Midterm Election Day is just around the corner on Nov. 8, and with early voting already happening in many states, it's never been more crucial to make sure you’re registered to vote on time. But with everything going on, it's no surprise if, one morning, you wake up to find that the deadline to register to vote has slipped past before you knew it. Well, here's what to do if you forgot to register to vote, because some states have your back.
According to Vote.org, there's a number of states that allow registration all the way up to Election Day. This means voters in these states will be able to register to vote and cast their ballot at their local elections office on the same day, usually during either early voting or on Election Day itself. These states include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, and a handful of others. North Dakota doesn't even require voter registration in order to cast a ballot, so all residents have to do is present a valid proof of ID and residency, with a street address, at their polling location. Be careful, though — most states require you to go to a special location for same-day voter registration, so don't assume you'll just be able to wing it at your regular polling place.
To see a full list of voter registration deadlines in different states, you can visit Vote.org for details.
However, if you don't live in one of the states offering same-day registration, you may have to sit this election out. It’s also important to keep in mind that Election Day voter registration generally applies to in-person applications. So if you're planning to vote by mail-in ballot but are counting on same-day registration, you'll probably want to reconsider your plans.
So, what if you're sure you registered, but your polling place doesn't have your name in their records? You can always ask for a "provisional ballot," also called an affidavit ballot, which will still let you rock your vote. But of course, there's a catch. When casting a provisional ballot, keep in mind those ballots aren't counted with regular ballots, and they won't help you if you really did forget to register. These ballots are set aside and double-checked within a few days of the election to confirm voter eligibility and make sure that yes, you are entitled to vote, and then are counted later. If you do end up voting via this kind of conditional ballot, remember to check your state's rules — some states require some kind of follow-up action to prove you're eligible to vote.
For those who really did miss the deadline and live in states without same-day registration to save the day, there are ways you can make up for it, like encouraging others to vote. This year's midterm election will have a huge impact on major issues like state abortion rights, the economy, and election denial, so it's never been more crucial to weigh in. As October whizzes by, it's time to make your voice heard. No matter who you're voting for, your vote matters — so get out there and cast it!
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