Voting After You Move: A Guide

August 19, 2010

When Americans register to vote, their voter registrations are linked to their residential address.  When registered voters move, they are supposed to update their registration records with election officials before voting.  Some voters who fail to update their registration addresses before Election Day, however, should be able to cast ballots that will count.  Whether and when a voter who moves without notifying election officials can successfully vote depend on the laws and rules of each particular state.  This Guide is designed to help voters and advocates navigate the diverse patchwork of state laws governing voters who move. For each state, this guide answers the following questions:

  • I moved to another state. What should I do?
  • I moved within my state.  What should I do if I moved within my county or town?  If I moved to a different county or town?
  • The election is right around the corner and I never updated my registration after my move.  What should I do if I moved nearby?  If I moved within my county or town?  If I moved to a different county or town?

To learn the voting rules for movers in each state, please click on the appropriate state name on the right.
 


Spotlight: When Voters Move

In the United States, 90 million eligible voters - 45 percent of the population - move every five years. When Americans register to vote, their voter registrations are linked to their residential address. This connection between a voter's registration and residence is intended to ensure reliable and accurate voter lists and that voters only vote for races and ballot questions that affect the communities in which they live. However, in America's increasingly mobile society - a society where an estimated 29 million voting-age Americans move each year - a fixed and static linkage between voter registration and a voter's residential address can prove to be complicated and confusing - and for many, ultimately disenfranchising.

This report describes the voting difficulties Americans may face if they move without updating their registration records and offers several recommendations for improving the state and federal laws that protect movers.

Please note: The state guide on the right supplements the state-specific information available in this publication.