Before we even start: This is about moving between states. If you need to know about moving overseas, check out the Federal Voter Assistance Program.
If you’ve recently moved states, you might be wondering where to vote. Should you register to vote in in your new state before the deadline? Should you vote in your old state? Will they take your name off the voter roles in your old state?
The answer to these questions is usually, “it depends.” Since voting differs so much state-by-state, you might have to do a little research to figure out what the best things to do are.
Here’s our guide. We’re assuming you have a place to live in your new state, and that you could prove it (with a piece of mail or your new state’s driver’s license, etc.).
First: Find out the key facts
You need to learn 4 things about your new state:
- When is the registration deadline? You can use orelsewhathappens?’s voting info, or you can Google it — but figure out when your registration deadline is.
- Does your state have a residency duration requirement?
- What identification, if any, do you need to bring to the polls? (Do you have time to get it?) Again, you can use our voting info to find out what ID your state requires.
- Where do you vote? If you live in Washington, Colorado, or Oregon, you’ll get a ballot mailed to you. For all other states, you’ll need to figure out where to go. There are lots of ways to do this, but we suggest finding your Secretary of State’s website. They usually have this information.
Okay: You have the info above. Now what?
Registration & residency duration
If your new state’s registration deadline has passed, you won’t be able to vote — unless this is one of those states where you can register and vote in person on Election Day. If that’s the case, you should make sure you have whatever ID you need. (Again, check our voting info to find out both if your new state has this register-on-election day policy and what ID you need).
If you definitely can’t register in the new state, we’d make a case for voting absentee in the old state (as long as you’re still registered there). Many states won’t allow you to participate in their voting systems if you move to them in October of an Election Year. So, if you still want your vote to count, you’ll need to vote absentee.
Also, some states require that you’ve lived there for at least 30 days before you can vote. If that’s the case with your new state, you might want to vote absentee in your old one.
If there’s still time to register in your new state and you meet the residency duration requirement, then the next question is, can you get the right identification in time? If you need a state license, can you make time to go to the DMV in time to register?
If the answer is “no,” you’re allowed to go to the polls and request what’s called a “provisional ballot,” which means you promise to show ID at a later date (or else your vote won’t count).
Find out where to vote
Our elections are locally-run. On the one hand, this is good, because there’s no centralized system to hack or mess with. Every district does things a little different. On the other hand, it does put the burden on you to find out where to go each time you move.
Almost every state has a board of elections or an elections official that can help you. You can usually find this list on your Secretary of State’s site. We’ve also got contact info for every state’s election officials.
Removing your name from your old residence’s voting rolls
After you’ve registered in your new state, get in touch with your old local election official or board of elections.