Registration varies by state
There are 14 states in which the registration deadline is at least 30 days prior to Election Day. These states are Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
There are 18 states where the registration deadline is between 20 and 29 days before the elections. These states are Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia and West Virginia.
There are six states with same-day registration — Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Wyoming — which means you can actually register and vote at the same time, but only if you have a photo ID with your address on it.
In North Dakota, you don’t have to register in order to vote.
There are seven states in which your first vote must be done in person — no absentee ballots the first time out. These states are Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
States that don’t accept voter registration forms via mail include New Hampshire and Wyoming. Massachusetts will accept a mailed-in and completed form, but it cannot be a photocopy or downloaded form.
Each time you move from one state to another, or even from one address to another in the same neighborhood, you must re-register to vote.
If you registered to vote in the past, but haven’t actually voted in a quite some time (say four years), it’s a good idea to either re-register or just contact your local elections office to make sure your registration is still active.
— By Keith Goble, state legislative editor
With the presidential election only weeks away, it is important you take the time and register to vote. Follow the guidelines listed below, stop sitting on the sidelines and start making a difference.
Deadline to register
Each state has a different deadline for voter registration, but in most states, you need to register at least 20 days before Election Day. This year, Election Day is Nov. 2. If you’ve missed the deadline, don’t throw up your hands in disgust, go ahead and register now so you are ready for the next opportunity to effect change.
Rules for registering
For most states, you can register to vote in person or via mail. Depending on your state, you can print your registration form off the Internet or pick one up in person from the DMV, local board of elections office, post office, library or other location. See Page 34 for your state’s elections office phone number and Web address.
Who can vote?
As long as you’re 18, an American citizen and a resident of the state in which you’re planning to register, you have an equal chance to decide who you want to run the country, your state, your county and your town.
Where to vote
After you’ve sent in your registration form, you will receive an information booklet or sample ballot in the mail about where and when you should go to vote. Some states will send a “voter registration ID card.”