Voting 101

Get registered and ready to vote

Step One: Register to Vote

It’s important to vote in every election. Click here to take the first step. We’ll then direct you to the right place to officially register.

Think you’re already registered? Have you moved recently? Click here to double check your voter registration status and make any necessary changes.


Step Two: Know Your Voting Rights

Know your rights!

• If you’re in line when polls are supposed to close, stay in line – you have the right to vote.
• If you make a mistake on your ballot, ask for a new one.
• If the machines are down at your polling place, ask for a paper ballot.
• If your citizenship, criminal record, or other qualifications are questioned, immediately call the Election Protection Hotline where trained volunteers are available to help.
• If you run into any problems or have questions before or on Election Day, call the Election Protection Hotline:

English: 866-OUR-VOTE / 866-687-8683
Spanish: 888-VE-Y-VOTA / 888-839-8682
Arabic: 844-YALLA-US / 844-925-5287

For Bengali, Cantonese, Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, or Vietnamese: 888-API-VOTE/ 888-274-8683

Call or text 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) to speak with a trained Election Protection volunteer.

Since 2020, more than 500 voter suppression bills have been introduced — and many passed — in state legislatures across the nation. These bills often have a disproportionate impact on communities of color and young people, which can create barriers that make it harder for us to exercise our right to vote. We’ve seen it all: stringent voter ID laws, fewer opportunities to vote early or vote by mail, holding the vote hostage by requiring formerly incarcerated Americans to pay fees before restoring their rights, significantly reducing polling locations and vote-by-mail drop off boxes, unusually long lines a polling places, purging voter rolls, broken voting machines, failure to open polls on time and closing them when there are still lines — these are all forms of voter suppression. The list goes on and on. While voting roadblocks exist — intentionally and unintentionally – getting registered, making a voting plan, understanding your rights as a voter and actually voting can help us fight voter suppression as we continue to push for federal legislation to provide more access to the polls and protection for ALL voters’ rights.

It depends on your state. Find out more or receive voter ID help through Vote Riders.

Although voting early isn’t allowed in every state, most states have a process in place that allows registered voters to cast their ballots early at specific locations. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Register to vote at your current address before the deadline in your state. This address determines what local candidates and ballot measures will be on your ballot. It also determines where your early voting location will be.
  • Find your early voting polling place and check its hours of operation. Your Election Day polling location could differ from your early vote polling place, and the hours may vary as well.
  • Check the ID requirements for your state and bring those documents with you on the day you vote.  Find out more or receive voter ID help through Vote Riders.
  • Review your sample ballot so you know what you’ll be voting on when you arrive at the polling place.


Whether you’re voting in person, voting early, or looking for your ballot drop-off location, get started here.

Voting by mail is a convenient and accessible way to cast your vote from your home. To vote by mail, follow these simple steps:

  1. First, make sure you’re registered to vote. You can register or check your voter registration status.
  2. Once you are registered, you can then request your state’s mail-in ballot by filling out an application form. Find out how to get started on your Secretary of State’s website.

    Depending on your state, you may have to provide a reason for why you are applying to vote by mail. Thirty-four states and Washington, D.C. allow “no excuse” absentee voting, which means anyone eligible qualifies to apply for an absentee or mail-in ballot. Some states made exceptions during the COVID-19 pandemic — check your Secretary of State’s website to find out more.

    If you live in a state that has universal vote-by-mail and are a registered voter, you may not need to request a ballot and will be sent one automatically. Check your Secretary of State’s website to find out.

  3. Once your application is approved, your ballot will be mailed to you where you can fill it out from home. You can take your time with your ballot and research candidates, ballot questions, and issues before making your decision. For more help, visit BallotReady  where you can get more information on the candidates and measures on your specific ballot. Once your ballot is complete, you must send it back before your state’s deadline.

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many states have expanded vote by mail so everyone can vote safely. Make sure you are aware of your state’s rules and regulations in response to COVID-19 by checking your Secretary of State’s website and following When We All Vote on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for updates.

