How does one unregister to vote?
May 29, 2007 11:21 AM   Subscribe

How does one unregister to vote?

Speaking perhaps hypothetically, cuz I'm not 100% certain I'm gonna do this; depends on what it entails. I'd just like to know what I gotta do before I decide.

How might a person take their name off whatever list it is that tells the government you're registered to vote? How does one stop being a Democrat legally?

I don't wanna become a Republican, and I don't want to stop being an American citizen. I just don't want to be counted when any political party figures out how many millions of registered voters are allegedly on their side.

How does one unregister to vote?
posted by ZachsMind to Law & Government (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can re-register to vote and check off "No Party Affiliation" to remove your affiliation with any party. You should be able to do this at the Post Office, I believe.
posted by tastybrains at 11:27 AM on May 29, 2007

Reregister as an independent (a.k.a no party affiliation).
posted by jamaro at 11:27 AM on May 29, 2007

That's for federal elections. I think its different for state and municipal stuff.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:31 AM on May 29, 2007

Contact the elections board in your area and have them remove you from the registry. You have to do this when you move from one location to another, so it is possible.
posted by youngergirl44 at 11:38 AM on May 29, 2007

I never made a party declaration when I registered to vote in Texas. Take a look at the voter registration application.
posted by birdherder at 11:42 AM on May 29, 2007

Contact the elections board in your area and have them remove you from the registry. You have to do this when you move from one location to another

I'm not sure that that's true- when I moved from FL to NY and called FL to see if I had to remove myself from the rolls, they said when I registered in NY, NY would contact FL about removing me from the rolls.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:43 AM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

You can re-register as having no affiliation. There's no restrictions to this rule at any state or local level.

Though when you register as an independent, make sure you don't register as an "Independent." In some states, it's the name of a party.

You certainly don't have to withdraw from participating in the electoral process if you don't want to be counted on a particular party's rolls. Though it would preclude you from voting in a primary in some states.
posted by owenville at 11:56 AM on May 29, 2007

The short version: die. The county would cross-check your death certificate against your registration and remove you from the list. Hey, you asked.

The long version: No. You can change parties but you can't "unregister." You can re-register in order to change party affiliation (or say you have none) or because your address has changed but you can't just ask them to not have you on file anymore.

If you are convicted of a felony, you are removed from the voting rolls, and likewise in some states you can't vote without an updated confirmation certificate, but your registration is not "deleted." If they didn't keep all the old records just for cross-referencing it would be much easier to register multiple times, re-register as a person who died a while back, etc.

If you don't want to be a party statistic, then just change your party on a new registration form. But the only way you can "unregister" in your state is to register in another.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:13 PM on May 29, 2007

I'm registered as no party affiliation, and that means that I get tons of junk mail from both parties trying to recruit me. It sucks. But it is interesting to see what the parties' tactics are for recruiting the unaffiliated.
posted by The World Famous at 12:29 PM on May 29, 2007

You may be able to unregister by doing nothing at all. In Massachusetts if you don't respond to the town census each year you'll be automatically stricken from the voter rolls. (I found that out one time when I tried to vote and was told I wasn't registered.)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:46 PM on May 29, 2007

Voter-list geek here:

You're not going to get yourself off these lists easily.

States are now required to keep up-to-date voter lists (not that they do, but that's another story). All states now maintain voter lists at the state (not town or county) level. So you could call the Secretary of State's office and ask to be removed from the list. Or you could call your local town/county elections board office and ask the same. Not sure if they'd do it (there are no federal laws regarding people asking to be removed) but, hey, you can try if it's that important to you.

Also: the less you vote, the less you will be contacted. People who vote in every election get contacted A LOT, for obvious reasons. People who vote only in the general Presidential election but not, say, off-year elections get contacted less (though last year both parties made a big effort to get those voters to the polls, with some success).

If you don't vote in two consecutive federal elections (i.e., if you didn't vote in 2006 and you don't vote in 2008) your state might put you on an "inactive" list. This would mean that your name would still be on the list, but it's a lot less likely that all but the most wealthy and/or desperate campaigns would contact you. If you did decide to vote, you would probably have to fill out a provisional ballot, which is unlikely to get counted.

The thing is, though, even getting off the voter file probably wouldn't keep you from being contacted. Most congressional-and-up level campaigns buy fancy-schmancy lists from private vendors. These lists are based on the voter file but usually use several years of voter files (to catch endemic data problems with state voter lists) and are "enhanced" with consumer data to get better phone numbers and help campaigns target voters who are likely to support their party (i.e., people who get HBO vote Democratic, women who watch the Gilmore Girls are slightly more likely to vote Republican than those who don't).

