Midterm elections are quickly approaching, but visiting the polls on Election Day—Tuesday, Nov. 6—won’t do you any good unless you register to vote ahead of time.
This election season has been notable for the harsh divides between Republicans and Democrats, particularly surrounding the recent confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. According to a recent SurveyMonkey/theSkimm/Hive poll, roughly 62% of Americans view this election cycle as more important than other midterms in their lifetime.
November’s election will decide if Republicans will retain their hold on the House and the Senate. According to the New York Times, there are 32 senators up for reelection, with an additional 3 open seats up for grabs. All House representatives are up for reelection. Voters in 38 states will also have the chance to vote on state policy via the 2018 ballot measures.
There are several non-profit organizations dedicated to providing voter information—such as When We All Vote and National Voter Registration Day, the latter of which registered a record of more than 800,000 people on September 25. Even some pop culture celebrities, like Taylor Swift and Rihanna, have voiced their political opinions or encouraged fans to register to vote in the 2018 midterms.
Need to register to vote? Here’s what you should know about voter registration in 2018:
When is my state’s voter registration deadline?
Every state, except North Dakota, requires eligible citizens (most U.S. citizens over the age of 18) to register ahead of election day.
Registration ends for 14 states on Tuesday, Oct. 9, including Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas. Alaska and Rhode Island closed their voter registration two days ago, on Oct. 7.
Some states have different deadlines depending on your method of registration, as explained by the New York Times. You can find your state’s voter registration deadlines on its election center website; all 50 states’ election centers are linked to the homepage of non-profit organization Vote.org.
How do I register to vote?
Voter registration can be done online in 37 states and the District of Columbia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Instead of trying to find your state’s specific site, Vote.org provides a single form for all citizens to begin their online voter registration—and it only takes two minutes.
Other states require a paper form to be filled out and mailed to the proper address. This form can be downloaded online via the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and mailed, or you can register to vote in person at your state or local registration office.
In most cases, when registering to vote (online or on paper), you’ll need to provide your social security number or information from a driver’s license/government-issued identification card for security purposes.
Not sure if you’re registered? You can check if you are registered to vote in 30 seconds via Vote.org.
Where do I vote on Election Day?
When voting in person on Election Day, you must go to your assigned polling location. To confirm your polling location, contact your local election official or enter your address in an online search.
Since a lack of transportation often prevents registered voters from having their say, both Lyft and Uber are providing discounted or free rides to polling places on Election Day.
Some states allow early voting if you know you will not be in town on Election Day. You may also fill out an absentee ballot if this is the case.
What is an absentee ballot?
Absentee ballots allow registered voters to cast their vote via a mailed-in form.
Vote.org provides an online form to apply for your absentee ballot. Once your application is accepted (some states require a valid excuse to vote absentee), you’ll be mailed the ballot. It must be returned via mail by your state’s specified date, usually prior to Election Day, so apply early if you know you need an absentee ballot.
Military members or overseas U.S. citizens may also apply for an absentee ballot via the Federal Post Card Application.