Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Everything you need to vote on Election Day


You may need these items to vote.

James Martin/CNET

This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET’s coverage of the run-up to voting in November.

Voting isn’t as simple as driving to a polling place or requesting a mail-in ballot — there are steps you need to take to ensure you’re prepared to vote on Election Day, which is Nov. 3 this year. For example, you need to be registered to vote and you may be required to bring a specific form of identification with you to the polls.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, many states are now opening absentee or mail-in voting to all citizens. You can also choose to vote early at your polling location if it’s offered in your state. Here’s everything you need to vote on Election Day.

You must be registered to vote

The first step to voting in the presidential election is registering to vote. If you’ve registered to vote in the past but have since changed your name, moved to a different location, haven’t voted in the past four years or want to change political parties (or switch to or from independent voter status), you’ll need to reregister.

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What to bring if you’re voting in person

Here are some items that you may be required to bring with you if voting at the polls on Election Day. Note that all states have different regulations, so it’s best to call ahead of time to make sure you’ve got everything you need.

Photo ID: This can include a driver’s license, military ID, college ID and state-issued government ID. Call your polling place or visit your country voter site online to see which forms of ID are accepted.

Proof of residence: Some states may require you to bring proof that you live at your address. This can include a bank statement, utility bill or your driver’s license, and may also be acceptable in digital form.

Social security number: If you don’t have a photo ID with you, some states, like Washington, will allow you to vote if you provide the last four digits of your social security number.


Make sure you’re registered to vote.

James Martin/CNET

What you need to have if voting by mail

In order to vote by mail, you’ll need to request an absentee ballot if your state doesn’t automatically send the forms out. Many states don’t require a reason for you to vote by mail this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but some still do.

On the mail-in ballot, you’ll need to provide personal identifying information, such as your social security number or driver’s license number.

Need more information about voting? Here’s what’s going on with the USPS crisis and how it could affect the election, when early voting starts in every US state and how to vote safely if you’re voting in person. And if you’re not sure if you’re registered to vote, here’s how to find out.

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