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How to change voter registration when you're moving out of state

September 9th, 2015 - 3:35 PM

Moving? Learn how to change your voter registration

If you want to cast your ballot in any general, primary or special election in your new state, you’ll need to change your voter registration. While your registration doesn’t automatically transfer when you move, updating is easy! We’ll explain the right steps to take to change your voter registration after you move.

voter registration

First things first – are you eligible and/or registered to vote?

Voter eligibility

Just so there’s no confusion, here are the basic requirements to be eligible to vote:

  1. Must be a U.S. citizen
  2. Must be at least 18 years old (though some states do allow 17-year-olds to vote)

Each state also has its own voter eligibility requirements (check those specific requirements with your new state’s election office).

Voter registration

If you’re eligible to vote but haven’t registered yet, you can easily register by mail, online, or in person. In most states, you can fill out the National Mail Voter Registration Form and mail it in.

However, North Dakota, Wyoming, New Hampshire, and U.S. territories don’t accept the form for registering (or updating your registration). Check with your state election office to learn how to register to vote if you live in one of these areas. If you’d rather register online, there are 20 states with that option (see the list here). You can also register in-person at your state’s election office, DMV, or any public facility the state has designated as a voter registration agency.

How to change voter registration from state to state

You can use the National Mail Voter Registration Form to change your name, change your address, or register with a political party. You can also update your voter registration in person at these places:

  • State or local election offices
  • The Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Any public facility that the state allows voter registration (e.g. public library, public school, or city or county clerk’s office)

To save time after your move, complete two tasks at once by updating your voter registration at the same time you register your vehicle at your local DMV.

Questions about changing voter registration

Why doesn’t my voter registration automatically transfer to my new state?

Because each state has its own voter registration regulations, your registration won’t transfer from state to state. That’s why it’s important to update soon after you move.

Do I have to tell my former state election office that I moved to another state?

According to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), it’s a good idea to contact both your former and new election offices to update them on your voter registration status.

Where do I send the National Mail Voter Registration Form?

You’ll mail your one-page application with your new address to the mailing address provided by your state. You can find this mailing address under the “State Instructions” page on the form itself. Click to download the National Mail Voter Registration Form to locate the address.

What is the process of actually changing my voter registration?

Once you submit the National Mail Voter Registration Form with your new address, you’ll typically receive a new Voter Certificate in the mail in a few weeks. Your certificate will likely list your Voter ID, political party (if you designated one on the form), enrollment date, contact information, and new polling place. If you don’t receive a confirmation of your updated registration, contact your local election office.

How do I update my registration if I can’t use the National Mail Voter Registration Form?

In North Dakota, Wyoming, New Hampshire, and U.S. territories, you can’t use the form to update your registration. Here’s what to do instead:

  • North Dakota: Registration isn’t required to vote (let your former election office know you moved, though).
  • Wyoming and New Hampshire: Go to your local county clerk’s office after you move or register at the polls on Election Day.
  • U.S. territories: In Guam, visit the Guam Election Commission headquarters. In American Samoa, go to the Government of American Samoa Election Office. In Puerto Rico, go to the State Elections Commission Office in San Juan. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, go to the Elections Systems Office in St. Croix or St. Thomas.

I’m moving right before the next big election – should I update my registration?

Most states will allow a 60-day grace period so you can use your old address to vote. Call your new state’s election office as soon as possible to find out what you need to do. The office may direct you to use your old address, or tell you to go ahead and update with your new address.

Do I update my registration if I move to another state temporarily?

The EAC says always vote using the address of your permanent residence. If you’re moving to live in a new state temporarily but have a permanent address in another state, you can request a ballot by mail. If you move to a new state permanently, you should update your voter registration for your new state.

Voter Registration Deadlines by State

Most states have a voter registration deadline. It’s important to know your new state’s deadline so you can vote in any election after you move.

  • Alaska, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah: 30 days before the election
  • Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Washington: 29 days before the election
  • Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico: 28 days before the election
  • Idaho, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma: 25 days before the election
  • Virginia: 22 days before the election
  • Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, West Virginia: 21 days before the election
  • Massachusetts and Wisconsin: 20 days before the election
  • California, Kansas, South Dakota: 15 days before the election
  • Connecticut: 14 days before the election
  • Alabama and Iowa: 10 days before the election
  • Delaware: The 4th Saturday before a primary or general election
  • Georgia: The 5th Monday before the election
  • Nebraska: The 3rd Friday before the election
  • New Hampshire and Wyoming: Must register in person, by mail, or at the polls.
  • Nevada: The 5th Saturday before any primary or general election
  • North Dakota: No voter registration required to vote
  • Vermont: Before 5 p.m. on the Wednesday before the election

Note: As of December 22, 2014, Michigan and Alabama requested a change to their state instructions. The Commission hasn’t approved the requests yet.

Make your vote count – update today!

Voting is a great way to exercise your freedom of speech, so be sure to update your voter registration after moving to your new state. If you have questions, let us know below. We’re happy to point you in the right direction. The EAC is also an excellent resource for any voting-related questions. You can call them toll-free at 866-747-1471.

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Voter Registration Resources

Register to vote for the first time
Voter’s Guide to Federal Elections
EAC Moving Information
National Form FAQs