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Registering to Vote


The first step in joining the electorate is registering to vote. Voter registration is used to maintain the integrity of the election process by assuring that only eligible citizens vote on Election Day, and to assure that they only vote once.

Voter registration lists are also used by politicians to help them win elections. In any given election, about half of the citizens who are eligible to vote in a given location will do so. To win, politicians only need the support of half of the voters who show to win, or about 25% of the total population. Politicians use voter registration lists to determine which of their constituents are most likely to vote, and then concentrate their efforts on communicating with these active citizens. If you are not on the voter registration list then you cannot vote - and your local politicians can ignore you without worrying about losing your support on Election Day.

While each local government and state has its own forms and procedures for registering, there is a National Registration Form, produced by the U.S. Electronic Assistance Commission. This form can be used in most states to register to vote by mail*. 

States differ in their deadlines for registering prior to an election, so be sure to check your state's election calendar (Link to calendar page) so that you complete the form in time. 

In general, you must register to vote 30 days prior to an election to participate, although some states allow you to register much later than that.

*The following states do not accept the National Voter Registration Form:

  • New Hampshire - The form can only be used to request an official form from your local election office.
  • North Dakota does not have voter registration.
  • Wyoming does not accept the National Registration Card.

Participating Organizations:

Last Updated:  07 January 2008