Our partners at Campaign Legal Center set up a free tool, Restore Your Vote, so you can check to see if you’re eligible to vote right now. If you run into trouble using this tool or have a question about your convictions, you can also call 1-888-306-8683 (toll-free) or email [email protected].

Get involved with When We All Vote

Sign up to volunteer with us! Learn more about ways to get involved here.

Sign up for volunteer opportunities or find a nearby event here.

Yes! A great way to get involved before you are eligible to vote is by joining our My School Votes program and starting a club at your school! Learn more here.

Click here to take action. When we organize, mobilize, show up, and vote, we can make real change in our country and demand a better future for all.

How your vote impacts your community

Watch this video to learn about the American electoral process in federal elections:

Each state has an agency that manages elections. Responsibilities of the state-level office often include training local elections officials, maintaining a voter registration database, and offering guidance on the testing of voting machines. Each state also has a head elections official. In 24 states, the chief elections official is an elected Secretary of State. However, in some states, the chief elections official is appointed by the governor or elected by the state legislature. Learn more 

96 percent of our nation’s elected offices are at the local level – the mayor, town or city council members, county commissioner, school board, and many other positions. The number and titles of elected local officials vary from place to place. Many local elected officials make important decisions on education, jobs/economy, public safety, your roads, bridges, housing, taxes  and more that impact our communities.

The elected positions found in all 50 states are governor, attorney general, superintendent of schools, insurance commissioner, agriculture commissioner, labor commissioner, and public service commissioner. They make critical decisions that impact our families, friends, and neighborhoods. Other positions, however, vary from state to state. 48 states have treasurers; 47 states have secretaries of state (who determine election laws); 45 states have lieutenant governors. 

Although the federal voting age is 18, a third of the states allow those who are 17 but will be 18 by the general election to vote in primaries. Find out more here: Find out which states permit 16- and 17-year-olds to register to vote here: 

Yes, but rules vary by state. Find voter registration deadlines for your state here.

U.S. citizens can receive an absentee ballot by email, fax, or internet download, depending on the state they are eligible to vote in. Click here for absentee voting information for U.S. citizens abroad.

Throughout the U.S., ballots are available in many languages for voters with limited English proficiency. Link:

You should update your voter registration immediately after you move. Every state has a different deadline for voter registration, but in most places, it’s somewhere between 15 to 30 days before an election. Link:

If your name has changed, you need to update your voter registration. Learn how to change your voter registration here

Go to our Take Action page to learn how to register voters in your community.

States have varied requirements on who is eligible to request a list of voters, what information the list contains, what information is kept confidential, and how the information contained in voter lists may be used. The availability of voter lists for campaign purposes is longstanding; candidates benefit from knowing who their party’s voters are. However, not every record is publicly available. Link: 

English: 1-866-OUR-VOTE / 1-866-687-8683
Spanish: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA / 1-888-839-8682
Arabic: 1-844-YALLA-US / 1-844-925-5287


As a voter you have rights and it’s important that you know them. We want you to be informed and empowered when we enter the voting booth. Follow these steps to help make the voting experience easier.

take action
  1. Verify your voter registration. Make sure you are ready to vote. If you are not registered, some states allow same day registration. Check Now
  2. Know what’s on the ballot. There’s a lot to vote for in every election besides some of the obvious categories:  mayors, district representatives, school district proposals, maybe even a change in state or local law. Check local election websites for information on your region.Find what’s on your ballot.
  3. Research your candidates. Get to know the stance each candidate takes on the issues that matter to you. You’ll likely get many mailers explaining their positions, and most candidates have their positions on their campaign websites.
  4. Find your polling place and hours. Your polling place is dependent on your address. Look up your polling place or contact:
    English: 866-OUR-VOTE / 866-687-8683
    Spanish: 888-VE-Y-VOTA / 888-839-8682
    Arabic: 844-YALLA-US / 844-925-5287
  5. Prepare to stand in line and be outside. If you need to, bring water, snacks, an extra layer of clothing and other things to keep yourself comfortable.
  6. Know your rights as a voter. That way, nobody can prevent you from doing something that you know is legal, such as bringing a sample ballot or taking your children to the polls with you.
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