Can You Vote If You're Registered At An Old Address? You'll Have To Fill Out Some Paperwork
If you’ve been living under a rock or happily as a hermit for the past few years, it’s my pleasure to announce that 2016 is indeed an election year. Ballots will be cast for the president of the United States, and your two main party choices are Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump (there are, of course, a host of third-party candidates as well). Every American who can do so should exercise their right to choose the next president, but there are many questions you may need answered first. For instance, can you vote if you’re registered at an old address?
People need to register to vote for a few reasons. Firstly, it gives the people who run the polls a number to provide adequate staffing for electoral events, and secondly (and most importantly), it ensures that people who live in, say, California, only vote in California. If I live in New York, I can’t vote in Ohio. That's totally against the rules (as it should be, since ballots also include local elections). So, what happens if you’ve moved around in the last four years and changing your voter registration to your current address has slipped your mind? Well, according to RockTheVote.com, you can only vote in the county and district in which you are registered. This is true across the country, but the nuances of deadlines and dates vary by state.
As explained by Rock the Vote, if you’ve moved since your last vote or voter registration, you need to update your information. In New York, for example, you needed to update all of your information by Oct. 14 for the 2016 general election, and if you live in Alaska, your information needed to be updated by Oct. 9. In some states, like Arkansas, you can still vote if you moved within the same county — you can just show up to your polling place. In other states, like Connecticut, you may have to go to a special Election Day Registration location before you can vote. As I said, everything depends on the rules for your particular state, so it can get very, very confusing. It's best to check the specific rules for where you live.
So how do you find out where you’re registered to vote? Rock the Vote has a handy tool in which you can plug in your address, and it will tell you if you’re registered to vote in the spot you’re living now. Best to check this information out now, before Election Day, to squash any unwanted voting surprises. And if you find out you're not registered at your current address and already missed the deadline to change it, you can also look into getting an absentee ballot, which lets you vote without visiting the polling place for your registered address. However, just like changing your registration, the deadline to request an absentee ballot varies by state, so make sure you get all of the information if you're going to vote by mail.
It may take some research, but getting the information is certainly worth it to make sure you can exercise your constitutional right to vote on Nov. 8.