How to Vote This Fall (We’ve Got You Covered) | A Cup of Jo

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I’m simply gonna come proper out and ask…do you know find out how to vote this yr? In case you (like me!) are greater than slightly confused, you’re not alone. So, we compiled a HUGE checklist of widespread questions and introduced them to Andrea Hailey, the CEO of Vote.org (one of many largest voting-rights advocacy teams within the U.S.) to assist us put collectively an FAQ on voting in 2020…

In a nutshell, sure, issues are much more sophisticated this time. However that doesn’t change your constitutional proper to vote. And whereas voting is all the time essential, it truly is extra essential than ever this yr. “This isn’t a fireplace drill,” Hailey stresses. “We are saying each election yr is essential — this actually is the true factor.”

Roger that! Let’s DO THIS. However first, let’s determine how.

Is it too late to register to vote? How do I do know if I’m registered?
No, it’s not too late! As of immediately, September ninth, you continue to have time — however not loads. Many state deadlines are just a few weeks away, so if you might want to register, do it immediately. The excellent news is that you’ve choices: Relying on the place you reside, you might be able to register on-line or in-person, in addition to by mail. Some states even have same-day registration, however the necessities range. Right here’s an inventory of registration deadlines and necessities. To be secure, all the time double test your individual native election official’s workplace or web site for any latest modifications. This hyperlink will direct you to it.

You possibly can test your registration right here, or in your native Secretary of State’s web site. In case you are a U.S. citizen overseas, or within the navy, you will discover your info by way of Abroad Vote Basis.

I simply moved to a brand new state. Do I vote in my new state or previous one?
You vote wherever your residency is. So, in the event you’ve simply moved and need to vote there, then register as a resident of your new state ASAP. In case you transfer after the registration deadline, you must nonetheless be capable of vote in your new state supplied you will have enough proof of residency. All of it depends upon the state’s voter ID legal guidelines, which you’ll be able to test right here.

What about school college students who’re going to out-of-state faculties?
It’s just about the identical guidelines as above, in that it simply depends upon the place their residency is. In case you’re going to high school in New York (like, in particular person — not just about), however you’re a resident of Indiana, then you may both request an absentee poll from Indiana or change your residency to New York and vote there. FYI, loads of faculties have ready for this and will be capable of give you all the data you want. Many are proactively reaching out to college students with the required information, nevertheless it couldn’t damage to name forward in the event you haven’t moved in but!

Is there going to be in-person voting this yr? If that’s the case, the place do I do it?
Sure, there might be in-person voting this yr. As with every different yr, make sure you test your polling place upfront. Here’s a helpful checklist of polling-site locators by state. Click on in your state and also you’ll be directed to the suitable website to your state, and prompted to enter your info. You should use this checklist to test poll-site opening and shutting instances by state, too.

Can I vote by mail? Additionally, is mail-in voting the identical as absentee voting?
To begin with, sure, they’re principally the identical factor; it’s simply complicated as a result of the semantics can range by state. However all of them have an choice to, as Andrea calls it, “vote in your pajamas.” Usually, you might want to meet sure necessities to get a mail-in poll (being in another country, having a incapacity, and so forth.). This yr, many states (however not all) have eradicated or modified their necessities, in order that anybody who needs to vote by mail can achieve this. As ever, it varies. States typically fall into three classes this yr:

“No excuse” states permit everybody to request a mail-in poll, no questions requested.
“Excuse” states require you to offer an accredited excuse when making use of for an absentee poll. In lots of (however not all) of these states, COVID-19 is taken into account a sound “excuse.”
“All-mail” states are routinely sending mail-in ballots to each registered voter. Solely a handful of states are doing this, so in order for you a mail-in poll, then assume it’s a must to apply for one. Right here’s the hyperlink to take action.

Another essential factor: Some states mandate that mail-in ballots be signed by witnesses or notaries, or despatched with a duplicate of your ID. Be sure you test your state’s necessities earlier than sending yours in.

I bought a mail-in poll for the primaries. Will I routinely get one for the overall election?
Nope. Except you reside in an “all mail” state, you’ll have to request a mail-in poll for the overall election.

When is the deadline to request a mail-in poll?
The technical deadline varies, however Andrea stresses that the actual deadline is now. “That is going to be the largest crunch on this election,” she says, for 2 causes: “The slowdowns with the Postal Service, and the elevated demand for mail-in ballots.” Some states are used to dealing with loads of mail-in ballots, she says. However for many, it’s going to be an enormous and sudden adjustment. “Some states are going to go from 2% mail-in ballots to 60%.” And if election officers are flooded with requests coming in on the final minute, it’s going to be actually tough for them to get all these ballots out in a well timed method.

“You understand how we needed to flatten the COVID curve? We additionally must flatten the request curve,” Andrea says. Getting your utility in early helps be sure that your vote will get counted, and that your fellow residents’ votes are counted too. In case you’re questioning what you are able to do to assist with this election? Right here you go: Request your mail-in poll immediately.

