What Is Same-Day Voter Registration?

Nearly every state requires citizens to register before they can vote. But some make it easier than others.

For many American citizens, voting is their only means of participating in federal, state, and local politics. Nearly every state requires citizens to register before they can vote. Although almost every citizen is eligible to vote, many do not register to vote.

To increase voter participation, nearly half of the states in the U.S. have enacted some form of same-day voter registration. In states with same-day registration, voters can register to vote and cast their ballots on election day.

Here, we'll explain how same-day voter registration works. We'll also briefly discuss how early voting and absentee voting work.

What Is Same-Day Voter Registration?

Same-day voter registration allows voters to visit their local polling place on Election Day and register to vote. Once they complete their registration, they can go directly to a voting booth and cast their ballot.

The following states now allow some form of same-day voter registration:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

You must appear in person to take advantage of same-day voter registration. When you arrive at the polling location, ask to speak with an election official. They will help you fill out the paperwork and complete the process.

Once you complete the forms, you will be a registered voter and can participate in the following:

Requirements for Registering on Election Day

Each state has its own same-day voter registration requirements. At a minimum, voters must verify two things:

  • They live where they say they live
  • They are who they say they are

You must provide the official with an ID card, such as a photo ID or other government document. Most people submit a copy of their driver's license. They will check your information in their census and confirm you can register.

You'll also need to submit proof of residence. A utility bill with your address on it will suffice. So will a copy of your lease or mortgage statement. You can also show the local election official a copy of your government check showing your current address. If you recently moved from out of state, ensure you have proof that you have moved into the jurisdiction.

How To Register Before Election Day

While eligible voters can register on Election Day in the states listed above, it's best to register in advance. Thanks to the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993 (Motor Voter Act), eligible citizens can register to vote at their local DMV when applying for a driver's license or identification card.

The NVRA also allows eligible voters to register at state public assistance agencies (e.g., agencies that provide Medicaid, food stamps, etc.) These resources enable citizens to register and exercise their right to vote in U.S. elections.

Registering to Vote Online

In addition to registering to vote at government agencies, most citizens can register online before an election. These online resources make registering to vote even more convenient. You must complete the online vote registration form or application, provide your Social Security number, and provide proof of identification.

You can also request an absentee ballot before election day. Ask the local board of elections office how to do this.

Voter Eligibility Requirements

Elections determine many of the critical functions of the U.S. government. Ensuring that eligible voters are the only ones casting ballots in elections is a priority for the American government.

You can only vote in a U.S. election if you are:

The voter eligibility requirements ensure the integrity of American elections. Voter registration is how state and federal governments ensure people meet all eligibility requirements before voting.

The history of voting eligibility and registration in the United States is long and complicated. State rules and regulations are a controversial issue. But, many states are making voting more accessible for eligible citizens, and same-day voter registration is one of those steps.

Legal Resources for Voters

Voting is a critical right for most American citizens. Making one's voice heard in the public political realm is one of the essential features of a democracy, and voting allows people to do just that.

The law takes unjust limitations on your right to vote seriously. If you suspect someone has restricted your right to vote, contact an experienced legal professional.

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