V.I.P Guide

Pre-Election & registration

Ballots & Polling Places

Pre-Election Dates 

If you have moved since the last time you voted or are registering to vote for the first time, here are some deadlines to keep in mind to ensure that you can vote in the next election.

3-4 months before an election

Register to vote

In order to participate in any election, you must register to vote.

Who can register?

If you are a U.S citizen, at least 18 years old on election day, a resident of your city or county (in most places 30 days prior to the election).

If you have been convicted of a felony, depending on where you live, you may be allowed to vote or can request that your right to vote is restored. For more information contact, The Sentencing Project, http://www.sentencingproject.org

What do you need to register?

You do not need a birth certificate to register. Applications may ask you for your driver’s license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number. If you do not have a Social Security number, just write “none.” (You will need a birth certificate to obtain a driver’s license and in some states you will need to show your driver’s license or other government issued id to actually cast a ballot; More on this below.)

Where can you register?

You can register to vote at motor vehicle and social services agencies in your state.

You can also register in person at your county or parish board of elections, which is usually located in your county or parish courthouse or other county building.

Some states have same day registration, meaning you can register the day of the election, but you must meet residency and other requirements. Those states are

Some states have online registration—Learn more here.

You can also register at rockthevote.org, a nonpartisan organization.

When to register?

The deadline for registration to vote in an upcoming election, in most states, is usually 30 days prior, which means for the 2012 Presidential election you must be registered by October 8 to vote on November 6, 2012. VIP Network suggests that you start early to avoid last minute problems.

2-4 weeks after you register. Confirm your registration

Wait for a confirmation that you are properly registered, if you have not received confirmation 2-4 weeks after registering, meaning if you have not received your voter registration card, contact the local board of elections.

If the county or parish official does not have a record of your registration, find out if it is being processed or if it received your application.

Once your registration is confirmed, then it is time to know where you’ll vote and what you’ll need to vote.

6-8 weeks before the election

Know your polling place

Once you receive your confirmation, your voter registration card should also indicate your polling place location. Many polling places have changed because of the recent redistricting process for federal, state, and local elections. Your polling place may have moved.

If you are unsure where your polling place is, check with the local board of elections or visit these websites: canivote.org, vote411.org

Checking your polling place now will also indicate if there were any problems with your registration and still provide time to address any issues.

Find out if you are required to showidentification in order to cast a ballot

If you are a first time registrant, who registered by mail, you will need to provide photo identification in order to cast a ballot. In most states, a driver’s license or other photo id will suffice.

Many states have adopted laws that requireallcitizens to provide some form of identification in order to vote. In these states any form of identification, either photo or non-photo that includes your address like a utility bill will suffice.

Some states require citizens to provide a government issued photo id, that is, a driver’s license, military id, passport, etc. Check to see what your state requires here: canivote.org, rockthevote.org, vote411.org.

 

If the county or parish official does not have a record of your registration, find out if it is being processed or if it received your application.
4-6 weeks before the election

Find out your options to cast your ballot

Early voting. Many states have adopted early voting options that allow you to cast a ballot before election day. Typically, early voting can occur 2-3 weeks before the scheduled election day;

Absentee ballots. Another way to vote prior to election is to cast an absentee ballot, which you must request in advance. States have different requirements for using absentee ballots, again check your state board of elections website for specific details.

Sample ballots. Review sample ballots and find out information about the candidates and issues.

If you did not early vote or request an absentee ballot, here are some last minute preparations to keep in mind.

1 week before the election

  • Locate your polling place and make sure that you have any necessary documents to vote.
  • Make sure that your job will allow you to come into work late on Election Day or take the day off.
  • If you will not be able to go to the polls on election day, it’s not too late to get an absentee ballot. Check with your state and/or local board of elections.

 V. I. P.

Voter Information and Participation Network

Welcome to the Voter Information and Participation (VIP) Network, a nonpartisan voter outreach/education site to keep you informed and educated about the voting process.  As a VIP, you will learn about the democratic process and ways to educate and encourage voter participation.  The VIP Network’s Voter Education/Outreach project,'s voter timeline below notes certain dates and tasks to keep in mind  to make sure that your vote will be counted on Election Day.  

 

Going to VOTE!!

 

  • If you are voting on Election Day, go to the polls at off-peak hours, for example, between 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 to 4 p.m.
  • If you have time, take and/or encourage others to vote.

If you are going to the polls on election day:

  • Make sure that you have any and all necessary forms of id, have id with your picture and your address.
  • Be patient. Lines can be very long and slow. Don’t leave until you have voted.
  • Since you confirmed your registration, you should not have any problems.
  • If someone challenges you, because you have your documentation, voter registration card, id, etc., you should be allowed to vote on the regular voting machine.
  • If you are offered a provisional ballot and you have done the other things in this time table, the election official should allow you to vote on a regular voting machine. However, if you vote on a provisional ballot, in some states you are required to return to the local board of elections after the election to verify your identify before it can be counted.

Report any problems to state and local officials and Election Protection, a nonpartisan group, at 1-866-OUR-VOTE

Election Day

Voting & Elections