We’re approaching the end of this year’s election season and, for the first time, tens of millions have already casted their ballots. This year has presented more ways to vote than ever before. Whether you’re voting by mail, voting early in-person, or voting on election day there are things to keep in mind to make sure you have a smooth voting experience. Read on to make sure you’re fully prepared to safely cast your ballot this year — and to make sure it actually counts!
I’m voting by mail
By now you’ve probably heard a lot of people talk about voting by mail. But, what you might not know is that hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots could be rejected this year for simple, avoidable errors made by voters. With so many important national, state, and local offices and issues on the ballot this year, we can’t afford to lose any votes. Before you submit your absentee ballot make sure you follow keep these things in mind:
- Read and follow all of the instructions. Some states require voters to use a certain color of ink to fill out ballots. Others require witnesses or have multiple envelopes or places for voters to sign. If you do not follow every instruction your ballot will be rejected.
- Use a consistent signature. Most ballots are rejected because the signature on the returned ballot does not match the signature a voter used when they registered to vote.
- Don’t wait. Return your ballot now! There are a number of ways to return your ballot: through the mail, in a drop box, or at your local election administrator’s office. If you’ve already received your ballot there’s no reason to wait until the deadline. Join the millions of Americans who have already voted and return your ballot today!
- Track your ballot. Don’t set it and forget it. Make sure your ballot is received and counted. In most states, if you see that there’s a problem with your ballot it can be fixed.
I’m voting early in-person
If you rely on in-person voting to provide the accommodations you need to cast your ballot, or if you’ve missed your state’s absentee ballot request deadline, the best option is to vote early. Voting early gives you the ability to pick a day that works best for you and your schedule. Here are some things to remember if you plan on voting early this year:
- There may be lines. Depending on where you live, you may encounter a long line to vote. Lines are generally shorter on the weekends and after the first few days of a state’s early voting have ended. It may also be a good idea to bring a snack and anything else you might need to be comfortable in case you encounter a longer line.
- Bring identification. If you plan on voting in-person don’t forget to bring the identification you need to vote. Some states require photo IDs while others allow current utility bills or bank statements.
- Be Safe. Make sure to wear a mask, bring hand sanitizer, and remain socially distant at all times. We’ve also developed a know your rights guide in partnership with Demos for what to do if you encounter any issues at the polls.
I’m voting in person on election day
For most people, voting in-person on election day should be seen as a last resort. But, if election day is the only day that works for you to vote make sure you know these things:
- Know where you vote. Because of the pandemic, states are cutting back on the number of polling places on election day, and your polling place may be different than it normally is. Make sure you know where to vote this year.
- Stay in line! Election day is the last opportunity to vote so election day voters may experience longer lines. If you are in line before polls close, you have a legal right to vote, so make sure that you stay in line until your vote is counted.
- Know your rights. Election day voters may be subjected to more aggressive disinformation from conservative activists. We expect these people to be mostly harmless, but we have put together this guide so that you know your rights at your polling place.
- Be alert. Donald Trump and his allies are trying to recruit to anti-democratic activists to intimidate voters, and while most voters probably won’t encounter any issues, it’s a good idea to stay aware of your surroundings as you vote in person. If you ever feel unsafe or uncomfortable at your polling place, get to a place where you feel safe and call 866-OUR-VOTE to report the issue.