Election season is upon us and we are less than one month away from election day. Across the country, there are many important federal, state, and local elections awaiting the decision of the people on November 3, 2020. This year in particular, many people are considering how they want to vote – either in-person at their polling place or via a mail-in (or absentee) ballot. Whether you plan to vote-by-mail or in-person this election, below are a few things to keep in mind as we get closer to Election Day.
First things first, make sure you are registered to vote. Each state has a specific date that you must register before in order to cast your ballot for this election. Depending on the state you live in, this deadline can be up to 30 days before election day. If you are unsure of your voter registration status, or your state’s registration deadline, you can check for free at vote.org.
- Confirm where your voting location is. Sometimes your polling place moves, or you yourself have moved. If you aren’t sure where to go, contact your local county government office, or visit vote.org and enter your address.
- Find the phone number for your state’s Office of Protection and Advocacy and have it at the ready. If you run into any issues – including the physical accessibility of the building or problems accessing the voting equipment – this is the correct office to advise you of your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- Take safety precautions. If you are planning to vote in-person, be sure to wear a face mask and do the best you can to follow social distancing guidelines. Have hand sanitizer ready or wash your hands after touching the buttons or levers in the voting booth, as well as after touching door handles.
Voting by Mail
- Know your state’s options. With the COVID-19 pandemic still causing concern for many voters, states are working to make voting by mail as accessible as possible. Some states are opting for the election to be primarily vote-by-mail and are mailing ballots to all registered voters in the state. Find a list of state-by-state voting updates at vote.org.
- Request your ballot. While some states are automatically sending out ballots to all registered voters, many others are not. Be sure to request your ballot in enough time to receive it and mail it back before election day.
- Read the ballot instructions carefully. Mail-in (or absentee) ballots have precise instructions for how they should be filled out and sent back to your county election office. Follow the instructions carefully, as ballots that are not properly filled out or signed may not count.