So you will probably still find yourself getting pitched to. And then if you were to suddenly, the day before the election, decide that it's really important to vote, you wouldn't be able to, unless you live in one of the 5 states with same-day registration. So that would be the worst of both worlds.
posted by lunasol at 12:48 PM on May 29, 2007

You may be able to unregister by doing nothing at all. In Massachusetts if you don't respond to the town census each year you'll be automatically stricken from the voter rolls. (I found that out one time when I tried to vote and was told I wasn't registered.)

Steven - just so you know, that is completely illegal and the city of Lowell is currently being sued for such issues.
posted by lunasol at 12:50 PM on May 29, 2007

they said when I registered in NY, NY would contact FL about removing me from the rolls

In theory, that's the way it's supposed to work. If you registered in three different states over the course of your life, each new state is supposed to tell the previous state to remove you from their list. Each state doesn't always do this, even if they are supposed to, so you could find yourself registered in all of the states you lived in. If this happens, you just have to contact the elections board and ask them to remove you.
posted by youngergirl44 at 1:16 PM on May 29, 2007

Your profile indicates you live in Texas. If you are registered to vote here, you are not registered by party. Instead, you choose what party primary you want to vote in on primary day. The next time it comes around, you can choose a different party primary to vote in if you want. So, if you want to "stop being a Democrat" in Texas, all you have to do is stop voting in their primary; you can vote in someone else's primary or you can simply stay home.

If you really want to cancel your registration altogether, check out the Texas Secretary of State web site to find out the right people to ask.

On preview, what birdherder said.
posted by Robert Angelo at 1:25 PM on May 29, 2007

I am in TX too. For some reason my voter registration card was returned. I never got it. When I went to vote I showed them my TDL and they had no record of me. I was no longer on the list. They called several place and finally told me that I could not vote in that election and I would have to re-register to vote. I thought it was funny. I have been voting in every major election ever since I was 18 and suddenly it was like I never registered to vote. So, maybe just return your registration card.
posted by nimsey lou at 1:34 PM on May 29, 2007

FWIW, there's been a lot of trouble with the new statewide voter registration system used in most Texas counties. This story in the Chronicle has some details; they've had several stories about it in recent months.

When I moved from Galveston County to Brazoria County in February, I re-registered and had my registration rejected because my drivers license number was supposedly incorrect. I filled out the form again and mailed it in, but never received a voter card. A few weeks before the May 12 election I called the County offices to find out if I was registered or not. They said I was, but there was a big backlog getting the voting cards printed due to "computer problems." No kidding. The nice lady set me up to have a card re-printed, which I received a few days later.
posted by Robert Angelo at 1:44 PM on May 29, 2007

I'm not a Texan so I don't know what the rules are there but I used to be a poll judge in NC. The best and quickest thing for you to do is go to your local Board of Elections and tell them what you want to do.

After reading some of the horror stories above I have to say-you people need to start asking for provisional ballots! The law says they basically have to bend over backward to find a way for you to vote-so if you have suddenly disappeared from the rolls you are not Suddenly Out Of Luck. They should give you a number to call to let you know the status of that provisional ballot once you cast it.
posted by konolia at 2:04 PM on May 29, 2007

they said when I registered in NY, NY would contact FL about removing me from the rolls

Yeah, when my parents went to vote in Virginia last year, they found that I (an Oregon and Washington resident for the past six years), my oldest brother (a California and New York resident for the past five years) and another brother (an Ohio resident) were all on the rolls in our home town, even though we're all registered to vote in our new residences, too. I think I'm also still registered in Washington even though I'm in Oregon.

I knew a guy who got two ballots in vote-by-mail Washington, one sent to his new home in the southern part of the state and one sent to his parents.

It's hard to disappear from the system, even when you try. This stuff isn't just done state by state, it's often county by county.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 4:37 PM on May 29, 2007

For what it's worth, vecause it's relatively easy to register as a member of a major party, and even once you do it doesn't guarantee you'll vote for them, the voter registration numbers don't really matter for the parties. I've been active in politics for years and have never heard a party claim any sort of mandate just based on the number of voters registered with them. Generally donor figures are more useful for this.
posted by jk252b at 7:08 PM on May 29, 2007

States have their own election laws. In California, if you don't vote for a certain number of elections, you drop off the voter registry. Call your county registrar recorder or state election commission.
posted by HotPatatta at 12:32 AM on May 30, 2007

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