How to change your political party

Aside from one Republican Senator who’s currently mulling a decision to switch her political affiliation, Wednesday’s assault on the U.S. Capitol hasn’t necessarily compelled Republican lawmakers to flee the party en masse. The Trump era, with its normalization of incendiary rhetoric , only saw a handful of lawmakers switch their affiliations out of contempt for the president; o ne notable example is former Michigan House Representative Justin Amash, who abandoned the Republican party to become an Independent in 2019 and then switched again to Libertarian last year.

Regardless of the underlying context, switching your political party is a right afforded to any registered voter in this country, and it’s something you can do with a few simple actions.

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First, how to update your registration

Switching party allegiance follows the same process as updating your voter registration. Registering to vote is obviously the singular step anyone needs to take in order to participate in an election, but there are reasons that require you to update your registration, such as moving either within your state or to a new state, changing your name, and switching party affiliation.

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If you move to a new state, you have to register in accordance with the state’s registration deadline, which USA.gov points out is usually 30 days before an election takes place.

You can update your registration either online by visiting the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission’s website , or by mail through the National Voter Mail Registration Form (this is accepted by all states, minus Wyoming, New Hampshire, and North Dakota, per USA.gov). Additionally, you can try to update your registration over the phone, but this process isn’t formally accepted by all states.

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How to switch your party

Though the process of actually getting to the polls remains remarkably difficult for many Americans, switching your party affiliation is as easy as filling in a circle on a questionnaire. Even if you haven’t moved or aren’t changing your name, you still need to go to the same U.S. Elections Assistance Commission’s website and select your state in the dropdown menu. After doing that, you’ll see a menu of options.

Select the “register to vote” option, and you’ll immediately be linked to your state’s Board of Elections (BOE) website. From there, you should find the option to change your party preference. It’s worthwhile to note that your request to change parties doesn’t always go into effect immediately. Owing to the quirks and bureaucratic headaches that routinely accompany state government processes, there will likely be a voter registration deadline by which you have to make the change to participate in a forthcoming election under your new party.

You state’s BOE will ultimately formalize your request and grant you new party membership, but it may take longer than you’d like if you miss the deadline. Every state has different policies, so make sure to verify the particulars with your state’s BOE.

Why you might want to change affiliations

Sometimes, the desire to switch affiliations is more born of necessity than outright rejection of an ideological conviction. While you can vote for any candidate in any general election under the banner of any party—whether you’re registered Green, Libertarian, Independent, Republican, or Democrat—but you might be barred from participating in the primary elections if your registered party isn’t participating.

For example, if you’re registered Independent but lean left politically and want to determine who ultimately clinches the Democratic nomination for president, you cannot participate in a state’s closed primary for a Democratic presidential nominee. However, if you live in a state with open primaries, you can participate in the primary contests in the state, regardless of how you’re registered. (Usually, primary elections really only encompass the American political dichotomy of Republican and Democrat, because smaller parties often, but not always, select their nominees earlier).

There’s also the issue of semi-closed primaries (feel free to sigh, since our electoral system doesn’t make this easy to navigate) which Fair Vote describes thusly:

In a semi-closed primary, unaffiliated voters may choose which party primary to vote in, while voters registered with a party may only vote in that party’s primary.

Regardless of whether you’re thinking of abandoning your longtime affiliation on principle, there are clearly reasons why the decision of party selection matters outside of pure partisanship.

How and Where to Register to Vote (Deadlines)

  • You can register in person at your county board of elections or at any New York State Agency-Based voter registration center.
  • You may also submit your voter application form at the Department of Motor Vehicles, either in person or on their web site if you already have DMV-issued identification.
  • You can request a New York State Voter Registration form by mail by entering your name directly into our mailing list database.
  • You can call our 1-800-FOR-VOTE (1-800-367-8683) hotline to request a voter application.

