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Same Day Registration

Same Day Voter Registration

5/6/2014

Vote buttonTen states plus the District of Columbia presently offer same-day registration (SDR), allowing any qualified resident of the state to go to the polls or an election official's office on Election Day, register that day, and then vote. California and Illinois have enacted same-day registration but have not yet implemented it. Montana voters will have a chance to repeal same-day registration via a legislative referendum on the November 2014 ballot.

In most other states, voters must register by a deadline prior to Election Day. The deadline varies by state, with most falling between eight and 30 days before the election.

Note: In 2014, Utah enacted HB 156, which creates a pilot project to test Election Day registration, to run through 2016. Because it is a pilot project, Utah is not included in the table below.

 

Election Day Registration States

 

Year Enacted

California*

2012

Colorado

2013

Connecticut

2012

District of Columbia

2010

Idaho

1994

Illinois** 2014

Iowa

2007

Maine

1973

Minnesota

1974

Montana

2005

New Hampshire

1996

Wisconsin

1975

Wyoming

1994

*California's same-day registration will take effect on January 1 of the year following the year in which the Secretary of State certifies that the state has a statewide voter registration database that complies with the requirements of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 (no sooner than January 2014).
**Same-day registration will take effect for the November 2014 general election in limited locations.


How SDR Works

  • Proof of residency  is a key requirement in all states that offer same-day registration. In a traditional (pre-Election Day) registration, election officials have time to send a non-forwardable mailing to the prospective voter in order to verify the voter's residence before processing the registration application. Because that isn't possible with SDR, the prospective voter must present proof of residency at the time of registration. A current driver's license or ID card will suffice in all states. In some states, documents such as a paycheck or utility bill with an address is acceptable for proving residence. A few states also permit an already-registered voter to vouch for the residency of an Election Day registrant.
  • Voter ID:  All of the SDR states also require that voters who register and vote on Election Day present documentation to verify their identity. Some states require a photo ID; others accept IDs without a photo.

Preventing Fraud

In addition to requiring proof of identity and residency, without which a prospective voter cannot register and vote, SDR states commonly employ other practices to prevent fraudulent acts such as casting more than one ballot. These include:
  • In Iowa and New Hampshire, a non-forwardable mailing is sent to each Election Day registrant. If it is returned as undeliverable, a second notice is sent. If the second mailing is also returned as undeliverable, the case is forwarded to law enforcement for investigation of voter fraud.
  • Election Day registrants in Montana who are unable to meet the voter ID requirements must vote a provisional ballot, and then must return within three days to provide proof of identity in order to have the ballot counted. Montana also sends confirmation cards to new registrants after the election, following a procedure similar to Iowa's outlined above. Wisconsin and Wyoming use similar provisional voting processes.
  • In Montana, SDR is conducted only at county election officials' offices, not at polling places. In Maine, it takes place at town offices and city halls.
  • In states that use electronic pollbooks with real-time access to the statewide voter database, it is possible to verify that a prospective voter has not already registered and cast a ballot at another polling site or via mail prior to allowing him/her to register and vote.
  • In Minnesota, the data provided by a same-day registrant is verified with the Division of Vehicle Services and/or the Social Security Administration, the Department of Corrections, and the Department of Public Safety.

Links to State-Specific Information

Visit the websites of state election officials to learn more specifics and details about Election Day registration requirements.

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