How to change voter registration when you're moving out of state
Do I need to update my voter registration in a new state?
When you're moving to a new state, updating your voter registration is probably the last thing on your mind. But, because your ability to vote is tied to your permanent address, you won't be able to cast your ballot in any general, primary or special election without updating this information. The good news is, as long as you're eligible to vote, registering is easy!
Am I eligible to vote?
You meet the basic eligibility requirements for voting if:
- You are a U.S. citizen (either by birth or naturalization)
- You meet your state’s residency requirements
- You are at least 18 years old (Some states allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections if they turn 18 on or before the date of a general election. Click here for the age requirements in your state).
- You aren’t in prison or on parole for the conviction of a felony
Note: Some states have additional eligibility requirements. See the voter registration rules for your state to be sure you meet the criteria.
How do I change voter registration from one state to another?
There are three ways you can register to vote: by mail, in person or online. However, your options may be limited depending on the state you’re registering in.
Eligible voters can easily download and print the National Mail Voter Registration Form (NMVRF), and then mail it according to the instructions for that state. It can also be used to change your name, address or political affiliation. If you don’t have access to the internet, this form can also be found at public libraries, public schools and city clerks’ offices. Depending on the location, the form may already be printed off and ready for you to fill out. In other locations, you may have to use an available computer to download and print the form.
North Dakota, Wyoming, New Hampshire and U.S. territories (Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) don’t accept this 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.
For those who prefer to register in person, you can do so at any of these locations:
- State or local election offices
- The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
- Any public facility where the state allows voter registration (public library, public school or city or county clerk’s office)
Note: You may be able to complete two tasks at once by updating your voting information at the same time you register your vehicle and get a new driver’s license at the local DMV. But, keep in mind that DMVs in certain states may require you to answer additional questions in a separate room in order to complete the process. If you leave without finishing all the steps, especially in states where you’re required to select a party, you may not be registered to vote. Your local DMV can help direct you.
Registering to vote online is becoming more popular. And it’s also convenient – just fill out an application via the internet and electronically submit it to the election officials. However, not all states have a system set up yet. See which states offer an online process in the section below.
States with online voter registration
The following states provide online registration. Keep in mind that you’ll need a valid driver’s license in your new state before you can apply on the internet.
- District of Columbia
- New York
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
State registration deadlines
It’s important to know the deadline for your state so that you can cast a ballot in any election. There are some states that specify deadlines, but will allow citizens to register at the polls on Election Day. Check with your state or local election office for more information.
- 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
- Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon West Virginia: 21 days before the election
- Massachusetts and Wisconsin: 20 days before the election
- Alabama, California, South Dakota: 15 days before the election
- Connecticut: 14 days before the election
- Iowa: 10 days before the election
- Delaware: The 4th Saturday before a primary or general election or 10 days before a special election
- Georgia: The 5th Monday before the election
- Nebraska: The 3rd Friday before the election
- Nevada: The 5th Saturday before any primary or general election
- New Hampshire and Wyoming: Must register in person or at the polls
- North Dakota: No voter registration required
- Vermont: Before 5 p.m. on the Wednesday before the election
Questions about changing your voter registration
Why doesn’t my voter registration automatically transfer to my new state?
Because each state has its own regulations, they can’t transfer voter registration. That’s why it’s important to update soon after you move.
Where do I send the National Mail Voter Registration Form?
Mail your one-page application to the mailing address provided by your state. You can find this mailing address under the “State Instructions” page included as part of the form.
How does the voter registration change of address process work?
Once you submit the NMVRF with your updated address, you should receive a new Voter Certificate in the mail. This typically takes a few weeks to get approved and mailed back to you. Your certificate will likely list your Voter ID, political party (if you designated one of the form), enrollment date, contact information and your new polling place.
If you don’t receive a confirmation of your updated registration, contact your local election office.
What can I do if my voter registration form is rejected?
To make sure your form is accepted, be sure to fill in all required fields of information. Don’t leave any blank spaces unless otherwise noted.
If you believe your form is rejected unjustly, contact your local election office, the voting section of the Department of Justice at (800) 253-3931 or your state’s Attorney General’s office.
How do I update my registration in a U.S. territory?
If you live in or are moving to a U.S. territory, you can’t use the NMVRF to update your registration. Here’s what to do instead:
- Guam: Go to the Guam Election Commission headquarters
- American Samoa: Go to the Government of American Samoa Election Office
- Puerto Rico: Go to the State Elections Commission Office in San Juan
- Virgin Islands: Go to the Elections Systems Office in St. Croix or St. Thomas
Should I update my registration if I’m moving right before the next big election?
If you move within the same county, you’ll need to complete a voter registration form to update your new address. But, if you’re moving to a different county or state, you’ll need to re-register in your new location. 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 one. Most states allow a 60-day grace period so you can use your old address to vote.
Do I update my registration if I move to another state temporarily?
The EAC recommends voting using the address of your permanent residence. If you’re living in a new state temporarily, are traveling for work or are attending college but have a permanent address in another state, you can request an absentee ballot – a ballot that’s filled out and mailed in to the election offices in advance by voters who are unable to be present at the polls.
Do you have questions we didn’t answer? Leave a comment below, we’re happy to point you in the right direction! The Election Assistance Commission is an excellent resource for any voting-related questions.