How to Change Voting Address in Each State
If you’ve ever voted before, you know that updating your mailing address also means changing your voting address. This is because your voter registration information is tied to your residential address. Therefore, if moving to a new home is in your future, you’ll need to update your registration records with your new address in order to vote.
Unfortunately, changing your address at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or filling out an Official USPS Change of Address Form will not automatically update your voter registration information. There are some additional steps to change your voting address.
The one small problem? When it comes to actually changing voter registration information, things are, well… complicated. Policies and procedures vary by state, so listen up! Here are the key things you need to know before updating your voter registration or registering to vote for the first time at your new place:
Basic Voting Regulations
Haven’t ever voted before? Here’s a quick overview of the most basic elements of voting. As we mentioned, each state has its own rules, regulations, and timelines. In general, however, these statements are consistent throughout most states:
Unless you live in North Dakota, eligible voters are required to register to vote prior to an election. These states also have registration deadlines that can be up to 30 days before the election.
In most states, you must be 18 years old on or before the next Election Day to register. If you’re 16 or 17, you may be able to pre-register to vote, depending on your state. Be sure to check your state’s voter registration age requirements well in advance of Election Day.
Every state offers absentee ballots.
In most states, you must vote at your designated polling station. Its location is dependent upon your voting address, so it’s important to keep this up-to-date whenever you move.
When to Change Your Voting Address
We understand that moving is complicated and with everything on your moving checklist, you may forget to change your voting address. The process takes time to complete, so if you want to vote, plan accordingly. Whatever you do, don’t wait until the day before the election to register or it’ll be too late.
Most states have a voter registration deadline ranging from 2-4 weeks prior to an election. To be safe, remember to check your state’s deadline shortly after you move, or at least 8 weeks before the election.
You should also verify your registration status a week before this voter registration deadline in case you need to make any alterations such as filling out a new registration form, changing your voting address or correcting your form. You don’t want to show up to the polls unable to vote because you forgot to register or your update your address.
Where to Change Your Voting Address
Some states allow you to update your voter registration, change your voting address, or register to vote online. Other states, however, require that you update your voter registration information or register to vote by mail or in person. You can change your voting address in person at state or local voter registration and/or election offices, the DMV, armed services recruitment centers, and state or county public assistance offices.
What Happens When You Change Your Voting Address
When you register to vote in a new location, election officials will typically ask where you were last registered to vote. Your new election office will then send a cancellation form to your previous elections office, as your voter registration record should always reflect your current residence.
What You Need to Change Your Voting Address
Like most of the requirements for changing your voting address, the documents you need on hand also vary by state. As a general rule, however, plan to have your driver’s license, government-issued ID card, and/or social security number handy when you update your voter registration information. Not all states require these forms of identification, so be sure to check your state's requirements before attempting to change your voting address.
How Long Changing Your Voting Address Takes
It can take several weeks for elected officials to process your voter registration form. Most states send out voter registration cards confirming your voter information and registration status within 5-7 weeks after receiving your registration information. Don’t know whether you’re registered to vote under your previous address? You may be able to verify your registration status online.
Now that you have a general idea of how to change your voting address, use the links below to find your state’s specific requirements. Scroll through the list to find the state that you’re moving to or within to answer more specific questions such as whether you need an ID card and if you’re eligible to vote.
Which state are you moving to, or within?
Thanks to this guide and the links above, you have all of the information you need to change your voting address and update your registration information in plenty of time for the next election. Happy voting!