Steps to Voting 101
Common Questions/Misconceptions About Registering to Vote
Q: If I miss registering to vote I can’t vote, right?
A: Not necessarily, some states offer same-day registration in which individuals can show up to the polls on election day and register to vote. Check your state at rockthevote.org to be sure, and use this only as your last option.
Q: How often do I have to register – every election?
A: It’s important to check your voter registration status to make sure it is active and has your current address. You can do this at https://rtvote.com/2WRVGI2. Most states require you to re-register to vote if you move, even if you moved between the state’s primary and general elections.
- Check out your state’s ID laws early
Not all states have restrictive ID laws, but some do. Check ID requirements in your state by visiting Rock the Vote’s website to see if you need a new ID to vote. Don’t wait until the last minute. Allow yourself enough time to get a new one in case it’s needed.
Q: I need an ID to vote, right?
A: It depends. Not all states require an ID. Some require a simple form of ID. Some require very specific forms of ID. It’s best to check Rock the Vote’s website early to determine if you have an acceptable form of ID to vote in your state.
- Look to see if you have flexible voting options
- Options may include absentee ballot, early voting or vote-by-mail. Every state is different so check Rock the Vote’s website for options in your state. Be realistic. Will you vote on Election Day? Always better to be safe than sorry. Take advantage of flexible options.
- An absentee ballot, sometimes called vote by mail, allows voters a flexible option to complete a ballot, usually in the comfort of their home, and then mail or drop it off. Voters need to request an absentee ballot well in advance of the election. States often have deadlines by which voters need to request and postmark their absentee ballot. Some states almost only vote by mail. Check Rock the Vote’s website for information on your state’s deadline and process for requesting and sending in an absentee ballot.
- Early Voting, sometimes called in-person absentee, provides another option for individuals to complete a ballot in person in advance of Election Day. Oftentimes polling locations are different than those on Election Day and can in some cases be more centrally-located. Days and times may also be more flexible with some states offering early voting hours on the weekends or into the evenings. Go to Rock the Vote’s website to find your early vote options, polling locations, days and hours.
Q: Don’t I need an excuse to vote early or by absentee?
A: Not necessarily. Some states don’t require an excuse. Those that do require an excuse just need to know there is a reasonable chance you won’t be available to vote in-person on Election Day, November 3. Examples of acceptable excuses are: I won’t be able to get out of work; I’m having a medical procedure; I will probably be out of town; I can’t miss class; I don’t think I’ll have a ride available to get to the polls.
- Look Up Your Sample Ballot and Do Some Research
- Take an hour or so to research who and what are on your ballot. Go to Rock the Vote’s website and enter your address to see your sample ballot and – using Rock the Vote’s new Ballot Endorsement Tool – curate a list of endorsing organizations, elected officials, and editorial boards to see who and what aligns with your values. Rock the Vote and Rock the Vote Action Fund will also have voter guides in target locations.
- Prep for In-Person Voting (Election Day or Early Voting)
- Get your polling place, hours, and what you need to bring. Go to Rock the Vote’s website and enter your address to find your specific polling location and hours, along with what you need to take with you to vote.
- Make a plan to hold yourself accountable. When are you going to go vote – morning, day time, weekend, evening? Do you need to print or save your sample ballot with selections so you can easily fill out your ballot?
- Make it Social and Celebrate
- Recruit your friends. Nothing works better than a little peer pressure. Find a pal or two to hold one another accountable and to make the process a bit more fun.
- If you all request absentee ballots, consider researching and filling them out together for each person to mail in.
- Early Voting often is a lot more flexible and allows voters from different areas of the city to vote at the same location so make a voting date and then go out for brunch after.
- On Election Day, post a photo with your I Voted sticker and challenge your friends to do the same!
- Visit Rock the Vote’s website to see where there are voting parties in your community or recruit your friends to plan their own, using our downloadable toolkit.
- Put this Number in Your Phone Under Election Protection Hotline. 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683)
- If you have any questions or issues at the polls, call the Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE. That’s 1-866-687-8683. They will be able to help you or will record the report and alert lawyers to the issues.