In 2021 alone, 34 laws restricting access to voting (opens in new tab) were passed across the country. These laws, which disproportionately affect Black, brown, and transgender people (opens in new tab), could look like anything from banning the use of ballot drop boxes (opens in new tab) to making it illegal to bring food and water to people waiting in line to cast their ballot (opens in new tab). While some of the more extreme voter suppression laws have made national headlines, others (like stricter voter ID requirements (opens in new tab)) often quietly go into effect without people ever knowing. This is one of the many reasons it’s imperative to double-check your voter registration status and ensure that you’re prepared with all of the materials you may need on or before Election Day.
Ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, find out everything you need to know about registering to vote—from how to check your registration status to voter suppression laws to pay attention to—below.
How Do I Register to Vote?
You can register to vote online, in-person, or by mail. This will vary depending on the state you live in, though most states allow online voter registration, which is quick and easy. To find out how you can register to vote in your state, visit How to Vote (opens in new tab), click the dropdown menu, choose “how to register to vote," then find your state. The site will give you a detailed look at what you’ll need ahead of or on Election Day, as well as specific deadlines for the upcoming election.
While registering to vote, it’s also important to note that there are different voting laws for people who are formerly and currently incarcerated, as well as U.S. citizens who live abroad (opens in new tab) (the latter will largely have to do with your state’s vote-by-mail laws). This guide (opens in new tab) from the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, has information on voting laws for formerly incarcerated people that was last updated in July 2022. You can also view the ACLU’s felony disenfranchisement map (opens in new tab) for a visual look at the laws across the country preventing Americans with felony convictions from voting.
Can I Register to Vote on Election Day?
This will also depend on your state’s laws. You can see a list of voter registration laws by state at the How to Vote (opens in new tab) site mentioned above or at Vote.org (opens in new tab).
How Do I Check My Voter Registration Status?
Even if you believe you’re already registered to vote and your personal information hasn’t changed recently, you should still check your voter registration status. According to data from the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) (opens in new tab) analyzed by the Brennan Center for Justice, at least 17 million voters were purged from voter rolls nationwide between 2016 and 2018, and that number has likely increased in the years since.
You can easily check your voter registration status by visiting RocktheVote.org (opens in new tab), clicking “Check Your Registration Status,” and filling out the form (opens in new tab) with your personal details. You can also directly visit your state’s Board of Elections site to check if you’re registered.
If you recently moved, changed your name, or want to update your party affiliation (this is especially important for primary elections as you can only vote for candidates in your party during these elections), you’ll need to update or change your voter registration. You can do this by either registering to vote in the new state you live in if you moved to a new state permanently, or checking your registration status and making the necessary changes to your personal details. If you're a transgender person who's worried about not having an ID that correctly matches your name and/or gender, know your rights (opens in new tab), check to see what ID may be required on Election Day (opens in new tab), and consider voting by mail if your state allows it.
How Can I Learn About Voting Laws in My State?
The U.S. Senate refused to pass (opens in new tab) the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021 (opens in new tab), which would have restored and strengthened the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (opens in new tab). Without the passage of this bill, states have the power to pass restrictive voting laws that purposefully harm people of color and, overall, weaken our democracy. To find out what’s going on in your state, Voting Rights Lab (opens in new tab) helps track existing and pending legislation on voting rights across the country. The Brennan Center has a history of tracking voting rights legislation and published a roundup of legislation (opens in new tab) that’s pending or in effect as of May 2022 as well.
Fair Fight is also here to remind you (opens in new tab) that voter suppression can manifest in many forms before, during, and after voting. This Twitter thread (opens in new tab) from a person attempting to vote in the 2022 midterm elections is an example of how voter suppression can occur at the polls and why you always need to advocate for yourself. If you believe you've been mistreated at the polls, call the Election Protection Hotline (opens in new tab) at 866-OUR-VOTE.
What Happens If I Don’t Check My Voter Registration Status?
If you don’t check your voter registration status to see if you’re registered to vote and ensure your personal information is accurate, there’s a possibility you’ll miss your state’s voter registration deadlines and you won’t be able to vote in the upcoming election. Many voter registration deadlines have already passed, so it’s imperative to check your voter registration status today as the 2022 midterm elections are quickly approaching and your vote matters.
How Can I Fight Against Voter Suppression?
It can feel a bit ironic to talk about politicians actively trying to pass laws that suppress your ability to vote, then be told to vote in order to get those politicians out of office. That said, organizations like the ACLU (opens in new tab), New Georgia Project (opens in new tab), Fair Fight (opens in new tab), League of Women Voters (opens in new tab), and Election Protection (opens in new tab) are actively fighting against voter suppression and protecting the right to vote year-round. If you want to do more than vote to fight against voter suppression, visit these organizations' websites to see if you can volunteer with them and, if you have the means, make a donation to support their work to uphold our democracy.
How to Vote
You checked your voter registration status, found out you're registered to vote, and have all of the materials you need? Great—now it's time to vote. At this point, it's too late to request an absentee ballot and mail it back if you haven't already (it likely won't get to your polling place in time and ballot drop box rules (opens in new tab) vary by state), so you should plan to vote in person. Find your polling place on Vote.org (opens in new tab) by typing in your address. Here, you'll receive the location, as well as the hours of operation, for your polling place. Be mindful that your early voting polling place is likely different than your polling place on Election Day, so you should vote when and where it's most convenient for you. Early voting is currently in progress (opens in new tab) across the country.
Rachel Epstein is a writer, editor, and content strategist based in New York City. Most recently, she was the Managing Editor at Coveteur, where she oversaw the site’s day-to-day editorial operations. Previously, she was an editor at Marie Claire, where she wrote and edited culture, politics, and lifestyle stories ranging from op-eds to profiles to ambitious packages. She also launched and managed the site’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game or finding a new coffee shop.
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