We Can’t Stress This Enough: Vote

We Can’t Stress This Enough: Vote

We Can’t Stress This Enough: Vote

We’re Answering All Your Questions About Election Day Logistics, Voter Registration, Mail-In Ballots & More

TL/DR: Your vote counts. Whether in person or by mail, make sure you cast your ballot in this year’s presidential election: Election Day is Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020. Voter registration deadlines vary state by state and some are coming up as soon as October 2nd (do it now, South Carolina!). Learn more at Vote.org

The United States has been through a pretty historic year. From murder hornets to unrelenting wildfires on the West Coast, the passing of RBG, and the widespread protests against racial injustices – not to mention that we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic – 2020 has sent us all on an emotional rollercoaster, leaving a lot of us feeling helpless. 

Believe it or not, we’re now coming up on the final months of the year. And that means one big thing: Election Day is right around the corner (November 3rd, to be exact). So, if you were feeling defeated or powerless over the ongoing national crises, now is your chance to make a genuine difference.  

Even if you’ve already heard it, like, a million times, we had to echo the nationwide PSA: CAST YOUR VOTE. Or stay home and vote from the couch, because this year, that’s an option, too (at least in the majority of states). Every single vote has the potential to impact the way our country is run over the next four years. If you want to see some things change – we sure do – it’s so, so important that you make your voice heard. 

This goes for all age groups: If you’re under 18, we’re not letting you off the hook. Grab your phone and text your family members, voting-age friends, teachers, coaches, former babysitters, and anyone else you can think of to remind them to vote. Donate your spare cash to Rock the Vote. Get on TikTok and make a viral video of yourself rapping all the voter registration deadlines for each state (if you do this one, tag us). 

During the last presidential election in 2016, only 58.1% of voting-eligible Americans cast their ballots (1). That means more than one third of Americans missed their chance to vote. Let’s change that number this year: The better voter turnout, the more that politicians are forced to pay attention to, and actually address, voters’ demands. 

We hope you’ll join us in proudly sporting “I Voted” stickers this November – and don’t forget to share these resources on social media so your followers can get their questions answered, too. 


I Haven’t Registered to Vote: What Should I Do? 

Drop and give us 20 push-ups. 

JK! If you haven’t registered to vote, then you should, ASAP. The deadline for voter registration varies state by state. For some states, it’s coming up in the next couple of days (hello, Alaska, South Carolina, and Rhode Island). Fun fact: If you live in North Dakota, you can skip this step. It’s the only state that doesn’t require residents to register in order to vote. 

If you’re a chronic procrastinator (no judgment), some states will also allow voters to register in person on Election Day. This is sort of a last resort – we definitely recommend you register and make a plan for how you’ll vote as soon as you can. This year hasn’t exactly had a great track record when it comes to things running the way they’re supposed to, so it definitely doesn’t hurt to get ahead of the game. That goes for mailing in absentee ballots, too (more info below). 

Here’s the list of registration deadlines for each state along with a link to that state’s respective voter registration or general election information page. Remember, every state has different rules and requirements – so make sure to read up on your own state’s unique policies. 

