The year 2020 is already proving to be an interesting one. To top it all off, it’s a presidential election year. And we haven’t had a “normal” one of those in, well, since, ever. But one thing we can agree on is that voting can be just a smidge more complicated as a military spouse, especially when it requires navigating the out of state voter registration process.
Maybe you recently PCSed or maybe you really want your voice heard this year. Whatever the reason, you want to make sure that you are in fact registered to vote. You have to figure out this out of state voter registration thing and fast. Most military spouses are out of state voters, so your best friend in this situation is knowledge.
How many times have you voted in person since you were swept off your feet by that uniform? Yeah, so, time to get down to business.
Frequently, military spouses confuse the term “home of record” to be synonumous with their voting residence. In the shorest paragraph possible, military spouses do not have a “home of record,” they have a state of residence. Sometimes this is the same as their service member and sometimes it is not. Either way, for the puropse of this piece, we’re going to use the term “voting residence.”
Easy Option for Out-of-State Voter Registration
Out of state voter registration doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming. In fact, there are many tools out there at your disposal. Moving around the country is becoming much more common these days. (Read: not just for military families anymore.) The first step is to figure out when your voting residence state says you need to be registered.
The easiest website for locking down out-of-state voter registration answers is vote.org. On their landing page you can register to vote, check your registration status, order your absentee ballot, find your polling location, and even set reminders to help you remember to go vote.
Another great resource—one that your service member is familiar with—is the Federal Voting Assistance Program. On this site, you can do many things, including determining your voting residence as a military family member. Yes, they make it that easy. You can also do all of these things on the FVAP page:
- See your state’s guidelines
- See election dates and deadlines
- Find your election office
- Check the status of your voted ballot
Thanks to the internet, out of state voter registration can really be that easy. They practically do it for you! Now, if only they can figure out a way to drop your kids off at school, do the laundry, and take care of the pets for you. Now that would be life-changing.
More On Out of State Voter Registration
The next best tool for out of state voter registration you have is your voting residence state’s election office. It can be a little confusing because each state runs their government differently.
For example, Florida has a supervisor of elections for each county, while states like New Mexico and Texas run elections out of the secretary of state’s office. Even then, out of state voter registration doesn’t have to be scary. Just use one of the resources above to figure out how to get to your state’s election information.
Pay Attention to Deadlines
Each state has a deadline for registering to vote, and they are not all the same. Virginia, for example, allows for voter registration as late as 22 days before a general election but allows for late registration for military service members and their families.
There are also often deadlines for requesting an absentee ballot and returning it. But they are clearly laid out. The biggest hurdle is registering to vote.
The most important thing to remember about out of state voter registration is that you have to follow the dates and rules your voting residence state has set in order for you to vote. If you can handle that, congratulations, you just got one step closer to becoming a voting badass.
NOT SURE WHAT STATE YOU SHOULD REGISTER IN?
Read Milspouse State of Residence and find out.
Photo Credits: Renee Slusser | Unsplash