“There’s no such thing as a vote that doesn’t matter,” intoned President Barack Obama, speaking to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation on Sunday. “If you want to give Michelle and me a good sendoff… don’t just watch us walk off into the sunset, now. Get people registered to vote.”
But in all the ugly back-and-forth of this campaign — a campaign that has been plugging away for 18 months, mind you — it might be surprising, even shocking to realize that the voter registration deadlines in the swingiest swing states are right around the corner!
Don’t worry: Whether you live in a swing state yourself, or you have a cousin in Virginia who, like, “isn’t that into politics or whatever,” or your best friend who lives in Colorado is a bit of a space-cadet, I’ve assembled here the deadlines and registration procedures for the seven “tipping-point states” with a 5 percent chance or greater of tipping the election, according to FiveThirtyEight.
Of course, this list by no means suggests that not living in a swing state is an excuse for sitting back, throwing your hands up, and seeing what happens. Even if you live in a deep blue or deep red state, you still have an important role to play in this election.
It doesn’t get talked about as much in this election, but FiveThirtyEight gives Florida a nearly 16 percent chance of putting one of the two candidates over the top. To cast your vote in the Sunshine State, your registration must be postmarked by Oct. 11. There will no doubt be lots of volunteers registering voters, but you can also download a voter registration form here and mail it in.
Pennsylvania is quickly developing a reputation as a “must-win” state, so if you’re eligible to vote in the Keystone State, make sure you’re registered. Registrations must be received by Oct. 11, so if you’re mailing in your registration, remember to mail it a few days earlier to make sure it arrives on time. Fortunately, Pennsylvania also has online voter registration, as long as you have a PA driver’s license or PennDOT ID.
In a surprising turn, Michigan edged out Ohio with a 10.7 percent chance of tipping the scales in November. You can download a mail-in registration form here — just remember it must be postmarked by Oct. 11.
Ohio is so crucial in this election that the GOP held their convention there. Still, the polls are close, so if you have any friends in the Buckeye State, make sure they’re registered! The form is here, and must be received by Oct. 11, so make sure it makes it into the mail on time! (Also, if you’re already registered to vote in Ohio and just need to update your address, you can do that online).
Obama carried the state in 2008, and it’s looking to be another nail-biter in 2016. The Tar Heel State gives its citizens an extra few days to register, with forms needing to be received by Oct. 14. But don’t dawdle! You still have to print, fill out, and mail in your registration form!
Colorado is one of three states that does all of its voting by mail, but if you have a Colorado State driver’s license or ID, you can register to vote online. Even better, as long as you register to vote more than eight days before the election — that is, by Oct. 31 — they’ll mail you your ballot! Colorado also allows in-person registration up to and on Election Day, so no excuses!
Before 2008, Virginia hadn’t gone blue since 1964, but Obama carried the state in 2008 and 2012. Fortunately, Virginia offers both online and mail-in voter registration, and gives citizens a few extra days than most, with registrations due by Oct. 17.
Other States, Or Whatever
Just kidding! I love all the states! Did you know there’s a National Voter Registration form that works with any state? And it comes in seven languages! You can also get the lowdown on registration in your state at a ton of different places, but most officially though the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Also, a new service was launched that allows you to register to vote via text messaging. What a time to be alive!
However you register (or get your friends and family to) make sure you do it!