  • Alabama: Registration Deadline: October 19, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • Alaska: Registration Deadline: October 4, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • Arizona: Registration Deadline: October 5, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • Arkansas: Registration Deadline: October 5, 2020 by mail or in person | REGISTER HERE
  • California: Registration Deadline: October 19, 2020 | REGISTER HERE | Residents can also register in person on Election Day
  • Colorado: Registration Deadline: October 26, 2020 | REGISTER HERE | Residents can also register in person on Election Day
  • Connecticut: Registration Deadline: October 27, 2020 | REGISTER HERE | Residents can also register in person on Election Day
  • Delaware: Registration Deadline: October 10, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • Florida: Registration Deadline: October 5, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • Georgia: Registration Deadline: October 5, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • Hawaii: Registration Deadline: October 5, 2020 | REGISTER HERE | Residents can also register in person on Election Day
  • Idaho: Registration Deadline: October 9, 2020 | REGISTER HERE | Residents can also register in person on Election Day
  • Illinois: Registration Deadline: October 6, 2020 by mail; October 18, 2020 online | REGISTER HERE | Residents can also register in person on Election Day
  • Indiana: Registration Deadline: October 5, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • Iowa: Registration Deadline: October 24, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • Kansas: Registration Deadline: October 13, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • Kentucky: Registration Deadline: October 5, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • Louisiana: Registration Deadline: October 5, 2020 in person or by mail; October 13, 2020 online | REGISTER HERE
  • Maine: Registration Deadline: October 13, 2020 in person or by mail | REGISTER HERE | Residents can also register in person on Election Day
  • Maryland: Registration Deadline: October 13, 2020 | REGISTER HERE | Residents can also register in person on Election Day
  • Massachusetts: Registration Deadline: October 24, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • Michigan: Registration Deadline: October 19, 2020 | REGISTER HERE | Residents can also register in person on Election Day
  • Minnesota: Registration Deadline: October 13, 2020 | REGISTER HERE | Residents can also register in person on Election Day
  • Mississippi: Registration Deadline: October 5, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • Missouri: Registration Deadline: October 7, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • Montana: Registration Deadline: October 26, 2020 by mail | REGISTER HERE | Residents can also register in person on Election Day
  • Nebraska: Registration Deadline: October 16, 2020 by mail or online; October 23, 2020 in person | REGISTER HERE
  • Nevada: Registration Deadline: October 6, 2020 by mail or in person; October 29, 2020 online | REGISTER HERE | Residents can also register in person on Election Day
  • New Hampshire: Registration Deadline: October 21, 2020 by mail | REGISTER HERE | Residents can also register in person on Election Day
  • New Jersey: Registration Deadline: October 13, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • New Mexico: Registration Deadline: October 6, 2020 online or by mail; October 31, 2020 in person | REGISTER HERE
  • New York: Registration Deadline: October 9, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • North Carolina: Registration Deadline: October 9, 2020; Afterwards October 15, 2020 to October 31, 2020 in person only | REGISTER HERE
  • North Dakota: North Dakota does not have a voter registration process, according to Vote.org. You just need to bring a valid proof of ID and residency to the polls in order to vote. | FIND A POLLING PLACE
  • Ohio: Registration Deadline: October 5, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • Oklahoma: Registration Deadline: October 9, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • Oregon: Registration Deadline: October 13, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • Pennsylvania: Registration Deadline: October 19, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • Rhode Island: Registration Deadline: October 4, 2020 | REGISTER HERE | Residents can also register in person on Election Day
  • South Carolina: Registration Deadline: October 2, 2020 in person; October 4, 2020 online; October 5, 2020 by mail | REGISTER HERE
  • South Dakota: Registration Deadline: October 19, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • Tennessee: Registration Deadline: October 5, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • Texas: Registration Deadline: October 5, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • Utah: Registration Deadline: October 23, 2020 | REGISTER HERE | Residents can also register in person on Election Day
  • Vermont: Registration Deadline: November 3, 2020 | REGISTER HERE | Residents can also register in person on Election Day
  • Virginia: Registration Deadline: October 13, 2020 | REGISTER HERE 
  • Washington: Registration Deadline: October 26, 2020 | REGISTER HERE | Residents can also register in person on Election Day
  • Washington, D.C.: Registration Deadline: October 13, 2020 | REGISTER HERE | Residents can also register in person on Election Day
  • West Virginia: Registration Deadline: October 13, 2020 | REGISTER HERE
  • Wisconsin: Registration Deadline: October 14, 2020 online or by mail; October 30, 2020 in person | REGISTER HERE | Residents can also register in person on Election Day
  • Wyoming: Registration Deadline: October 19, 2020 by mail | REGISTER HERE | Residents can also register in person on Election Day

I Want to Vote by Mail: How Do I Request a Mail-In Ballot? 

Due to concerns related to COVID-19 spread, mail-in (a.k.a. absentee) voting will be allowed this year for residents of all states besides Indiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Residents of those five states will still need to provide a “standard,” non-COVID-fear-related excuse in order to vote by mail – annoying, yes. An excuse not to vote? Definitely not.  

Some states are making mail-in voting easier than others: 

  • Vermont
  • New Jersey
  • Washington D.C.
  • Colorado
  • Utah
  • Nevada
  • California
  • Oregon
  • Washington 

These states sent all eligible voters a mail-in ballot automatically. Meanwhile, 14 other states automatically sent out mail-in ballot applications, and 35 total states will allow residents to claim COVID-19 as a reason to request an absentee ballot (2). 

There’s been some speculation on the news about whether or not mail-in voting promotes fraud. Turns out, this is a whole bunch of BS. Historical data has proven that voting by mail is a sound, reliable system – and we’ve been doing it since the Civil War, when Wisconsin enacted absentee voting legislation in the lead-up to the 1862 midterm elections (3, 4). 

