason to request a ballot.

An important point about absentee balloting is that you give yourself plenty of time to get, fill out, and return your ballot. If you fill out an absentee ballot by mail, it will be going back and forth via snail mail, so take into account the number of days that will take. The same thing applies for registering to vote, or updating your registration information. Some states offer same-day registrations, but most require registration to happen well before Election Day.

Not Sure If You Can Vote at Your New Address? Speak to an Attorney

If you are not sure whether you can vote if your address changed or have questions about the registration process, it may be worth your time to speak to an election law attorney near you.

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