Am I registered to vote yet? What to expect after you submit your voter registration.

Statue of Liberty illustration with voter registration reminderImage: Statue of Liberty illustration with voter registration reminder

In a Nutshell

You’ve submitted your voter registration application — now what? You should receive a voter registration card within a few weeks as long as you registered by your state’s deadline and met voter eligibility requirements. If you’re not sure whether you’re registered, you can check your status online. Even if you’re certain you’re a registered voter, checking your status is a good idea. If you’ve been inactive in recent elections, or if you’ve recently moved or changed your name, you may need to re-register.
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If you recently registered to vote, you may be wondering what happens next — and how you’ll know if your application is validated in time for you to cast a ballot on Nov. 3.

Once registered, you should be able to cast a ballot in this year’s general election, which includes the race for president as well as contests for congressional seats plus state and local offices.

With Election Day just around the corner, let’s take a look at what happens after you submit your application to exercise one of your most fundamental rights as an American citizen.



What happens after I register to vote?

After registering to vote, you should get a voter registration card in the mail in a few weeks — as long as you filled out the registration form completely, met all voter requirements and registered before your state’s voter registration deadline. Note that North Dakota doesn’t require voter registration.

FAST FACTS

When are voter registration deadlines?

Voter registration deadlines vary by state, but generally range from eight to 30 days before Election Day. For some voters, there’s an alternative. If you are a qualified resident of the District of Columbia or one of the 21 states that have enacted same-day registration, you’re allowed to both register and cast a ballot that day.

The voter registration card, which confirms that you’re officially registered to vote, typically lists your name, address and local polling station. If you don’t get your card, contact your state or local election office, which can replace cards that have been lost, damaged or stolen.

Although you won’t need to show your registration card on Election Day, some states do require a photo ID to vote. If you’re not sure what the voter identification requirements are for your state, check out this VoteAmerica chart.

How to check if you’re registered to vote

It’s a good idea to confirm your registration before your state’s voter registration deadline. This way, you have time to re-register or make changes if needed.

You can check your voter registration status online at VoteAmerica or directly with your state through the National Association of Secretaries of State. After you enter your state, you’ll be sent to a page on your state’s website. To find your record, you’ll need to enter some personal information. Requirements vary by state, but may include …

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • County of residence
  • Driver’s license or personal ID number
  • Partial Social Security number
  • ZIP code

Why you may need to re-register

You may need to re-register or change your registration if you …

  • Moved recently
  • Changed your name
  • Want to change your party affiliation
  • Had your registration scrubbed from the state’s list in a registration purge

You may also need to re-register if you move to another state close to Nov. 3. Check with your old state for voting guidance. For this election, you may be able to vote by mail through your former state. But for the next election, you’ll need to register in your new state.

Why you should check if you’re registered to vote

If you’re a new voter or haven’t voted in a while, checking your registration information may help prevent an unpleasant surprise on Election Day.

Checking your status ahead of time assures that …

  • Your name, address and political party affiliation are correct.
  • You know the location of your polling place.  
  • Your registration hasn’t been purged from the voter rolls — most states purge the names of voters who haven’t cast ballots for a certain period of time.

The good news is that if you show up to vote on Election Day and your registration has been purged from your state’s list of eligible voters, you may be able to cast a provisional ballot. In most states these ballots are kept separate from other ballots until after the election, then counted once the voter’s eligibility is determined.


Next steps

With Election Day fast approaching, make sure you can participate by checking whether your name is on the voter rolls well before your state’s deadline to register. And if you haven’t registered yet, you may want to act soon.

If you’re not sure whether you’re eligible to vote in the upcoming election, contact your state or local election office. You can also visit VoteAmerica for voting information specific to your state, including registration deadlines, identification requirements, voter eligibility details and polling places. 


About the author: Brad Hanson is a senior editor at Credit Karma. His 30 years of experience in print and digital media includes work for the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service, Trucks.com and Polyvore. Most recently before… Read more.