Help & Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated May 04, 2014

Your Local Election Official is the best person to contact if you have any questions.  They'll be able to provide up-to-date information on rules, deadlines and voter ID requirements.

  1. How do I register to vote?
  2. Do I have to provide ID when I register to vote?
  3. I am a college student - should I register in my home state or where I go to school?
  4. Do I need to re-register for every election?
  5. How do I verify my voter registration?
  6. I'm in the military or living overseas - how do I register to vote?
  7. What is absentee voting?
  8. Are absentee ballots counted?
  9. How do I get an absentee ballot?
  10. Do I need to provide ID if I vote by absentee ballot?
  11. Help! My absentee ballot hasn't arrived yet!
  12. Can I vote by absentee ballot on a permanent basis?
  13. I missed the absentee ballot application deadline. Is there anything I can do?
  14. I'm in the military or living overseas - how do I get an absentee ballot?

1. How do I register to vote?

It takes less than three minutes to register using our Voter Registration Tool.  Enter your information, print the completed form, and mail it to the address printed on the form. 

Wyoming residents must use the Wyoming Voter Registration Form.

New Hampshire will only let you register by mail if you have a really good excuse for not registering in person (being away at college counts as a good excuse).  You'll need to call your town/city clerk and ask them to send you a mail-in-voter registration form.

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2. Do I have to provide ID when I register to vote?

Under Federal law, if you are a first-time voter and you registered to vote by mail then you must show ID the first time you vote in person or by absentee ballot.  (You may be exempt from this if you provided a copy of your ID with your voter registration form.) Acceptable forms of ID include a current and valid photo identification (driver's license, US passport, student ID, military ID, work ID, tribal ID, etc) OR a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or other government document that shows your name and address. 

Some states have additional voter ID requirements that go above and beyond the federal requirements.  Contact your Local Election Official if you have any questions about voter ID in your state.

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3. I am a college student - should I register in my home state or where I go to school?

The choice is legally yours: you can register on campus or you can register back home.  Long Distance Voter encourages you to register wherever your vote will have the greatest impact.  To learn more, check out our partners, CountMore.org.

If you want to register where you go to school, we recommend checking out the Student Voting Guide (a project of the Brennan Center for Justice). This neat widget they've built will guide you to the right page:

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4. Do I need to re-register for every election?

No.  You only need to re-register to vote if you've moved, if you've changed your name, if you'd like to switch political parties, or if you haven't voted in the past four years.

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5. How do I verify my voter registration?

We can help you verify your voter registrationregardless of where you live.  You'll probably need to know which county you live in to verify your registration.  Don't know which county you live in?  Use the county lookup tool to find it.   

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6. I'm in the military or living overseas - how do I register to vote?

We recommend going to the Overseas Vote Foundation.  They'll help you register to vote and request your absentee ballot at the same time. 

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7. What is absentee voting?

Absentee voting (a.k.a "mail-in voting" and "by-mail voting") is conducted by mail-in paper ballot prior to the day of the election.  It's really easy to get an absentee ballot.  First, register to vote.  Second, apply for an absentee ballot.  Our Absentee Voter Guides have voter registration forms, absentee ballot applications, deadlines and easy to follow directions. 

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8. Are absentee ballots counted?

Yes, all votes are counted, whether they're cast in-person or by absentee ballot.  

It is a common misconception that absentee ballots are only counted during very tight races.  This misconception stems from two things: one, absentee ballots are often counted for days after the election since many are coming from abroad; two, absentee ballots are often a small percentage of all voted ballots.  Many elections have a clear winner, so the absentee ballots that are still being counted after election night don't affect the results as predicted right after the polls close.  As absentee voting becomes more popular, however, an increasing number of elections are decided by absentee ballots.  

So vote absentee and be counted!  We'll help you get your absentee ballot.  

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9. How do I get an absentee ballot?

You need to apply for an absentee ballot using your state's absentee ballot application.  Our Absentee Voter Guides include forms, deadlines, directions, and mailing addresses.  Complete your application, sign where indicated, and mail it to your county election official before the absentee ballot deadline.  If you're not sure which county you live in, you can look up your county here.

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10. Do I need to provide ID if I vote by absentee ballot?

First time voters who register to vote by mail are required by Federal Law to provide ID the first time they vote in person or by absentee ballot.  You can generally meet the ID requirements by providing a copy of your in-state drivers license.  Other acceptable forms of ID include a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or other government document that shows your name and address. 

Some states have additional voter ID requirements for absentee voters.  Contact your Local Election Official if you have questions about voter ID in your state.

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11. Help!  My absentee ballot hasn't arrived yet!

Most states print and mail absentee ballots starting 30 days before an election.  If you applied more than 30 days before the election, don't panic.  Election officials probably haven't mailed the ballots yet.  If it's within two weeks of the election, you definitely want to call your Local Election Official and see what's going on. 

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12. Can I vote by absentee ballot on a permanent basis?

This varies from state to state.  Check the Absentee Voter Guide for your state to learn more.  If the guide doesn't have the answer you're looking for, contact your Local Election Official.

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13. I missed the absentee ballot application deadline.  Is there anything I can do?

Many states offer some form of early voting.  Early voting takes place in person at before election day.  Visit our early voting page to learn more. 

A handful of states offer emergency absentee ballots for people who become ill or suffer an emergency after the absentee ballot application deadline has passed.  Visit the Absentee Voter Guide for your state to find out if this is an option for you. 

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14. I'm in the military or living overseas - how do I get an absentee ballot?

We recommend visiting the Overseas Vote Foundation. They'll help you register to vote and request your absentee ballot at the same time.  They'll also tell you exactly where to mail everything.

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