If you’re invested in politics and interested in the direction of your country, voting is a crucial way to exercise your right to make a difference in those issues. However, there are different rules, deadlines, and times when you can vote, depending on your state. This can make it tough, especially if you just moved or haven’t voted in the state you live in yet. There is no one set of rules across the country. So how do you find out how to register to vote? We’ve got everything you need to know.

Register to Vote
First, you need to register to vote — that’s the #1 crucial step. If you don’t register first, you might not be able to vote on voting day. Though some states do have in-person registration the same day as the election, you don’t want to rely on that. Instead, just start the registration process now. Some states require you to register a month in advance of voting day.

What Do I Need to Register to Vote?
Again, there is no single answer here. At a minimum, you will need an address to put down as your residency when you register, and probably a social security number or driver’s license.

Start now to be safe and prepared. Laws can change within your state about voting requirements. Plus, if there’s a problem or your registration is lost in the mail, you need to give yourself time to do it again. Also, just like voting, you will save yourself stress if you start early.

Guidelines by State
Voting is a very local process in America. That’s both good and bad.

It’s good because by being decentralized, there are fewer problems if something goes wrong. An unfortunate result can be isolated easier, and one big mistake won’t mess up the entire country’s vote. It’s bad because the rules are different everywhere, and this makes it harder for citizens to participate due to confusion.

Voting is ultimately run by “We the People” — by volunteers, which are citizens who want to get involved. At its smallest level, it’s run by people like you. You can always check the website of your state’s chief election official.

Can I Register Online?
As of this writing, you can register to vote online in 39 states plus Washington, D.C. However, that could change depending on what your state legislature does. Though, it’s rare to implement a system to register online and then remove it.

Please understand, this is just to “register” to vote, not to actually vote online. There is no state where you can vote online in the actual election. But many states have early voting times before election day.

So get squared away with what you need to do and get ready to exercise your right to vote.