I was planning to run this on October 1st, but lost track of time, given everything else that is going on. Mail-in ballots have already gone out in a lot of states. (Sorry to spam you, but this information is important.)
Checklist to help make sure your vote gets counted:
For statewide requirements (registration, absentee ballots, etc.) check fivethirtyeight.org
- Make sure your registration is up to date NOW. If there are problems, or if you have changed your name, address, or party affiliation since you last registered, reregister ASAP. That includes Americans living overseas, either civilians or military.
- Develop a plan for voting: If possible check to see what options you have for voting: early voting, absentee/vote-by-mail, etc. Your registrar of voters website should have this information. Decide — will you vote by mail? At the polls? Early? If you choose to vote early, when will you do so? How does the pandemic affect those plans? Given the issues with the postal service consider early voting or vote by mail. Given the pandemic and the machinations against voting by mail, we’re all between a rock and a hard place.
- Unless your state/county automatically sends out ballots to all voters (Washington, Oregon, some counties in California) determine what the first and last dates for requesting an absentee ballot are. Send in your request ASAP — now, if possible.
- Know when ballots are being sent out. If you do not receive yours within a few days, call the registrar of voters.
- If your state requires an excuse in order to get an absentee ballot, find out what excuses are acceptable and whether you might fulfill the requirements. Talk to your doctor if necessary.
- Find out if there are other restrictions on voting. Alabama, for example, requires two witnesses or a notary. Alaska requires one witness or a notary.
- According to the Washington Post, in many states the USPS will be unable to handle the ballots in a timely manner. If this is still the case in October, IF POSSIBLE DO NOT MAIL YOUR BALLOT. Find out where you can drop ballots off. Can you drop them off well before election day? Does your county have drop off boxes? Where are they, and what hours are they available? Can you drop them off at the registrar of voters office? Can you drop them off at the polls?
- Return the ballot as soon as you can after you receive it.
- If you will need help either filling out or dropping off the ballot, check and see what the rules are about this. Some counties and states make various accomodations for the disabled. They should be listed on the registrar’s website. Contact the registrar of voters if there is a problem.
- If you do choose to use the USPS, check the front of the ballot. Some ballots require extra postage. Make sure to use an extra stamp or two to make sure the ballot gets to where it needs to go. If the ballot needs to be in by election day (or sooner) not simply postmarked by election day, make sure you leave enough time for it to get there. Given the issues with the mail, allow a lot of time. Again, it is best if you send it in as soon as possible after you get it.
- Before you drop it off, either in a dropbox or in a mailbox, MAKE SURE YOU SIGN THE BALLOT.
- Some counties and states have ways to check where your ballot is in process. (E.g. using bar codes or numbers on ballot stubs.) If that’s possible, after a couple of days check up on your ballot.
- Develop a plan for going to the polls. What are the polling hours? When will you go? How long can you afford to spend there? Does your county have early voting locations, and would that be more convenient? If you are voting in person on election day, find out where your polling place is, and how to get there, if necessary. Is there an ID requirement? If so, make sure that you have the i.d. at hand.
MOST OF ALL, VOTE.
VOTE AS IF YOUR LIFE DEPENDED UPON IT.