New York State Voter Registration Form

  • You may register to vote using the New York State Voter Registration Form accessible at the links below. You can complete a PDF version of the New York State Voter Registration Form on-line by clicking on the link below, typing the necessary information and selecting the appropriate boxes. Alternatively, you can print the form to complete by hand.
  • Once the form is completed, you need to print the form and sign it. We cannot accept any kind of digital or Adobe-generated signature. Then, mail the form to your county board of elections.

Adobe Acrobat (PDF)

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How to Make Changes to Your Registration

Change of Name and/or Address

The voter registration form should be used as a change of address form. Notices of change of address from registered voters received at least 20 days before a special, primary or general election by a county board of elections must be processed and entered in the records in time for that election.

Change of Party Enrollment

The voter registration form should be used to change your party enrollment from one party to another or to enroll for the first time in a party. Due to a new Executive Order the deadline for a change of enrollment has been extended up until February 16th. Forms RECEIVED at your local board of elections up to and including February 16th will be accepted and processed. If you submit your party changle online through DMV the deadline is midnight February 16th for electronic delivery on the 16th. Changes received on or after February 17th until seven days after the June Primary will be set aside and opened the seventh day following the June Primary and entered in the voter’s registration record. Please see Deadlines referenced above.

Registering as a member of a political party often has important implications — especially when it comes to primary elections. If you live in a state with a closed primary election process, you cannot vote in a party’s primary unless you are a registered member of that party. Fortunately, it’s fairly simple to change your party affiliation.

Explore this article

1 Re-Register to Vote

To change your party affiliation, you’ll typically need to re-register to vote. Registering to vote typically involves filling out a voter registration form and providing proof that you are an adult U.S. citizen and a resident of the state in which you’re registering. Some states require you to register by a particular deadline to vote in the next primary or election. For example, the state of California requires voters to submit their registration 15 days before an election. States typically feature online registration in addition to paper registration forms. Visit the website for your state’s board of elections for specific registration information. If you want to change your affiliation for a local election, visit the city, county or parish elections website.

references

  • 1 National Council of State Legislatures: State Primary Election Types
  • 2 Maryland State Board of Elections: Voter Registration Introduction
  • 3 California Secretary of State: Voter Registration

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

If you wish to register to vote in a language other than English, please select your language below.

In California, the deadline to register to vote for any election is 15 days before Election Day, so please register early!

Voter Registration Deadlines for Upcoming Elections

Election Date Your registration must be postmarked or submitted electronically no later than:
June 7, 2022 May 23, 2022

You can apply to register to vote right now by filling in the online application. The application is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese. If you have any questions, visit Frequently Asked Questions or contact the Secretary of State's Elections Division at (800) 345-VOTE (8683) or by email.

If you are enrolled in California's confidential address program, Safe At Home, please do not apply to register to vote using this site. Contact the Safe At Home program toll-free at (877) 322-5227 or by the Safe At Home email.

Qualifications to Register to Vote

To register to vote in California, you must be:

  • A United States citizen and a resident of California (for information on voters in the military or overseas, please see Military and Overseas Voters),
  • 18 years old or older on Election Day,
  • Not currently serving a state or federal prison term for the conviction of a felony (for more information, please see Voting Rights: Persons with a Criminal History), and
  • Not currently found mentally incompetent to vote by a court (for more information, please see Voting Rights: Persons Subject to Conservatorship).

Qualifications to Pre-register to Vote

To pre-register to vote in California, you must:

  • Be 16 or 17 years old, and
  • Meet all of the other eligibility requirements to vote.

You will automatically be registered to vote on your 18th birthday.

To Obtain a Paper Voter Registration Application

If you would like to register using a paper voter registration application, you can pick one up at your county elections office, library, Department of Motor Vehicles offices, or U.S. post office. It is important that your voter registration application be filled out completely and be postmarked or hand-delivered to your county elections office at least 15 days before the election.

To request a paper voter registration application be mailed to you, please call (800) 345-VOTE(8683) or email Elections Division staff.

