Skip to content

Latest Stories

Top Stories

Voting prep, part 2: Voter registration

Personal calling for people to register to vote
Mario Tama/Getty Images

The Fulcrum is publishing a series of articles to help people navigate the shifting laws that govern elections. This, the second article, covers voter registration.

There’s a process to participating in an election. While the goal is to cast a ballot and have a say in the government there are some steps required to reach that point. Today, we’re going to review the voter registration process.

Eligible Americans need to register with their state, often in advance of Election Day, in order to vote. This is the first step in confirming eligibility and protecting against voter fraud. In many states, the process can be completed in person, by mail or online depending on what their state offers. Many states also allow people to register on Election Day and then immediately cast a ballot.

And if you believe you’re already registered? It’s still a smart idea to confirm your status through your state’s election office. You can also confirm where you will vote, check or change your party preference, and request a mail-in ballot (depending on the state).

The challenge comes in figuring out the rules in your state.

Each state has its own set of election laws, including their own deadlines and options for registering to vote. It can be very difficult to decipher deadlines within a given state, especially with recent changes to the voting process that have affected identification requirements, postal voting and early voting periods, among other things.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

Made with Flourish

States like Delaware, Georgia and Missouri have day-specific deadlines for registering in person, by mail, and online (the fourth Saturday before Election Day, the fifth Monday before Election Day, and fourth Wednesday prior to Election Day, respectively).

Similarly, New Hampshire has an unusual protocol for voter registration that requires people to register either in person or by mail on Election Day. But if individuals would like to vote earlier, there’s an eight-day registration window that opens 13 days before Election Day.

Some states have a set deadline for registration, except when the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday. For example, Arkansas has a deadline of 15 days before Election Day except if it falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday. In such a case, the deadline falls on the next business day. Along the same lines, Mississippi requires in-person and mail voters to register 30 days before the election, unless the 30th day falls on a Sunday or legal holiday and the deadline moves to the following business day.

States also may have different requirements for postal registrations. Usually, states will set deadlines for voter registration to be postmarked by a certain date. However, states like Nebraska and North Carolina account for illegible postmarks and set later deadlines for registrations to be received rather than going by a postmark. Some states also may have set deadlines for both a postmark and a received-by date.

Additional reading:

Nine states that require voter registration do not offer an online option: Arkansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.

The outlier in this process is North Dakota; the state does not require voter registration at all and, instead, only requires acceptable identification for a voter to be eligible to cast a ballot in the election.

Twenty-one states offer voter registration on Election Day. However, states will usually require a form of identification or even proof of residency to be eligible to vote.

To ease confusion and difficulties around voter registration, we’ve provided Voter and Election Day Registration Deadlines by states, demonstrated by this map. Please note that it is always a good idea to double check with your state’s voter guides to ensure all dates, times, and information are correct.

Read More

Shoe lying on the stage

A shoe is left on stage after a former President Donald Trump was ushered off by the Secret Service following an assassination attempt on July 13.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The assassination attempt: Reflections from The Fulcrum contributors

Nevins is co-publisher of The Fulcrum and co-founder and board chairman of the Bridge Alliance Education Fund.

I woke up Sunday morning, like I am sure you all did, attempting to process Saturday's assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump.

In my role as co-publisher of The Fulcrum I immediately started thinking about how we should respond and started to write a column with my thoughts. But first I needed to figure out my approach.

Keep ReadingShow less
American flag hanging amid spotlights

The FBI, ATF and other law enforcement agencies work at the crime scene where a gunman attempted to assassinate former President Donald Trump on July 13.

Kyle Mazza/Anadolu via Getty Images

The language of violence

Breslin is the Joseph C. Palamountain Jr. Chair of Political Science at Skidmore College and author of “A Constitution for the Living: Imagining How Five Generations of Americans Would Rewrite the Nation’s Fundamental Law.”

Real violence erupted at a presidential campaign rally on Saturday night. Rare though it was, it was still a sickening sight.

Tragically, metaphorical violence as part of campaign speeches is not at all rare. Democrats and Republicans — Biden and Trump, Harris and Haley, DeSantis and Kennedy, you name it — throw around allusions to violence as if we are currently engaged in some domestic incursion.

Keep ReadingShow less
The American tragedy of the Trump assassination attempt

The American tragedy of the Trump assassination attempt

Aftergut, a former federal prosecutor, is of counsel to Lawyers Defending American Democracy. Sarat is a professor of jurisprudence and political science at Amherst College.

Saturday’s assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump was a crime against the entire country and against democracy itself. Every American should be grateful that it failed, and that Trump has survived it.

Let’s say it plainly. It is an abomination that he was wounded as he campaigned for a return to the White House. Every one of us has an obligation to examine what we can do to stop any kind of recurrence.

Keep ReadingShow less
broken American flag
traffic_analyzer/Getty Images

It's never too late to act

Sturner, the author of “Fairness Matters,” is the managing partner of Entourage Effect Capital.

This is the second entry in the “Fairness Matters” series, examining structural problems with the current political systems, critical policies issues that are going unaddressed and the state of the 2024 election.

Keep ReadingShow less
Flag being held out in front of Trump tower

Donald Trump supporters demonstrate in front of Trump Tower in New York a day after the former president was injured during shooting at campaign rally in Pennsylvania.

Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Democracy 2.0 will focus on compassion, not violence

By Sam Daley Harris

Daley-Harris is the author of “Reclaiming Our Democracy: Every Citizen’s Guide to Transformational Advocacy” and the founder of RESULTS and Civic Courage. This is part of a series focused on better understanding transformational advocacy: citizens awakening to their power.

Keep ReadingShow less