First-Time Voting

If you are a new voter, the first time voting checklist by 411 makes it extremely easy to ensure you are good to go for election day. This platform connects you to resources on information for your local community or state. Additionally, this video may offer some insight:

What do I need to be able to vote?

In order to vote, you need to be:

  1. A citizen of the United States;

  2. At least 18 years of age by election day;

  3. Registered to vote.

Each state may have its own voting eligibility requirements which can be found at vote.gov.

What if I am not 18 yet?

In the United States you must be 18 to vote on election day. However, if you will be 18 by election day, you can register to vote early! It's called preregistration. Different states have different requirements for preregistration, allowing 16-year-olds or 17-year-olds to preregister.

Some states also permit 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections, provided that they will turn 18 before the general election. FairVote provides information on states that permit 17-year-olds to vote in congressional primaries and presidential primaries or caucuses.

Can I register to vote if I am still in foster care?

You may register to vote while still in care or extended foster care as long as you are 18 by election day, and a citizen of the United States. You can register to vote on your own using tools that make it easy to navigate election systems, like TurboVote or Rock The Vote. Having a conversation with your foster family or caseworker around your voter registration can also help you prepare and promptly get you registered.

What if I have been convicted of a felony?

If you are a convicted felon, your voting privileges may be revoked for a period of time. In some states the restrictions on voting may or may not apply to juvenile justice youth. However, each state's requirements differ. If you would like more information regarding voting for felons, the National Congress of State Legislatures has included information on the restoration of voting rights for felons by state.

Where do I register to vote if I am in college out of state?

If you’re a college student out of state college, voting registration may be a bit tricker. Here are some things you should keep in mind:

Decide where you would like to register.

If you are in a college that is out of state, you have the option of registering in your home state or in the state of your college or university. However, you cannot be a registered voter in both places.

Check any financial aid requirements.

Students that have required residency for their tuition or scholarship opportunities should check with their financial aid office before registering in your home state.

Request an absentee ballot.

If you are registered in your home state, you can request an absentee ballot. Absentee voting Absentee voting (also called “mail-in voting” or “by-mail voting”) is voting by mail before election day. You can use this website to help you complete an absentee ballot request for your state.

When can I vote?

While presidential elections happen every four years, state and local elections happen various times of the year. You can check your state or local election office website to learn more about upcoming elections.

While you can vote on election day, some states also allow to vote early. You can learn more by checking out Vote.org early voting information by state.

How do I vote?

You can either vote by mail, or vote in person at a polling station.

Mail-in voting.

Requesting absentee ballots and mail in ballots have become more common, and extremely useful in the midst of the global pandemic. USA.gov provides a platform that allows you to find information about mail in ballots for your state. Again, regulations for each state vary.

Some absentee ballots require your own postage stamp. You can acquire these at your local United States postal service or online.

In-person voting.

If this is your first time voting at the polling stations, you will need to know the following:

  • Your polling station: You can find this information using Vote.org's polling place locator.

  • What to bring: Each state has its own voter ID laws, which require different identification documents. See Vote.org's voter ID laws by state page.

  • Contents of the ballot: If this is your first time voting, you may be surprised that there are multiple races or measures. You can use Ballotpedia's sample ballot tool to get informed about what's on the ballot before you go to your polling station.

Be sure to find out how long your polling stations will be open. BallotPedia provides information by state for poll opening and closing times in 2020.

What if I'm having difficulties?

If you are having trouble with registration or barriers for voting you can contact the Election Protection Coalition.