First, We Register

First, We Register
August 19, 2020
By Democracy Docket

In the United States, the first step to vote unfortunately isn’t as easy as just turning 18. You first have to register to vote and every state has different rules and regulations for this step that vary widely.

For the upcoming election, many states are offering a variety of options that will make registering to vote easier and more accessible. 


 Make sure you don’t miss our next explainer. Sign up now!


Below is a list of different ways people can register to vote in America:

1. Automatic voter registration at the DMV. In 1993, Congress passed the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) or “Motor Voter Act.” Under the NVRA, a person can register to vote, or update their registration, while applying for or renewing a driver’s license. It is important to check how your state implements the NVRA. While some states, like Oregon, automatically opt-in eligible voters to register, other states, like Texas, simply redirect eligible voters at the DMV to the state’s registration website. We are currently suing Texas over this issue.

2. Same-day voter registration. 21 states and the District of Columbia have same-day registration, allowing eligible voters to register on the same day that they cast a ballot. If you’re planning to register same-day, check your state’s requirements to be sure you have all the materials needed to register, such as proof of residency and an ID.

3. Online voter registration. 40 states and the District of Columbia offer online voter registration. This option is often used to supplement other forms of voter registration.

4. In-person voter registration. In many states, you can also register to vote in person at local boards of elections, public libraries or high schools or at other government agencies. Some states require in-person registration. For example in New Hampshire, voters are typically required to register in person and can only request to register by mail if they can’t register in person.

We can’t sit around and wait for court rulings. Check your registration status below and register to vote today!

Not sure if you’re registered? Check your voter registration status.

Not registered? Register to vote now.


“Voting Process Explained” is a multi-part series that will cover the basics of voting in America. Each article in the series takes voters through a different part of the voting process, how it varies by state and what voters need to know for November.