American Voice 2004: How do I register to vote?

Date: 1 Jun 2004 | posted in: From the Desk of David Morris, The Public Good | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Q.   All this talk about the elections makes me eager to vote. I know I have to register but I don’t know how or when to do so. Can I register the day of the general election?


I applaud your budding sense of citizenship.

I wish I could tell you that all it takes to exercise your franchise is to roll out of bed election day, head to the nearest voting station, show some identification that indicates you’re a resident of that area and vote. And if you’re lucky enough to be a resident of North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin or Maine that’s indeed what you can do.

Unfortunately, those of us who live in the other states to act before election day to ensure that we can vote.

Each state establishes the rules for its own voter registration lists. Most states require voters to register about 30 days before the election.

We have created a table (available here) with the deadlines for registration in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and links to registration forms and instructions for every state. The state links will take you to the elections division in your Secretary of State’s office where registration materials are posted.

Too complicated? You can also find registration materials online that are accepted in all but three states by visiting and clicking on your state or territory. North Dakota and Wyoming don’t allow use of the provided registration forms and its use is limited in New Hampshire, but you’ll find registration instructions for those few exceptions at the site as well.



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David Morris

David Morris is co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and currently ILSR's distinguished fellow. His five non-fiction books range from an analysis of Chilean development to the future of electric power to the transformation of cities and neighborhoods.  For 14 years he was a regular columnist for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. His essays on public policy have appeared in the New York TimesWall Street Journal, Washington PostSalonAlternetCommon Dreams, and the Huffington Post.