When is the deadline to return my mail-in poll?
Similar reply: As quickly as you probably can. There are totally different necessities for every state, however the longer you wait, the upper the danger of disenfranchisement for you and others.

I’ve already requested my mail-in poll. When will I get it?
States sometimes begin sending out ballots round 30 to 45 days previous to the election (right here’s an inventory of mailing timelines by state). However once more, it’s 2020. Officers are going to be coping with an unprecedented variety of requests, together with all types of different logistical challenges. It’s onerous to know precisely when your poll will arrive, nevertheless it completely doesn’t damage to name and test in together with your election officers (once more, right here’s the hyperlink to get their information). If others in your neighborhood have already gotten their ballots and also you haven’t, or if the election is lower than three weeks aways, undoubtedly name.

FYI, in the event you do suspect one thing has gone awry together with your poll — or in the event you’re going through every other points with voting, you can too name Vote.org’s Election Safety Hotline at 866-687-8683.1-866-687-86831-866-687-8683

What if I request a mail-in poll, then change my thoughts and resolve to vote in particular person as an alternative. Is that allowed?
This one is dicey. Technically, you all the time have a proper to vote, however doing one thing like this may make issues very sophisticated. And that is actually not the yr to make issues extra sophisticated. “We all the time inform folks to plan their vote, after which follow that plan,” Andrea says. In case you get a mail-in poll, you must use that poll.

I’m nervous about sending my poll in by way of USPS. Are there different methods I can flip in a mail-in poll?
Most states permit you to drop off a mail-in poll by hand at a chosen drop-off location. In lots of instances, it’s the workplace of your native election official, or a poll drop field. To seek out out the choices to your state and county, click on right here.

The place can I discover out about early voting? Ought to I try this if I can?
Nearly all of states do have early voting, and it’s a GREAT possibility for people who need or have to vote at a polling place. “For these which might be going to vote in particular person, I extremely suggest that they go forward and get their vote in early,” says Andrea. “You’ll keep away from loads of the congestion and contours.” Voting early additionally eases a little bit of the burden on the system on election day, so if you are able to do so safely, it’s a superb possibility. “Go forward and get it finished, after which arrange all your pals to vote.” Right here’s an inventory of early voting dates by state. I imply, come on! No traces!

PS: In case you wished to vote by mail as a result of COVID, however dwell in one of many states that does acknowledge COVID as a sound “excuse,” Andrea suggests this as the subsequent best choice. It’s not the identical as voting at house, nevertheless it includes far much less publicity to others.

I hold listening to that we gained’t have any outcomes on election evening. Is it actually going to take days or even weeks?
Sure, in all probability! And that’s a great factor! “Individuals are used to understanding the outcomes of an election by the 11 o’clock information, and this yr we shouldn’t have that expectation. We should always go in with the expectation that every one these mail-in ballots are nonetheless coming in and nonetheless being counted. And we wish each vote counted, proper? That’s what’s essential.” Given the share of mail-in ballots anticipated this yr, it should seemingly take a number of days or per week earlier than we’ve got outcomes. I KNOW. It could be annoying as hell, “nevertheless it’s not a trigger for concern,” Andrea says. “It means votes are being counted the way in which they need to be.”

I heard they’re on the lookout for ballot employees. How can I apply?
Sure, there’s a nationwide scarcity of poll-workers this yr — and so they place a vital position in enabling in-person voting. (And many individuals have to vote in particular person, together with these with sure disabilities, and those that want language help.) “Most ballot employees are, you realize, our aunties and uncles and grandparents — individuals who’ve been doing this job without end and volunteer yearly,” says Andrea. Lots of them are within the COVID high-risk age group of 65 or older, and easily can’t threat the publicity. “It’s going to be incumbent on a brand new technology of individuals to step up and grow to be ballot employees.” In case you’re , right here’s a easy information on the way it works and find out how to apply.

I’m so panicked about this election. I’ve bought my voting plan in place however I hold listening to from mates and family who simply appear so disillusioned that they’re like, “Why trouble?” I don’t know what to inform them. How do I assist encourage folks to vote?
First, inform them they’re not alone. They’re amongst thousands and thousands of Individuals feeling the identical method “And that exhaustion individuals are feeling? That disaffectedness, that mistrust — that’s on objective,” says Andrea. “That may be a suppression tactic, in and of itself.” Simply as there are advocates like Andrea, working to simplify voting for everybody, there are many people inside our political system who need us to really feel confused and cynical about voting.

“The one option to counter that’s with pleasure — pleasure about having the ability to construct the world you need to construct,” Andrea says. “I all the time attempt to remind folks, simply since you don’t vote doesn’t imply you don’t get management. And as this yr has taught us, it’s not simply your nationwide leaders that matter. Your mayor issues, your DA issues, the judges you have chose matter.” These are the individuals who will form the insurance policies that have an effect on your life — and everybody else’s lives too. “Even in the event you can’t do that for your self, there are lots of people on this nation who want you to point out up for them.”

Every other questions you will have? Let’s do that!

P.S. “5 issues I need to inform my white mates,” and who Joanna might be voting for.

(Photograph by Sean Locke/Stocksy.)

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