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Rock the Vote: Your National Voter Registration Day Guide

National Voter Registration Day Cover

Are you a registered voter? If not, you’re not alone. According to the U.S. Census in 2020, nearly one in four eligible Americans were not registered to vote. Every year, millions of Americans continue to miss out on their right to vote due to registration problems or missed deadlines.

National Voter Registration Day hopes to change that.

What is National Voter Registration Day?

Celebrated every year since 2012 on September 20th, National Voter Registration Day is a nonpartisan civic holiday. Its purpose is to engage Americans and help them exercise their right to vote come election day.

As a part of this mission, the National Voter Registration Day organization teaches people how to register, sign up for election reminders, request mail-in ballots, learn about early voting options, and more. Networks of volunteers and community organizations, including schools, libraries, election offices, and companies, mobilize each year to participate and host voter registration events.

To date, National Voter Registration Day has contributed to nearly 4.7 million voter registrations in the United States. This year for the 10th anniversary of the holiday, the organization hopes to register at least 800,000 people, surpassing 5 million total registrations.

Voter registration volunteers
National Voter Registration Day operates through a network of volunteers, helping people register to vote across the country.

First Time Voters: What are the Requirements?

The Basics

The most general rules in order to be eligible to register to vote are that you must be a U.S. citizen who is at least 18 years of age by election day. However, each state has its own additional requirements that residents must follow in order to be eligible to vote.

USA.gov has a dropdown bar that allows you to select your state or territory of residence. You will then be automatically directed to your state’s site for voter information. The dropdown also includes American Samoa, District of Columbia, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

For a brief overview on voter registration rules in your state or territory, check out Vote.org’s Registration Rules page.

Check Your Date

When you register to vote, you can often do it one of several ways: in-person at your local election office or DMV, online, or by mail. Regardless of the method you choose, you may face registration deadlines. These deadlines vary from state to state, but in many cases they are around 2-4 weeks out from whenever your election will take place.

Currently, 22 states (and Washington, D.C.) allow you to register to vote past standard deadlines. Some even allow you to register and vote on election day itself:

It’s important to note that the conditions for same-day registration in these states vary, so be sure to check your state’s requirements well in advance.

Voter IDs

You may be noticing a trend here, but voter ID laws vary from state to state too. Currently, 35 states have laws on the books related to voter identification on election day. The map below provides an overview of states and their requirements, but we recommend double checking with your state before election day as well.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has this interactive map available on its site to give voters an overview of voter ID laws.

At Concealed Coalition, we encourage all eligible Americans to exercise their civic rights and responsibilities. Remember, if there are policy changes you’d like to see at a state or national level, one of the best ways you can express these views is to cast a vote. Now that you’re armed with the knowledge about voter registration, you can register yourself or help friends and family members register so everyone’s voice can be heard on Election Day.

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