There’s No Time to Wait: Your 2020 Voter Registration Guide

We’re 32 days away from Election Day.

Thirty-two days until this long, four-year long nightmare might start finally wind down.

Thirty-two days until, hopefully, we trade this fight in for another one. As Stacey Abrams wrote back in June, “Voting is a first step in a long and complex process, tedious but vital. You can have a car with all the bells and whistles, but if it doesn’t have wheels, you can’t move forward.”

Because COVID-19 remains a clear and present danger, particularly to the LGBT+ community, this year’s edition of the voter registration guide places a heavier emphasis on online registration and absentee voting. Culled from each state’s elections website, this guide should provide you with everything you need to know to get registered or check your existing voter registration, and then how to request an absentee ballot.

In this guide, I use a few headlines that I’d like to call your attention to first:

  • Absentee Ballot: This is, for the most part, self-explanatory. One important thing to note: pay attention to whether your state’s ballot deadline says “received by” or “postmarked by.” It’s an important distinction — the subject of a lot of ongoing litigation — that could determine whether your ballot counts if its received after Election Day.
  • COVID-19 Absentee Ballot Qualification: While a number of states allow voters to request absentee ballots in any circumstances, others have stringent rules about absentee ballot requests… typically revolving around age, disability, obligations outside the district on Election Day, etc. In order to allow more people to access the absentee balloting process, governors and legislatures have had to waive those rules (though temporarily) to allow for COVID-19 concerns to be considered a legitimate reason to request an absentee ballot.
  • Absentee Ballot Tracking: To help assuage concerns about mail delays, many states have set-up systems for voters to track the status of their absentee ballot. You can follow your absentee ballot from your request to delivery to return.
  • Address Confidentiality Program: Created to help the victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, etc, ACPs keep victims’ names and addresses out of public databases like voter listings.

Lastly, if you are able, please consider becoming a poll worker for the 2020 general election. In a typical year, over half of poll workers are 61 or older. In this very atypical year, many of them are being forced to sit out due to the threat of COVID-19, leaving many states facing dramatic poll worker shortages. The opportunity is paid (in most jurisdictions) and training and personal protective equipment will be provided. If you’re interested, find more information from your state’s elections board or sign up at Power the Polls.

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Alabama (Registration Check)

Alaska (Registration Check)

Arizona (Registration Check)

Arkansas (Registration Check)

California (Registration Check)

Colorado (Registration Check)

  • Online Registration: You can register online until Oct. 26 but Coloradans can register to vote and vote in person up to 7 PM on Election Day.
  • Absentee Ballot: All registered Colorado voters receive mail ballots. They must be received by the close of polls on Election Day.
  • COVID-19 Absentee Ballot Qualification: All Mail
  • Absentee Ballot Tracking: Yes
  • Early Voting: Yes (Oct. 19 – Nov. 2)
  • Voter ID Required: Yes.
  • Address Confidentiality Program: Yes.
  • Additional Information: sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/

Connecticut (Registration Check)

Delaware (Registration Check)

District of Columbia (Registration Check)

  • Online Registration: You can register online until Oct. 13.
  • Absentee Ballot: All active registered voters will be sent a Mail-In-Ballot at their registered address and ballots must be returned by 8PM on Election Day.
  • COVID-19 Absentee Ballot Qualification: Yes (No Excuse Absentee)
  • Absentee Ballot Tracking: Yes
  • Early Voting: Yes (Oct. 27 to Nov. 2)
  • Voter ID Required: No
  • Address Confidentiality Program: No
  • Additional Information: dcboe.org

Florida (Registration Check)

Georgia (Registration Check)

Hawaii (Registration Check)

  • Online Registration:You must register online by Oct. 5 to receive your ballot by mail. Otherwise, you can register, in-person, during the Early Voting period or on Election Day.
  • Absentee Ballot: Hawaii has moved to a mail-in ballot system; All ballots must be received by the Clerk’s Office by 7PM on Election Day
  • COVID-19 Absentee Ballot Qualification: N/A
  • Absentee Ballot Tracking: No
  • Early Voting: Yes (Oct. 20 – Nov. 2)
  • Voter ID Required: Yes
  • Address Confidentiality Program: No
  • Additional Information: elections.hawaii.gov

Idaho (Registration Check)

Illinois (Registration Check)

Indiana (Registration Check)

  • Online Registration: You can register online until Oct. 5.
  • Absentee Ballot: You have until Oct. 22 to request a mail-in ballot, online or by mail. Ballots must be returned no later than Nov. 3.
  • COVID-19 Absentee Ballot Qualification: Yes (No Excuse Absentee)
  • Absentee Ballot Tracking: No
  • Early Voting: Yes (Oct. 6 – Nov. 2)
  • Voter ID Required: Yes.
  • Address Confidentiality Program: Yes
  • Additional Information: indianavoters.com

Iowa (Registration Check)

Kansas (Registration Check)

Kentucky (Registration Check)

Louisiana (Registration Check)

Maine (Registration Check)

Maryland (Registration Check)

Massachusetts (Registration Check)

Michigan (Registration Check)

Minnesota (Registration Check)

Mississippi (Registration Check)

Missouri (Registration Check)

Montana (Registration Check)

Nebraska (Registration Check)

Nevada (Registration Check)

New Hampshire (Registration Check)

