How To Change Your Name & Address for Voting?

by Michael Keenan
Changing your last name means updating your voter registration.

Changing your last name means updating your voter registration.

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Your voter registration is only valid as long as it's accurate. So, if you've moved or changed your name, you need to update your voter registration information. To make sure your voice is heard in the next election, make it a priority to register after you move, change your name or both. Different states have different rules, so a good starting point for learning about the rules for your state is the instructions listed on the National Mail Voter Registration form or a general voting website, like Rock the Vote: Election Central. In many states, the registration is handled by the Secretary of State, but some states have other agencies, like a specific Elections Division or Board of Elections, that takes care of it.

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Prerequisites to New Registration

If you've moved, you might have to wait up to 30 days before you can register your new address for voting purposes. The residency rules vary from state to state, so it depends on where you've moved to. For example, in Montana you must be a resident for 30 days before you can register to vote in Montana elections. Virginia, on the other hand, doesn't have any waiting period as long as you intend to stay in Virginia indefinitely.

Registration Requirements

Before you can update your registration, the state generally wants to verify your name or address. In Illinois, you can use your driver's license number, which the state can cross-reference to verify your name and address. If you don't have one, you can either include a copy of your identification when you re-register or bring it with you the first time you vote in your new location. Acceptable ID can include a current government-issued photo ID or copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document showing your name and address.

Registration Options

All states, except North Dakota and Wyoming, accept the National Mail Voter Registration form. New Hampshire town and city clerks only accept this form as a request for an absentee voter mail‑in registration form. Some states, such as Illinois, offer several others options for changing your name or address for voting purposes, including printing out a state-specific form and mailing it in, registering in person with two forms of ID or updating your voting name and address at the same time that you update your driver's license. In addition, some states accept a letter to the local county board of elections, but require a signature on the letter. Some states, including Texas, allow you to register online if your new address is in the same county as your old address.

Deadlines

Different states have different rules about how late you can register and still be eligible to vote in an upcoming election. If you miss the deadline, you're not able to vote in the county of your new address. For example, in Kansas, your application must be postmarked or submitted online or in person at least 21 days before the election. In Montana, your registration must be postmarked 30 days before the election. However, you're also allowed to register in person, up to and including on Election Day.