Follow THIS LINK to find state-by-state information on requesting an absentee (mail-in) ballot. NPR also put together this useful interactive map that allows you to select your state from a drop-down menu to see what specific requirements you need to be aware of.  

If you are a resident of one of those five states that still requires an excuse for an absentee ballot, check your state’s voter resources website to find out whether you could still be eligible. Texas, for example, allows residents to request an absentee ballot under the following circumstances (5): 

  • you are 65 years or older;
  • you are disabled;
  • you will be out of the county on Election Day and during the period for early voting by personal appearance; or
  • you are confined in jail, but otherwise eligible, or certified for participation in the address confidentiality program.

Different states have different rules and guidelines, so make sure you visit your state’s own voter resources website (rather than relying on 3rd party websites) for the most accurate, up-to-date information. 


I’m Planning to Vote In Person: What Should I Expect?

Experts are predicting heavy turnout at polling places this year, so if you plan to vote in person, expect to see long, socially-distanced, outdoor lines on Election Day. We hate waiting in line as much as anyone else (and we feel for you, northern states – waiting outside for even 15 minutes in November can feel like a year in the North Pole) but it’s no reason not to show up. Plus, if you take advantage of early voting, wait times will probably be a bit shorter. 

In some states, early voting already started a couple of weeks ago (as early as September 18th in Wyoming, Virginia, South Dakota, and Minnesota). Check out this calendar to see when early voting begins where you live. 

If you wait until Election Day to cast your vote, and especially if you live in a larger city, you may have wait times of an hour or more. Wear a mask and bring headphones, a book, water, snacks, maybe a camping chair, and anyone you can find over the age of 18 who hasn’t voted yet – lines are way more fun with your BFFs. Oh, and definitely bring your wallet: Most states require a state or federal ID such as a driver’s license, military ID card, or passport in order to vote. 

For those living in a presidential swing state, you may notice a few random, serious-looking bystanders hanging around the polling place – they’re poll watchers sent by each party to monitor voting (kind of like the proctors who stared you down during the SATs).

New safety precautions will also be in place: Voters will be required to line up six feet apart, voting machines will be placed further apart, and plastic shields will be mounted to protect poll workers. Oh, and prizes! (sort of): Some states will be giving each voter their own pen to minimize the transmission of germs. 

Scheduled to work on Election Day and can’t vote early or vote by mail? Make sure to talk to your manager or boss about arranging your schedule in advance so that you have enough time (like, two or three hours, at least) to vote. Better yet, take the day off and spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying some much needed self-care. You voted, so you totally deserve it. 


Additional Resources

We hope that this article answered all your burning Election Day questions, but in case you still need more information, check out some of the following sites:

  • Vote.org, the largest nonprofit, nonpartisan voting registration and get-out-the-vote (GOTV) technology platform with high quality voter resources. 
  • VOTE411, a non-profit site created by the League of Women Voters that lets you compare candidates’ positions side-by-side, register to vote, and see how certain issues impact your county and state.
  • New York Times: How to Vote, an interactive tool that walks you through the voting options and processes based on the state you reside in. 
  • USA.gov Voting & Election Resources, which breaks down the voting and presidential election process, provides facts and historical details on US elections, and presents official resources on how to vote. 

Sources:

  1. Berman, A. (2016, November 14). Library Guides: Post-Election 2016 Recap & Resources: Voter Turnout. Penn State University Libraries. Retrieved from guides.libraries.psu.edu/post-election-2016/voter-turnout
  2. Swasey, B. (2020, October 1). Map: Mail-In Voting Rules By State — And The Deadlines You Need. NPR.org. Retrieved from npr.org/2020/09/14/909338758/map-mail-in-voting-rules-by-state
  3. Weintraub, E. L. (2020, May 27). Facts About Voting by Mail. Federal Election Commission. Retrieved from fec.gov/resources/cms-content/documents/2020-05-27-ELW-Facts-About-Voting-by-Mail.pdf
  4. President Trump Ignores the Long History of Absentee Ballots. (2020, September 11). Constitutional Accountability Center. Retrieved from theusconstitution.org/blog/president-trump-ignores-the-long-history-of-absentee-ballots/
  5. Absentee Ballot Rules. (n.d.). Vote.org. Retrieved from vote.org/absentee-voting-rules/

Writer: Emily Fearey is a freelance writer, content marketer, and The FIXX Editor in Chief. Based in Boston, MA, she spends most of her spare time hiking, baking bread, and taking care of her equine dependents. Find her online at www.cwriting.com

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