How to fill out a California Voter Registration Card (ASL)

Same Day Voter Registration (Conditional Voter Registration)

In elections conducted by your county elections official, you can “conditionally” register and vote at your county elections office after the 15-day voter registration deadline. For more information please go to Same Day Voter Registration.

College Students and Voters Living Abroad

If you are a Californian living away from home while attending a college, trade school or technical school, or a voter living temporarily outside the United States, please see College Students and Voters Living Abroad.

Are You Already Registered to Vote?

To find out if you are currently registered to vote, visit Check Status of Your Voter Registration.

When to Re-Register to Vote

  • You change your residence address or mailing address,
  • You change your name, or
  • You change your political party choice.

As a California voter, be aware that local elections in some areas are held on dates that do not coincide with statewide election dates. The 15-day close of registration deadline for these local elections varies depending on the actual date of the election. If you need to know a deadline for a local election, contact your county elections office or visit County Administered Elections.

California Motor Voter

The California Motor Voter program is making registering to vote at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) more convenient. Eligible applicants completing a driver license, identification (ID) card or change of address transaction online, by mail or in person at the DMV will be automatically registered to vote by the California Secretary of State, unless they choose to opt out of automatic voter registration. For more information, visit California Motor Voter

How to Cancel My Registration

If you are currently registered to vote in California and would like to cancel your voter registration, you can complete the California Voter Registration Cancellation Request Form (PDF) and submit it to your county elections office. If you have any questions, you can contact your county elections office or the Secretary of State's Voter Hotline at (800) 345-VOTE (8683).

Voter Registration Drives

Anyone distributing voter registration cards in California should be familiar with the rules and regulations for conducting voter registration drives.

Voter Registration Statistics

The Secretary of State is responsible for producing a statistical report detailing voter registration numbers in California. To view these reports, please go to Voter Registration Statistics.

Voter Bill of Rights

The law prohibits your voter registration information from being used for commercial purposes. Report any problems to the Secretary of State's Voter Hotline at (800) 345-VOTE (8683). For additional information regarding your voting rights, please go to Voter Bill of Rights.

The Board of Elections reversed its decision and removed online access to its voter registration books after many raised privacy concerns.

How to change your political party

How to change your political party

Bowing to fierce criticism from elected officials and privacy advocates, the New York City Board of Elections has removed the voter enrollment books that it had posted online, which had included every registered voter’s full name, party affiliation and home address.

The books, spanning thousands of pages in searchable PDF format, were quietly posted in February, the first time they had been available on the Board of Elections website. Officials said the online publication was necessary given changes to election law at the state level.

But after a series of news reports regarding the decision, some election and privacy experts warned that it could make sensitive personal information too readily available. And officials including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council speaker, Corey Johnson, warned that the decision to publish the books could undermine public trust in the electoral process and jeopardize the security of voter information.

By Tuesday, the voter rolls had been removed from the Board of Elections’ website. Michael Ryan, the board’s executive director, said the board had made the decision during a conference call on Monday, partly in response to public outrage following the media reports.

“Up until a media inquiry into this matter, we had seen no complaints from anyone that this information was there,” Mr. Ryan said on Tuesday during a previously planned City Council hearing about election reform.

But, he said, “Since people were getting upset, we took it down.”

Voter rolls are public information by law. Political parties have long used voter rolls to target potential supporters. But historically, anybody interested in accessing it had to make a request to the state or local Board of Elections, which would then provide it on a CD or in a printed book, sometimes for a fee.

Elections experts said that those requests or purchases formed a log of who was trying to access the information. It also allowed elections officials to stipulate how the information could be used, such as for noncommercial purposes only.

The availability of voter data has become a flash point in recent years, as digital privacy concerns have gained prominence, and as President Trump’s administration has sought to collect voter information for apparently political purposes.

Only two states, North Carolina and Ohio, make their data freely available for download on public sites, according to Michael McDonald, an associate professor at the University of Florida who runs The United States Election Project, which tracks election law across the country. Washington, D.C., published its voter rolls online in 2016 but discontinued the practice after receiving blowback.

