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Downtown South Bend, Indiana

We are total nerds for elections. We love it!
But we are not officials, so please follow the links to the official information.

These are the questions we had while we learned to vote. I know, it's a lot. Once you start to vote it gets so much easier.

Welcome to your journey of being a voter!

Can I vote?

Yes, you can vote! If you:

  • Are registered to vote before the deadline of the next election.

  • Are a US citizen and a resident of Indiana.

  • Are or will be at least 18 years by election day.

  • Have resided in your precinct for at least 30 days before election day (meaning your name is on the voter roll for the precinct where you are voting).

  • Are not currently incarcerated following a conviction for a crime.

  • Bring your non-expired photo ID issued by the state of Indiana or the Federal government when you vote in person.

I think I'm registered. How do I know?

What if I'm not sure I meet these requirements? Or I'm told I can't vote?

  • You can still vote. Cast a provisional ballot in person at the polls on election day. This gives you and the county 10 days to verify whether you meet the requirements.

  • If you lack just the photo ID, you can still vote. Apply to vote via absentee-by-mail and see if you meet the reasons to allow you to vote absentee. A photo ID is not required to vote absentee-by-mail.

I am a college student. Where can I vote?

  • You decide where you want to vote! You can choose to register to vote and vote where you go to college. You can use the address of your dorm as your residence. If you have a non-traditional address, mark the closest cross street where you usually stay and provide an address where you are able to receive mail.

  • Or you can choose to vote where you live when you are not at college. You can apply to vote absentee if you will be away from home during the election.

I am Transgender. Can I use my ID to vote?

  • Yes! Even if your gender is not correct on your ID. But, your name on your voter registration and your ID do need to match.

What if I am in the military or I am overseas?

  • You can vote from wherever you are! Send your vote home to Indiana. Learn more through the Federal Voting Assistance Program here. And learn to ask Hoosiers you know who are living away from the state to send their vote home here.

I am homeless or I have a non-traditional address. Can I vote?

  • Yes, you can vote! If you meet the requirements and for your address on your voter registration, use the closest cross street of where you stay and provide an address of a shelter or friend where you can receive mail. Read about how to establish residency here.

I was incarcerated. Can I vote?

  • Yes! Your voting rights are restored after release from prison or jail. Check your registration and re-register if needed. Note, if you are awaiting trial, on home detention, or on parole you can vote. And if you are on work release or another community corrections program you can vote.

I moved to a different precinct within 30 days. Can I still vote?

  • Yes, you can vote! You can vote one last time in your old precinct. See the Indiana Voter's Bill of Rights for instructions on how to vote depending on your move.

What makes me an Indiana resident?

  • A utility bill, bank statement, or other official document showing your name and address. Or you can provide an affidavit. You show these documents when you apply for an Indiana driver's license or ID card. Note, when you move you need to update the address on your photo ID.

  • Read about how to establish residency here.

  • If you registered to vote by mail and it is your first time voting, you will be required to bring or mail this documentation to the polls or to your county voter registrar's office before you vote.

How do I register to vote?

You can register to vote online.

  • Have your state of Indiana driver's license or your state of Indiana ID card. Without the card you must register in person.

  • Complete the form at before the deadline of the next election.

You can register to vote in person.

  • At the BMV when you are getting your driver's license, permit, or ID card.

  • Apply in person at your county's voter registration office or your county clerk's office.

  • Apply at a public assistance office when you are applying for service or assistance.

You can register to vote by mail.

Complete either a Federal registration form here or an Indiana registration form here and mail it in per the form's instructions. Then before you vote for the first time, you will be required to bring or mail proof of residency to the polls or to your county voter registrar's office. Read about the residency documents here.

What if I registered to vote at an event where people asked me to register to vote?

That is the same as registering by mail, just someone else mailed it in for you. Check your voter status here

What if I need the registration form in another language?

  • You can complete a Federal registration form here and mail it in per instructions. The form is available in 21 languages.

How do I register as a Democrat?

By voting for Democrats in a primary election.

You cannot register with a political party in Indiana. And when you vote in a general election, which party you voted for is not recorded. So the only way to document your association with the Democratic Party is to vote for Democrats in a primary election.

How do I vote?

You got choices! You can choose to vote early in person, absentee-by-mail, or in person on election day.

  • Voting in person on election day. This means bringing your photo ID to a polling location. Your polling location is on your registration or you can look up your voting location here. When you show up to vote, a poll worker will check that you are on the voter rolls. If you are on the voter roll they will give you a ballot and provide you with instructions on how to fill out and submit your ballot. You will make your selections on your ballot in a private area. Then you will bring your completed, concealed ballot to another poll worker who verifies your ballot and you submit your ballot. Congrats on voting!

    • Note- if you are told that you are not on the voter roll, request a provisional ballot. You will vote the same as above and then you and the county have 10 days to verify you meet the voter requirements. If you do, then your vote will be counted.

  • Voting early in person is the same as above. Beginning 28 days before an election, early voting is available on certain days and hours, usually on weekends. There are fewer polling locations, likely you are going to a county building or city hall to vote.​

  • If you cannot vote in person, you can vote by absentee-by-mail. This allows you to receive a ballot and complete the ballot and mail it back or return it in person. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is usually about two weeks before election day. Read the reasons that allow you to request an absentee ballot here. And request an absentee ballot here.

