With the upcoming 2020 election, it is essential that you update your voter registration if you have recently changed your name, address or political affiliation.
Voting is every U.S. citizen’s civic duty. In all states except North Dakota, citizens must register to vote before participating in local, state and national elections. Voters may also need to present photo identification when heading to the polls.
With this in mind, you must change your voter registration to ensure that you can cast your vote without any issues. The process to change your voting address or name varies by state. Some states allow you to update your information online while others may require a mail-in application. For instructions on how to update your voter registration, review the sections below.
When to Update Your Voter Registration
One of the most common reasons why you may need to update your voter registration is an address change. If you move from one home to another before the next election cycle, you must notify your local elections office to update your records. Having the same information on all your records will prevent issues on Election Day 2020.
Note: If you move to another state, you must obtain a new voter registration in that state.
Attempting to perform a voter ID address change in a state where you no longer live will not work and may prevent you from voting in the upcoming 2020 elections.
If you legally change your name, you will also need to update your voter registration. You may need to provide proof of your name change, depending on your state’s requirements (learn more here).
Another important reason to change your voter registration is if you change party affiliation. For instance, if you previously registered as a Republican and now wish to change it to Independent, you must update your registration, if applicable.
Some states do not require political affiliation disclosures.
The deadline to complete a 2020 election card update is different in every state. In Florida, for instance, you can update your information at any time. However, you must change your party affiliation by the voter registration deadline.
Steps to Change Your Voter Registration
Each state sets its own regulations and procedures for voting. This means the steps to update your registration depend on where you live. However, there are three main methods that may be available in your state: online, by phone and by mail.
The first step is to perform a voter registration lookup. Doing so will allow you to view your voter registration information, see if it is active and determine what needs to be updated.
Some state departments of motor vehicles (DMV) will automatically update your voter registration if you notify the department of a name or address change. If you live in one of these states, you may not need to complete the process yourself. When you check your voter registration information, you will know exactly what needs to be updated.
To perform a voter registration change of address, political party or name online, you must live in a state that offers online voter registrations. As of 2018, 37 states offer online registrations and also allow voters to update their information online.
For a voter ID address change online or for any other update, you must first access your state’s voter registration website. You may need to provide personal information to locate your records, such as full name, date of birth and Social Security number (SSN).
Once you have access to your information, you can make changes as needed, provide any required documentation and submit the request.
Note: The change may take effect before or after 2020 Election Day, depending on when you submit the request.
The steps to update your voter registration by mail include filling out a form and sending it to your local elections office.
Depending on the state, the form you will complete can be state-specific or national. All states except New Hampshire and Wyoming accept the national form is accepted by all states except New Hampshire and Wyoming.
Many states offer their own voter registration update forms, even though they also accept the national one. With this in mind, it is important to double-check with your local election office to see which method you should use.
Once you fill out the appropriate form, mail it to your local office.
Note: Military service members on active duty who are stationed away from home must use a different form to change voter registration information.
In some states, updating your registration by phone is also an option. Your local election office may have a designated phone number to receive calls for voter registration updates.
Before you call, be sure to have all your information on hand. You may need to provide information to verify your identity, such as your date of birth, address and Social Security Number (SSN). Once you do so, the representative will update your voter registration on your behalf.