Can I Register on Election Day?

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

Military election-day votingIf you’re a servicemember or family member, you are entitled to keep your home of record as your domicile, no matter where the government sends you. That means you can be away from your hometown for years and still be able to vote. But suppose you didn’t get an absentee ballot? Or you forgot to request one? Not all states will accept a late ballot, even if it’s postmarked on or before the date of the election.

If you are living outside of your normal voter registration jurisdiction, you may still be able to cast a ballot – even if voting absentee is impractical at this late date.


Same-day voter registration.

Some states allow you to show up at the polls, register on the spot, and vote the same day. That’s great news for military families who move around a lot.

What states allow same-day registration?

As of early November 2012, the following jurisdictions allow same-day registration.

  • District of Columbia
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Additionally, North Carolina allows same-day registration but only for early voters, up to three-days before the election. Ohio, as of this writing, allows for same-day registration from the last Tuesday in September through the first Monday in October – during the early voting period.

You can’t vote in your hometown local elections. But you can make your voice heard for federal elections, and for local and state elections in your current home.

Be prepared to prove your residency with documents like a driver’s license, bank statement, a set of military orders placing you in the new area, utility bills, bank statements, or other proof that you are a resident of the community you are voting in.

Also, be aware that there may be unintended consequences of voting in a local election. For example, if you register to vote where you’re living now, and then return home next year to go to school, you may find your eligibility for in-state tuition rates challenged. Voter registration is one of the things officials look at when determining your state of residency or domicile.


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