  • By Mail: Contact your local election official to request a voter registration form, then fill it out and mail it back. The deadline to register to vote by mail is Wednesday, October 24. Alternatively, you can register and vote on Election Day.
  • Online Registration: N/A
  • Absentee Ballot: You must fill out an absentee ballot request and return it to your local City/Town Clerk by Nov. 2. Ballots must be received by Nov. 3 at 5PM.
  • COVID-19 Absentee Ballot Qualification: Yes
  • Absentee Ballot Tracking: Yes
  • Early Voting: No
  • Voter ID Required: Yes
  • Address Confidentiality Program: Yes
  • Additional Information: NH Elections Division

New Jersey (Registration Check)

  • Online Registration: You can register online until Oct. 13.
  • Absentee Ballot: All active registered voters in New Jersey will automatically receive their ballots in the mail, at the address where the voter is registered. Ballots must be postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and be received by your county’s Board of Elections on or before Nov. 10.
  • COVID-19 Absentee Ballot Qualification: N/A
  • Absentee Ballot Tracking: Yes
  • Early Voting: No
  • Voter ID Required: No
  • Address Confidentiality Program: Yes
  • Additional Information: NJ Division of Elections

New Mexico (Registration Check)

New York (Registration Check)

North Carolina (Registration Check)

North Dakota (Registration Check)

  • Online Registration: There’s no voter registration in North Dakota.
  • Absentee Ballot: You can request a mail-in absentee ballot online until Nov. 2. Ballots must be received by Nov. 2
  • COVID-19 Absentee Ballot Qualification: Yes (No Excuse Absentee)
  • Absentee Ballot Tracking: Yes
  • Early Voting: Yes (Oct. 19 – Nov. 2)
  • Voter ID Required: Yes
  • Address Confidentiality Program: Yes
  • Additional Information: Vote.ND.Gov

Ohio (Registration Check)

  • Online Registration: You can register online until Oct. 5.
  • Absentee Ballot: You can request a mail-in absentee ballot online until Oct. 31. Ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 2 and received by your county board of elections no later than 10 days after the election.
  • COVID-19 Absentee Ballot Qualification: Yes (No Excuse Absentee)
  • Absentee Ballot Tracking: Yes
  • Early Voting: Yes (Oct. 6 – Nov. 2)
  • Voter ID Required: Yes
  • Address Confidentiality Program: Yes
  • Additional Information: VOTEOHIO.GOV

Oklahoma (Registration Check)

Oregon (Registration Check)

Pennsylvania (Registration Check)

Rhode Island (Registration Check)

South Carolina (Registration Check)

South Dakota (Registration Check)

Tennessee (Registration Check)

Texas (Registration Check)

Utah (Registration Check)

  • Online Registration: You can register online until Oct. 23 at 5PM.
  • Absentee Ballot: Utah elections are conducted mainly by mail. Ballot packets will be mailed to active registered voters on Oct. 13. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than Nov. 2.
  • COVID-19 Absentee Ballot Qualification: N/A
  • Absentee Ballot Tracking: Yes
  • Early Voting: Yes (Oct. 20 – Oct. 30)
  • Voter ID Required: Yes
  • Address Confidentiality Program: No
  • Additional Information: vote.utah.gov

Vermont (Registration Check)

Virginia (Registration Check)

Washington (Registration Check)

  • Online Registration: You can register to vote online until Oct. 26. Alternatively, you can register or make changes to your registration, in person, until Election Day.
  • Absentee Ballot: Washington’s elections are conducted primarily by mail. Ballots are mailed to voters on October 16 and must either be postmarked no later than Election Day or returned to a ballot drop box by 8PM on Election Day.
  • COVID-19 Absentee Ballot Qualification: N/A
  • Absentee Ballot Tracking: Yes
  • Early Voting: Yes (Oct. 16 – Nov. 3)
  • Voter ID Required: No
  • Address Confidentiality Program: Yes
  • Additional Information: sos.wa.gov/elections

West Virginia (Registration Check)

Wisconsin (Registration Check)

Wyoming

A black biracial, bisexual girl raised in the South, working hard to restore North Carolina's good name. Lover of sports, politics, good TV and Sonia Sotomayor. Spends her Thursday nights trying to make #Shonday happen.

Natalie has written 138 articles for us.

7 Comments

  1. Re: becoming a poll worker: If you’re thinking about it, don’t put off signing up. I tried just the other day and was told it was “too late” in my area. Hopefully that means they have enough people, not that I missed some unadvertised deadline.

    My state also requires you to mark your political affiliation on the application, but offers only Republican and Democrat; I’m registered independent. The county worker I spoke to, before telling me it was too late anyway, said “you just have to pick one” (Biphobia! -oh no wait –) but if you’re in the same boat as me, make sure you get clarification before you do that, because “poll workers lied about their party affiliation, the election isn’t legitimate!” isn’t a thing we need.

    Three cheers for anyone able to be a poll worker, I’m bummed I don’t get to.

  2. This is a fantastic guide- thanks, Natalie! I just wanted to add that in most states, you can also ask to be registered to vote if you update or renew your driver’s license. It’s part of the “Motor Voter” law signed by Bill Clinton in 1993.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Voter_Registration_Act_of_1993

    I live in a state that requires voter ID, so I just went ahead and renewed my driver’s license to ensure that the address on my license matches the address where I’m voting. Other than standing in line at the DMV, it was relatively painless. They just take the information and signature straight off your license file for the voter registration (at least in my state anyway). That way everything is all matchy matchy with your ID as well.

    I also got glasses since my old license photo and my hair color changed, so I’m glad that my license photo looks more like me.

  3. Thanks Natalie!

    My mail in ballot arrived in the mail a few days ago. Much to my relief.

    In my city (Chicago) you can deposit your mail in ballot at a secure box at any of the city early voting polling places if you don’t want to actually mail it. I’m planning to do that because our ward’s post office is notoriously bad, even by Chicago standards.

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