Voter Registration

SEPARATE REGISTRATION AND VOTING

In the United States, at the age of 18 every American male is automatically sent a letter telling them that they could potentially be called for the draft. In contrast, not a single American is automatically registered to vote. 

On top of this, voting registration deadlines are notoriously confusing. General election voter registration deadlines range by state from 31 days before an election to in-person on the day of the election.  

To complicate matters, states have different laws for different types of registration. For instance, in Maryland you must register to vote in person, online or by mail 21 days before the election. However, if you are voting during early voting, you can register in person between 13 to 5 days before the election. Some states do not even allow voter registration online.

Taking primary voter registration and voter affiliation requirements into account, this process becomes even more difficult when Americans want to participate in the elections leading up to the general election. 

These complicated and varying laws by state mean that extensive research is needed to know when and how you can register to vote in each state. This can be extremely difficult for populations who have little or no access to the internet or time to know who to ask. 

Ultimately, this convoluted registration system is decreasing turnout in many areas in the United States. We know this because same-day voter registration has a history of increasing voter turnout and therefore voter participation in our democracy.

A report by Nonprofit Vote looked at voter turnout by state in 2016 and highlighted the states with same day registration. They found a high correlation between voter turnout and states with same-day registration in 2016.

Voter Registration and Turnout

Source:NonProfitVote

Nonprofit Vote has tracked this difference between states that have same-day voter registration and those that do not since 1996: States that have same-day registration have consistently shown higher turnout.

When You Can Register to Vote 

Days Until Election Day

When/How you can vote by State

31

Alaska – By mail (if 30 days before an election is on a Sunday)

Nevada – By mail

30

Alaska – In person, online, by mail (if 30 days before an election is not a Sunday)

Arkansas – In person, by mail (if 30 days before an election is not a Sunday)

District of Columbia – by mail, online

Georgia – Online 

Louisiana – In person, online, by mail (if 30 days before an election is not a Sunday)

Michigan – By mail

Mississippi – In person, by mail

Montana – By mail if 30 days before an election is not a Sunday)

Ohio – In person, by mail

Pennsylvania – In person, by mail, online

Rhode Island – In person, by mail

South Carolina – In person, by mail, online

Tennessee – In person, by mail

Texas – In person, by mail

Utah – By mail

29

Arizona – In person, online, by mail

Arkansas – by mail (if 30 days before an election is a Sunday)

Florida – In person, by mail

Georgia – In person

Hawaii – In person, by mail, online

Indiana – In person, by mail, online

Kentucky – In person, by mail

Louisiana – By mail (if 30 days before an election is a Sunday)

Montana – By mail if 30 days before an election is a Sunday)

Washington – By mail, online

28

Georgia – By mail

Illinois – By mail, online

Missouri – In person, by mail, online

New Mexico – In person, by mail, online

27

N/A

26

N/A

25

Idaho – by mail

New York – In person, by mail, online

North Carolina – In person, by mail

Oklahoma – In person, by mail

24

Delaware – In person, by mail, online

23

 

22

Virginia – In person, by mail, online

21

Kansas – In person, by mail, online

Maine – by mail

Maryland – In person, by mail, online

Michigan – In person

Minnesota – By mail, online

Nevada – In person, online

New Jersey – In person, by mail

Oregon – In person, by mail, online

West Virginia – In person, by mail, online

20

Massachusetts – In person, by mail, online

Wisconsin – By mail

19

N/A

18

Nebraska – By mail, online

17

N/A

16

N/A

15

Alabama – In person, by mail, online

California – In person, by mail, online

Iowa – By mail

South Dakota – In person, by mail

14

Wyoming – By mail

13

Maryland – In person (but only during early voting)

12

Maryland – In person (but only during early voting)

11

Iowa (not primary or general election) – In person

Maryland – In person (but only during early voting)

Nebraska – In person

10

Delaware (for special elections) – in person, by mail, online

Iowa – In person, online

Maryland – In person (but only during early voting)

New Hampshire – By mail

9

Maryland – In person (but only during early voting)

8

Colorado – By mail, online

Maryland – In person (but only during early voting)

Washington – In person

7

Connecticut – In person, by mail, online

Maryland – In person (but only during early voting)

Utah – In person, online

6

Maryland – In person (but only during early voting)

Vermont – In person, by mail, online

5

Maryland – In person (but only during early voting)

4

N/A

3

N/A

2

N/A

1

N/A

Election Day

Colorado – In person

District of Columbia – In person (only if you have proof of residency)

Idaho – In person

Illinois – In person

Maine – In person

Minnesota – In person

Montana – In person

New Hampshire – In person

Wisconsin – In person

Wyoming – In person

Source: Vote.org 

Note: This data is accurate on the date of publication but may change due to legislation. In addition, this table does not include important data on mailing votes (e.g. whether the voter registration by mail must be received by or postmarked on the “by mail” date. We strongly suggest you look at your state’s website for more information on where, how, and what you will need to register to vote.