Registering to vote in the United States is a big deal. It marks the moment when you are finally able to exercise your right to participate in this democracy and voice your support for leaders and policies that benefit your community.
But there’s no need to be intimidated. The process is pretty straightforward, and our partner HeadCount is here to help you figure out exactly what you need to vote in the US.
Below is an overview of the three basic requirements to register as a voter, so that you can be prepared when the election comes around in November. However, requirements can vary by state, so it’s important to visit HeadCount’s Voter Info Hub for more details and check your voter registration deadlines.
In most states, you will need an address to determine your jurisdiction. That’s why it’s important to update your address if you’ve recently moved.
In Wisconsin, you will also need to provide proof of residency when you register to vote, which can be in the form of an in-state driver’s license with your current address or recent official mail with your name and address. South Carolina and Vermont will also require proof of residency if you register to vote by mail.
If you’re currently experiencing homelessness, you still have voting rights. Find your state’s regulations here (starting on page 17).
2. ID Number
All states require a driver’s license or non-driver ID number on the voter registration form. If you have neither, you can use the last four digits of your social security number instead. However, in Hawaii, Kentucky, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, you will need to provide your full social security number.
If you don’t have any of the information mentioned above, don’t worry — in most states, you can still register as long as you indicate on the registration form that you don’t have ID and were never issued a social security number. You may be asked to submit an affidavit or other documentation.
3. Proof of Citizenship
This third requirement only applies to a couple of states: Arizona and Kansas. In Arizona, if you don’t have an in-state driver’s license or an ID number issued after Oct. 1, 1996, then you may need to provide proof of citizenship. In Kansas, if you are registering to vote for the first time, you will also need to provide proof of citizenship — and your driver’s license doesn’t count. You can do this with documents such as a passport, birth certificate, or naturalization certificate.
Story Credit: Kristine Liao/GlobalCitizen.org
Photo Credit: Element5Digitial/Unsplash.com