More than 67 million Americans have already voted in the 2020 election, and if you are not one of them, what are you waiting for?
Whatever the reason, don't wait any longer: create a voting plan now.
But just a week before election day, your voting schedule needs to be realistic. In particular, you should plan now to vote in person or to hand in your postal ballot if you already have one.
In other words, it is now likely being cut too tight to mail your ballot out to.
The United States Postal Service recommends, "As a sensible measure, send your full ballot before election day and at least one week before your state's deadline."
The deadlines vary depending on the federal state. Some states require voting papers to be received or postmarked before election day (for example, Louisiana must receive your voting papers by November 2nd). Others require ballots to be received by election day to be counted, including swing states like Wisconsin and Michigan.
Some states require ballots to be stamped by election day but have a deadline as to what time they can be received. For example, Pennsylvania requires a November 3rd postmark, but these ballots must arrive by November 6th or they won't be counted.
(You can look up your state's information here.)
So Tuesday is really the deadline. If you haven't got your stamped ballot in your mailbox, it's time to come up with a new plan.
The good news is that there is still plenty of time! If you have a postal ballot in hand, you should still have the option to drop it off at an election office, at a polling station, at a designated drop-off point, or in a Dropbox before or on election day. And if by now you haven't thought about voting, it is time for you to find out how you will vote in person, either early or on election day.
If you still want to vote by email, please cast the ballot
Postal voting does not have to literally mean postal voting. Most states offer some kind of submission facility.
In many states, you can cast your ballot at your local polling station. At least 20 states allow voters to cast their postal votes at their polling station on election day. And about 40 states offer some sort of Dropbox that voters can return ballots to, though that may depend on the county you live in.
Only two states – Tennessee and Mississippi – do not allow hand-delivery of ballots. Kentucky does not allow hand-delivery of ballots, but Dropbox locations do exist. For some reason, Missouri makes a distinction between absent voters (those who have a valid apology) and people who just prefer vote by email. Only those authorized to vote by post can hand in ballot papers. Mail voters must send by mail.
But, as always, check your state's rules or call your local polling officer to find the best dispensing option.
If you have requested a postal ballot and have not yet received it, or if you have a postal ballot and have not yet submitted it, you can still vote in person. In many states, such as Pennsylvania, you must take your postal ballot paper to the polling station and give it to the poll workers there. If you don't have a ballot – you requested one but never received it, or you threw it away, or your dog chewed it up – that's fine too. But like in Pennsylvania, you may have to vote on a preliminary vote. This counts as long as the election officials can prove that you have not already voted in the mail. This is only a protection against double voting, which is illegal despite the statements.
In some states, such as B. New York, your personal voting will automatically override your email voting. However, be sure to check your state's rules first. Other states like Florida will ask you to hand in your ballot. However, if you do not have it, do not have electoral officials cast a ballot in person unless they can prove that you have not yet cast a vote by email. Some states, such as Michigan, may require voters who fail to cast their ballots to sign an affidavit canceling the postal vote before they can vote.
If you've already sent your ballot or plan to drop it off as soon as you finish reading, sign up for ballot tracking if it's available where you live. In many other states, you can follow the progress of your voting on a state or local polling site via a voter portal. This is where you can find out if the electoral officials received your ballot and, in some cases, if it was rejected or accepted.
If your ballot has been rejected, some states allow you to go through what is known as a "healing process," and many other states have put in place procedures to cure ballot papers during the pandemic. This process allows voters to fix mismatched or missing signatures or other possible errors that could otherwise prevent their vote from being counted. In many places, polling officers are supposed to contact voters directly, but if something is wrong with your mail-in vote, you can always call the polling station yourself.
Otherwise, plan to vote in person as soon as possible
A personal vote is always an option for those who have not yet cast their ballot papers. If possible, do so now or as soon as possible instead of waiting for election day on November 3rd.
About 40 states offer some form of early face-to-face voting, and much of it happens this week. The dates and times vary by state and state. Check them out here. The queue for early voting was long in some places, but they could be far worse on election day. If for some reason you can't stand in line on November 3rd, you may be missing out on your chance to vote in the first place.
But if you can only vote in person on Election Day then stick to this plan and do it!
For those concerned about the Covid-19 risk of a personal vote, public health officials say it is relatively safe and about as risky as visiting a grocery store. You should still take precautionary measures, e.g. For example, wearing a mask, trying to stay 6 feet away from others while standing in line and at the polling station, washing your hands, or using hand sanitizer once you've voted.
If you are still concerned, check with your local election officials what precautions they are taking in your local location. This is another reason to vote early and try to do so outside of business hours when the polls may be less crowded.
As Vox's Dylan Scott reported, voting by mail is perhaps the safest option from a public health perspective. “But whether it is simply too late for you to vote by mail, or if you prefer to vote in person to eliminate the possibility of errors in your vote, if you are processed, you can safely vote in person. "
There is still plenty of time to cast your vote. The United States might see an unprecedented turnout in this election, but that still requires anyone with the right to step out and vote. So do it now.
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