  • Military and overseas voters have even more options and more time to vote. Check out to learn how to send your vote home.

When do elections happen?

  • Mark your calendars! General elections are always held the first Tuesday, after the first Monday, in November.

  • Each state determines when its primary elections are held. Indiana holds its primary elections on the first Tuesday, after the first Monday, in May.

  • Early voting begins 28 days before the election day.

What's the difference between a primary and a general election?

A primary election determines the major party candidates who will run in the general election.

Candidates for the Democratic, Libertarian, and Republican parties have a primary election to determine which candidate will be the one to represent their party in the general election. At the polling location, or when requesting a ballot if voting absentee, a voter chooses which party they want to cast a ballot for. There are separate ballots for each major party. A voter can only choose to complete and submit one.

Not every town will hold a primary election.

Sometimes primary elections will also include ballot measures where voters choose to enact laws or approve project funding.

A general election determines which candidate will become an elected official.

The general election ballot contains the winning candidates from the primary election. Plus, if no one from a major party ran in the primary, the party can add a candidate to the general ballot.

Sometimes general elections will also include ballot measures.

How do I know who I am voting for?

All elections are local.

Elections are run at the precinct level. You are on the voter rolls for a precinct and you vote for the offices that govern in your precinct.

What is a precinct?

A precinct in the smallest official designated area. It is also known as a voting precinct or a voting district. A precinct is usually the size of a neighborhood. Your voter registration will tell you your precinct, you can look it up here.

Is there a map showing my precinct and district?

We love maps! Maps are redrawn after each US Census so be sure to go right to the source to get the most recent map.

Your county website is the best place to find maps of your districts and precincts.

How do I know what offices I am voting for?

In even-numbered years, there will be Federal offices on the ballot.

Every other even-numbered year will have the US President's office on the ballot, also known as a Presidential Election. The even-numbered year without the President on the ballot is called a Midterm election.

In odd-numbered years, there will be either state, county, or municipal offices on the ballot.

Every other odd-numbered year will have only municipal offices on the ballot.

What do the offices do?

You elect people into office for all three branches of government at all levels of government.

The executive branch is in charge of implementing the laws and using the funds.

  • Federal level- The President

  • State level- The Governor, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, etc...

  • County level- Commissioners, Sheriff, Auditors, Assessors, etc...

  • Township level- Trustee

  • City level- The Mayor, the Clerk

The legislative branch is in charge of creating the laws and determining the budget.

  • Federal level- Your US Senator and US Representative

  • State level- Your State Senator and State Representative

  • County level- Your County Council

  • Township level- Township Board

  • City level- Your City Council, sometimes called a Common Council

The judicial branch is in charge of enforcing the laws.

  • Federal level- These are not elected. They are all appointed by the President and approved by the Senate.

  • State level- In Indiana, the State Supreme court judges and Indiana Court of Appeals judges are selected first by the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission who selects three candidates, then the Governor selects one of those three. 

  • County level- Circuit Court judges and Superior Court judges in Indiana are elected to 6-year terms in partisan elections and appear on your ballot. St Joseph County is different from other North Central Indiana counties as when there is a vacancy then rather than waiting for an election, a judicial nominating commission selects a nominee and the Governor approves, then voters decide in the next election if the judge should remain on the bench. St Joseph County also has a Probate Court and its judges are elected the same way as the Circuit and Superior Court.

  • Municipal level- There are some Municipal Courts in North Central Indiana. These include Elkhart, Knox, Goshen, Nappanee, Peru, and Walkerton. Municipal judges serve four-year terms and are elected in partisan elections and appear on your ballot if you live within a city that has a Municipal Court.

How do I pick which candidate to vote for?

It is your vote. You decide who is best for you. You can get a sample ballot in the voter portal prior to the election so you can see who the candidates are and you can look them up. Most candidates will have a website that states who they are and where they stand. Many will have campaign events where you can meet them in person. Some offices have public debates that are aired on local tv and radio. Talk with trusted friends and family about the candidates to see if they have additional information. Be aware of any misinformation and verify the facts with a local publication or with the candidate.

Does anyone know how I voted?

Whom you voted for is private only to you.

Your vote is counted. But whom you voted for is private, it is not public record, and no one can find out who you voted for.

Whether or not you vote is a public record.

Your publicly available voter record shows when you registered to vote, the address of your voter registration, and it shows what elections you voted in, and which ones you did not vote in. Personal information like your date of birth is removed from the shared voter file. In Indiana, the voter files may be requested by political parties, independent candidates, a member of the media for publication in a news broadcast or newspaper, the chief justice of the supreme court and clerks of U.S. district courts for administering the jury management system, the speaker and minority leader of the house of representatives, the president pro tempore and the minority leader of the senate. Voter files can only be used for non-commercial or political purposes.

Which party's ballot you chose to cast in a primary is public record.

Your voter file records which party's ballot you submitted during each primary, or whether you did not vote in a primary. Because you cannot register for a party in Indiana, this record of whether you voted in a Democratic primary is the only way to document your affiliation to the Democratic Party.

Where do I see who won?

Your county clerk will post the official results

Check out your county clerk's website for the official results of the election. You can see the breakdown of the voting results overall and by precinct. They may also post the unofficial results before they certify the election. Keep in mind that military and overseas voters have more time to vote, provisional ballots have 10 days to be counted, and voting results may be audited. So it can take between 15 and 31 days for election results to be certified.

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