Privacy experts worried that the ready availability of the information could endanger domestic violence survivors and others who might be subject to harassment, stalking or mail spam. Domestic violence survivors can request to be removed from the public rolls but must first obtain a court order.

Elected officials had denounced the board’s decision to publish the rolls online after WNYC reported it on Thursday.

“I think it was a mistake,” Mr. Cuomo said on Monday. “Putting people’s personal information online — in this new world, we’re worried about hacking, we’re worrying about identity theft.”

He added: “People can take it and use it to bad effect one way or the other.”

A spokeswoman for Mr. Johnson said on Friday that the Council would probe whether the information’s publication violated the law. And Mr. de Blasio said on Monday that though he supported additional transparency, the Board of Elections, which has long been plagued by accusations of inefficiency, should have alerted voters that it was posting the rolls.

“Out of the mists of years and years of not giving us very clear information and purging people in the middle of the night, suddenly everything is online,” the mayor said.

Mr. Ryan had defended the decision as a one-off response to changes in the state election law that occurred earlier this year, which moved up the deadline by which the board is required to publish voter enrollment books. Because the board could not print books in time for the new deadline, he said, it decided to post digital files.

The board did not publicize the reversal of its decision, nor did it inform the City Council before a council member asked about it at the hearing on Tuesday. The page where the books were previously posted now directs people to visit a Board of Elections office in person.

Mr. Ryan said the decision to remove the books from the board’s website was also influenced by practical reasons: The voter rolls were no longer needed by candidates seeking to win a spot on the ballot for this year’s primary elections, he said; the deadline for submitting petitions has passed.

Albert Fox Cahn, the executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, a privacy advocacy group, said the Board of Elections had made the right decision to take the information down, but that it might have been too little, too late.

“We’re still alarmed that information on millions of New Yorkers could be exposed so easily,” Mr. Cahn said in a statement. “This episode highlights just how vulnerable our privacy is.”

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Department of State

New Jersey Division of Elections

The Hon. Tahesha Way, Secretary of State

11/5 Reports of Robo-calls Directing Voters to Incorrect Polling Locations

Some counties in NJ have received reports of robo-calls directing voters to incorrect polling locations. We are advising all voters to check authorized State and county web sites for the correct information.

You can look your polling location up on the Division of Elections website at https://voter.njsvrs.com/elections/polling-lookup.html

A registered voter currently affiliated with a political party who wishes to change their party affiliation must file a Political Party Affiliation Declaration Form 55 days before a Primary Election.

A registered voter currently not affiliated with a political party may declare their party affiliation up to and including Primary Election day.

You can print and complete the Political Party Affiliation Declaration Form and mail or deliver to the Commissioner of Registration in your county or you can also file it with your municipal clerk. These cards are also available at your local Commissioner of Registration Office.

The Commissioner of Registration cannot accept faxed copies or an electronic transmission of Party Affiliation Declaration Forms, since an original signature is required.

You can apply to register to vote in any of the following ways:

  • Online at RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov
  • Apply through any of these agencies while accessing their services:
    • Florida driver license office. You also have the option to submit voter registration information online when you renew your driver license online through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ online renewal system. For more information, visit GoRenew.com.
    • Tax collector’s office that issues driver licenses or Florida identification cards
    • Voter registration agency. For more information about who these agencies are, visit our NVRA webpage.
      / Español PDF (version 10/2013 pre-CS/SB 7066)

    Paper application forms may be found at any county Supervisor of Elections office, local library, or any entity authorized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to issue fishing, hunting, or trapping permits. The form contains detailed information as to how to submit the form to your county Supervisor of Elections. If you are a military or overseas U.S. citizen, you may register to vote and request a vote-by-mail ballot at the same time by using the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). Go to the web page on Military and Overseas Voting for further details.

    It is a 3rd degree felony to submit false information. Maximum penalties are $5,000 and/or 5 years in prison.

    How Do I Update My Voter Registration Record?

    If you are already registered to vote in Florida but you need to update any information on your voter registration record, you can submit a change using any of the options available under “How Can I Register to Vote?”.

