How to Register and Vote Early Before the Presidential Election

On November 8, it will be time to decide on the new President of the United States. If you are not registered to vote, now is the time to make sure you are ready when the time comes to visit the polling stations. Here’s all the information you need to know.

Voter Registration Deadlines for Each State

We’re going to highlight this information ahead of time because timing motivates people . Here are the registration deadlines for all 50 states, as well as Washington (unfortunately, territories like Puerto Rico cannot vote in the general election ). Check the deadline for your state and make sure you are registered by the dates below .

  • Alabama: October 24, 2016
  • Alaska: postmarked October 9, 2016; Email or fax received before October 9, 2016
  • Arizona: October 10, 2016
  • Arkansas: October 10, 2016
  • California: October 24, 2016
  • Colorado: October 31, 2016 (Election Day registration available)
  • Connecticut: November 1, 2016 (Election Day registration available)
  • Delaware: October 15, 2016
  • District of Columbia: October 17, 2016
  • Florida: October 11, 2016
  • Georgia: 11 October 2016
  • Hawaii: October 10, 2016
  • Idaho: October 14, 2016
  • Illinois: October 11, 2016 (grace period until November 8, 2016)
  • Indiana: October 11, 2016
  • Iowa: October 29, 2016
  • Kansas: October 18, 2016
  • Kentucky: October 11, 2016
  • Louisiana: October 11, 2016
  • Maine: Posted October 18, 2016; Same day voter registration available
  • Maryland: October 18, 2016
  • Massachusetts: October 19, 2016
  • Michigan: October 11, 2016
  • Minnesota: Oct 18, 2016 (Election Day registration available)
  • Mississippi: Postmarked before October 8, 2016
  • Missouri: October 12, 2016
  • Montana: October 11, 2016
  • Nebraska: October 21, 2016
  • Nevada: October 8, 2016; October 18, 2016, online or in person
  • New Hampshire: October 29, 2016
  • New Jersey: October 18, 2016
  • New Mexico: October 11, 2016
  • New York: postmarked by October 14, 2016 and received by October 19, 2016; In person before October 14, 2016
  • North Carolina: October 14, 2016
  • North Dakota: No voter registration required.
  • Ohio: October 11, 2016
  • Oklahoma: October 14, 2016
  • Oregon: October 18, 2016
  • Pennsylvania: October 11, 2016
  • Rhode Island: October 9, 2016
  • South Carolina : October 8, 2016
  • South Dakota: October 24, 2016
  • Tennessee: October 11, 2016
  • Texas: October 11, 2016
  • Utah: post dated October 11, 2016; Online or in person before November 1, 2016
  • Vermont: November 2, 2016
  • Virginia: October 17, 2016
  • Washington DC: October 10, 2016 by mail or online, October 31, 2016 in person.
  • West Virginia: October 18, 2016
  • Wisconsin: Postmarked October 19, 2016; In person at the clerk’s office until November 4, 2016; At polling stations on election day November 8, 2016
  • Wyoming: October 24, 2016

Additional timelines for things like absentee voting and early in-person registration for your state can be found on the US Voting Foundation website here . In some states, you can register completely before Election Day, while in others you will be cut off at least a month earlier. However, you are better off registering as early as possible, as this will also prepare you for early and / or absentee voting, which is much more convenient.

Find your state registration rules and register

Each state has its own rules for voter registration. Fortunately, , run by a nonprofit voter advocacy group at a distance, makes it easy to decipher these rules. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Register to Vote page on here .
  2. Scroll down to the section that says “Go Directly to Your State.”
  3. Scroll down to read the Enrollment Guide with information on the requirements and deadlines for your state.
  4. When you’re ready, fill out the form at the top of the page. This will direct you to your state’s online registration, if any, or the forms you need to complete to register by mail.

If you are concerned about the transfer of your data to a third party agency, you can read’s privacy policy here . Most of the information you will use to register will be part of the public voter database anyway, and advises that they remove personal information, such as your driver’s license number, as soon as it is used for determining where you need to register. However, if you prefer to avoid third party involvement, you can find information on registering your state with the US Election Assistance Commission here , but is much simpler.

If you have already voted for the primaries in your state, you must still be registered. You can also use to check your registration status if you are unsure. It doesn’t hurt to double-check, especially if you moved after the primary or move before the general election in November. Brennan Justice Center has a post-move vote guide if you plan to move before the election.

Difference between absentee voting and early voting

After registering to vote, you can view absentee ballots or early personal voting. Both of these methods allow you to cast your vote for the candidates you want without having to queue for hours on election day. This makes voting very convenient, and if you’re already learning how to vote, you can start right now. Here’s what these two categories of voting mean:

  • Absentee ballots : Absentee ballots are mail forms that allow voters to vote before Election Day. Currently, all 50 states will send out absentee ballots to voters who request them, but 20 states require voters to explain why they cannot vote on election day. You can request an absentee ballot as soon as you register, but it will not be sent out until the ballots are completed. Again, you can check for details on absentee voting in your state .
  • Early Voting: 37 states allow you to appear in person for early voting if you are registered. None of these conditions require any excuse. The three states that use mail-order voting (Colorado, Oregon and Washington) can also be considered “early voting” because they already allow mailing in advance. You can find early voting schedules for your state, as well as links to local pollingstations to find out where to vote early,on the Early Voting Calendar here .

The National Conference of State Legislatures has created a tool here that shows which states support which forms of absentee voting or early voting. Most states support both, so you have several options for how to cast your vote. We highly recommend getting your votes early, as you can avoid the long lines and chaos of leaving work on the day everyone else rushes to the polls.

It is easier than ever to register and vote in advance for the 2016 elections. Both major political parties will hold their conventions in July to determine their presidential candidates. Once that happens, you can expect both parties (as well as any independents) to take their campaigns up a notch, so it doesn’t hurt to get ready.


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