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Civic Engagement: How to Register to Vote and Then Vote

Written By:

Emily Eames

Publishing Date:

October 14, 2022

America has worked hard to get where we are today with voting rights. Originally, only white male citizens over 21 could vote. Today, citizens cannot be denied the right to vote on the basis of race, religion, sex, disability, or sexual orientation. Voting is not only your right but an important civic duty, it is the backbone of our country's democracy. This article serves as a resource guide on how to vote, where to vote, and what to bring when you vote. 


How to Register to Vote

*Before we begin, if you are voting in North Dakota you do not need to register to vote. North Dakota is currently the only state that does not require its residents to register to vote. You can find where you can vote by visiting North Dakota's official website. Then all you need to vote is an ID with your full name, residential address, and date of birth


The easiest way to find the voting information you need is by looking online. You can find most of, if not all, the information you need on your state or credible organization’s website. Below are some resources to help you register to vote. 


The first place you can check for information on how to register to vote is your state’s voting and elections page. You can either look up your state's official page through a trusted web browser or you can use one of the websites listed below to find your state's election and voting page. 



Most states offer online registration. If you live in a state that does not offer online voter registration, you can still use one of the resources below to register online. Other ways to register to vote are by mail or in person. 


Register Online

If your state offers online voter registration you can find the registration form on your state's election and voting website. 

If you want to bypass your state’s election and voting websites you can use any of the four trusted organizations listed below to officially register quickly and safely.   


On your state's election and the voting page you can also find emails and phone numbers on your state's website for any additional information or assistance you may need.


Mail-In 

Similar to registering online, you can find your voter registration application through your state's official elections page. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission can help you find your state's registration form. 


Once you have filled out the application you will address your form to the county's Election Administrative Office. A list of addresses will be attached to your registration form.


In Person 

If you prefer to register to vote in person, you can check your state's official website for qualifying registration locations. These locations usually include any public higher education institution, the local department of health, the local board of elections, the local department of motor vehicles, or even public libraries. 


Early Voting 

Not all states offer early voting options. If your state offers pre-Election day voting you can find information through NCSL or by contacting the Early Voting Information Center to see your state's specific steps.


What Do You Need to Register?

When you register to vote, you will need your driver's license or state identification card, your social security number (usually just the last 4 digits), and your address. Some states may require additional documents. A good way to check if you need any extra documents is by looking at your state's election page. The National Conference of State Legislature also offers a list of Voter ID requirements for each state. 


Where Do I Go To Vote?

Once you’ve registered to vote, you are given the location of your polling place. However, it’s easy to forget that location, especially if it is your first time going to vote. 


One great resource to use when you are looking up your polling location is to use your state's citizen portal or voter information website. Just like when going to register to vote, The National Association of Secretaries of State has a website that will take you directly to your state's official voting and election page. All you need to do is select which state you live in.  


You also have the option of bypassing your state's website by using vote.org. This website offers a quick and easy way to locate your polling place, no matter where you are. Just type the same address you used for your voter registration into the search box. 


You can come to this website at least 2-4 weeks before an election to find where your polling place is. If for some reason they are unable to find your specific location, they will direct you to your local resources. 


What Do I Need to Vote?

The next step is to make sure you have the proper documents on hand when you are ready to go vote. 


Most states will require a photo ID (i.e driver's license or Identification card) while others do not. You can check your state's voter and election websites to find out what the voter ID requirements are for your state. 


You can also check what you need for your state by checking the Nation Conference of State Legislators website. 


You can also find out what the voter ID laws are in your states so you can be prepared for election day.   


Below is an example of the NCSL’s interactive voter ID map. The voting ID requirements for Oregon are shown on the right.


Voting With a Disability

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 along with the ADA requires all states to ensure that all aspects of voter registration are accessible to persons with disabilities. Polling places are also required of all public entities to ensure persons with disabilities are able to access their polling places and voting facilities. If a public entity is unable to meet ADA requirements then, they must provide an alternative method of voting at the polling place. Voting is your right there are several federal laws in place to protect your right to a fair voting experience. 


Go Vote!

I hope you feel more confident, preparing to register to vote and finding your polling place. Now all you need to do is decide which candidate you would like to vote for and head over to your polling place on November 8th or send in a ballot! 

Sources

Everything you need to vote. Everything You Need to Vote - Vote.org. (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.vote.org/


October 28, 2021 · by E. V. I. C. T. · in E., August 31, 2021 · by abbydurrant@reed.edu · in C., August 4, 2021 · by E. V. I. C. T. · in E., April 29, 2021 · by P. G. · in C., March 30, 2021 · by P. G. · in C., March 16, 2021 · by P. G. · in C., November 3, 2020 · by E. V. I. C. T. · in C., & November 3, 2020 · by P. G. · in C. (n.d.). Early Voting Information Center . Elections & voting information center. Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://evic.reed.edu/


Official Guide to Government Information and services: Usagov. Official Guide to Government Information and Services | USAGov. (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.usa.gov/


Register to vote, find election info, and more! Rock the Vote. (2022, September 12). Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.rockthevote.org/


States with online voter registration. American Civil Liberties Union. (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.aclu.org/issues/voting-rights/promoting-access-ballot/states-online-voter-registration


Underhill, W. (n.d.). Early In-Person Voting . Early in-person voting. Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/early-voting-in-state-elections.aspx


The United States Government. (2022, July 12). Elections and voting. The White House. Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/our-government/elections-and-voting/


VOTE411. (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.vote411.org/


Wendy Underhill, B. W. (n.d.). Voter ID Laws. Voter ID laws. Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/voter-id.aspx#Laws%20in%20Effect


Your ballot explained. Vote Informed on the Entire Ballot. (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.ballotready.org/


Your ballot explained. Vote Informed on the Entire Ballot. (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.ballotready.org/ec