Elections 101

Voter Registration: How Does the Indivisible Voter Registration Tool Work?


Indivisible will be using an online voter registration tool that you can use to do voter registration both in-person in your community and by sharing online. This chapter will explain what this tool is and review step-by-step how to make the most of it.

Voter Registration Tool Overview

Indivisible is working with TurboVote to offer an online tool that supports voter registration efforts across all 50 states. This tool allows constituents request absentee ballots and register to vote. In the states that allow online voter registration, the tool pushes registrants through the entire process to register to vote online.

As an Indivisible group member, you can send this tool to friends and family, promote on social media, and, of course, go out in your community to register voters in person. So, why use TurboVote?

Easy to use. TurboVote will walk new registrants through the entire registration process -- and at the end they will be registered to vote (or just have to mail in their completed registration). It’s that simple!

No forms, no problem. When registering voters with paper forms, volunteers need to keep track of a lot of forms. Not to mention, there’s significant liability that comes along with doing voter registration on paper -- once you register a voter, you become responsible for making sure their registration form is handed in (and in compliance with state laws). Some conservative state governments have significantly ratcheted up the penalties for turning in paper forms late as a way to discourage voter registration. This tool does all that work for you.

Registration is always complete and legible. It may seem trivial, but one of the big challenges of doing voter registration is making sure that registration forms are complete and easy to read. New registrants won’t be able to go to the next step without completing all the necessary fields and their answers will always be legible.

More than voter registration. This tool goes beyond voter registration. Voters can use it to apply for absentee ballots. The system will also send everyone who registers an automatic reminder when elections are coming up! Additionally, Indivisible will be able to keep track of the folks that groups register and make sure that they’re contacted in the lead up to elections.

How To

Using TurboVote is quick and easy -- you can register yourself, send it to friends, share it on social media, and use it to register voters in-person in your community (more on this in the next section).

Follow these steps:

Step 1: Go to Indivisible.TurboVote.org.

Step 2: Choose your language, then click get started!

Step 3: Enter the full legal name of the voter who is registering.

Step 4: Enter the contact information of the registrant and how they prefer to be contacted. Only one is mandatory, but it’s best to collect both if possible.

Step 5: Is the voter who is registering already registered? If the voter is not currently registered or their registration is not up to date, they move on to the next step.

Step 6: Enter the full address that the voter registering wants to register at. This should be where the registrant lives and must be a physical address, not a P.O. Box.

Note: If you are registering voters on a college campus, have students check to see what address they're supposed to use for voter registration. Many schools give students a mailing address that is different from their dorm address, and to register, students must use an address where they can receive mail. This can get tricky, so consider checking with the school to see what they recommend before you get started (or at minimum direct the student to do so)!

Step 7a: Online registration is currently available in 35 states and DC. If the voter registering lives in one of these states, click “I’ll register online” and you’ll be sent to that state’s registration site!

Note: Some states require a state-issued ID to register online (to ensure they have your signature on file), while others will allow you register and submit a new signature. Read the instructions and choose “I prefer paper” if the voter registering does not have the right ID.

Step 7b: If the voter registering lives in a state without online registration, or if they do not have a state-issued ID from the state in which they are registering, TurboVote will instead walk you through all the necessary info for that state’s form (which will still be filled in online!).

Step 8: Register! The registrant should fill out all the necessary information either on their state’s online registration website or directly into TurboVote, depending on Step 7. Every online form will look slightly different, depending on the state. If you’re doing registration in your community, take some time to familiarize yourself with your state’s form in advance.

Note: State registration websites will ask for all the information necessary to register to vote, including state-issued ID number or Social Security number -- this information will not be shared with TurboVote. When registering through TurboVote for states that don’t allow online registration, the site will not ask for private information, but will leave those fields blank for voters to fill out themselves.

Step 9a: Complete online registration! If registering through a state’s online registration system, click “I registered!” when the voter has completed the online process or “I prefer paper” to return to TurboVote’s version of that state’s form.

Step 9b: Complete paper registration! Once the registrant has filled out all the necessary information for their state’s form on TurboVote’s site, TurboVote will email them a PDF version of their state’s form, pre-filled out with all their information, except their ID number and signature.

Note: MAKE SURE the voter registering goes home and prints the form out, fills in the remaining information, and mails it in or returns it to their local elections office. TurboVote will direct them to a website to look up the nearest elections office and send reminders to turn the form in, but if you’re helping someone register, you should make sure they know this as well.

A Few Notes

TurboVote is an extremely powerful tool that will allow you to efficiently register voters both online and offline. There are, however, a few things to be aware of when using it in your community.

There are still several states that do not allow online voter registration. That means you won’t be able to use TurboVote to do the entire registration process for voters in those states. New registrants will be able to fill out a form and get it mailed to them, but it will be important to remind those folks that they still need to mail the form in. If you live in one of those states, consider this in your voter registration strategy. TurboVote will send a reminder email, but it’s worth the added touch to give those folks a reminder call as well.

TurboVote requires internet access and a smartphone, tablet or computer to register. While we highly recommend Indivisible groups use this tool in place of paper forms, we recognize that these resources are not accessible to all groups or group members. If the only option for your community is to do registration with paper registration forms, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with state laws about voter registration (including requirements to do registration, eligibility to vote, deadlines to turn in registration forms and more). You can check in with your state’s Board of Elections to start learning.

STATES WITH ONLINE VOTER REGISTRATION

38 states—Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin—plus the District of Columbia, currently or will soon offer online voter registration.