    For name and party changes, you must use either the online voter registration system or the paper form and it must include your Florida driver license number or Florida identification card number, or the last 4 digits of your social security number, whichever may be verified in the supervisor’s records.

    For an address change, you can use the online voter registration system or the paper form but alternatively, you may call or submit by available electronic means the change to your county Supervisor of Elections.

    For any other questions, call or email your county Supervisor of Elections.

    Voter Information Cards

    When you register to vote or update your voter registration record (e.g., change to your address, name or political party), your Supervisor of Elections’ office will mail you a new or updated voter information card. Review the card to make sure all information is correct. Keep the card with you as the card lists important information about your registration record and where to vote. The card includes your party affiliation, assigned precinct and polling place, and your assigned district offices (local, state, and federal).

    To replace a lost card, call or email your county Supervisor of Elections.

    Note: The card cannot be used as a form of identification at the polls.

    Voter Registration Deadlines

    The deadline to register to vote for an upcoming election is 29 days before the election.

    The deadline to submit a party change before a primary election is 29 days before that election.

    For information on voter registration deadlines for upcoming elections, please visit our Election Dates webpage.

    Are you still registered to vote if you moved or changed your name since the last time you voted? Simply follow the guidelines below to find out.

    Did you move within your county?

    If you moved from one place to another in the same county, you’ll need to notify the Voter Registrar in your county in writing of your new address. (In most Texas counties, the Tax Assessor-Collector is also the Voter Registrar. In some counties, the County Clerk or Elections Administrator registers voters.) There are several ways to do this:

    • Correct your current voter registration certificate on the back and return it to the Voter Registrar.
    • Fill out a new voter registration application form and check the “change” box.
    • When you apply for or change your Texas driver’s license, change your voter information at the same time.
    • As long as you reside in the same county, you can change your information online at the Secretary of State’s Voter Registration Name/Address Change website. The screen will prompt you through the process and the changes that you make will be forwarded to your county Voter Registrar for processing. You will be mailed a new certificate with your new address and be able to vote in your new precinct 30 days after you submitted your change. If you miss the 30-day deadline to change information on your voter registration certificate, you may vote in your former precinct as long as you still reside in the political subdivision conducting the election.

    Did you move to another county?

    If you moved to another county, YOU MUST RE-REGISTER! Fill out and mail a new application, or take it in person, to the Voter Registrar of your new county. (In most Texas counties, the Tax Assessor-Collector is also the Voter Registrar. In some counties, the County Clerk or Elections Administrator registers voters.) You will receive a new voter registration certificate 30 days after your application is submitted and accepted.

    If you are late to register in your new county, you may be able to vote a “limited” ballot on candidates or issues common between your old and new counties. You may only vote this “limited” ballot after you have moved to your new residence, during the early voting period by personal appearance at the main early voting polling place (not on Election Day) or by mail (if otherwise qualified to vote by mail) and if:

    • You are a current registered voter in your former county;
    • You would be eligible to vote in your former county on Election Day, if you were still living in that county;
    • You have not re-registered in the new county, or, if you have re-registered, the effective date of the new registration will not be effective on or before Election day.
    • If you feel you qualify to vote a limited ballot, we recommend that you contact the office of the Early Voting Clerk in your new county.

    Did you change your name?

    Promptly notify your county Voter Registrar in writing of the change. There are several ways to do this:

    • Correct your current voter registration certificate on the back and return it to the Voter Registrar;
    • Fill out a new voter registration application form and check the “change” box;
    • When you apply for or change your Texas driver’s license, change your voter information at the same time; or
    • As long as you reside in the same county, you can change your information online at the Secretary of State’s Voter Registration Name/Address Change website. The screen will prompt you through the process, and the changes that you make will be forwarded to your county Voter Registrar for processing.

    Not Registered?

    To vote in Texas, you must be registered. Simply pick up a voter registration application, fill it out, and mail it at least 30 days before the election date.
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