Let’s address the elephant in the room: a voting plan is not typically something we have to sort out. Usually, you know you’re golden if you’ve checked off the following boxes:
- you’re a registered voter;
- you have a valid ID;
- you’ve looked up your polling place or requested an absentee ballot.
Boom. From there, you just have to show up or mail in your ballot, and you’re good.
But since we’re in the middle of a pandemic, supply chains everywhere are being affected. And voters who rely on mail-in ballots this year might be up against delays, due to funding issues for the U.S. Postal Service.
No matter what you’re hearing or reading in the media, all forms of voter fraud are rare. The Heritage Foundation maintains an online database of election fraud and over the past 20 years, there have only been 1,296 proven instances of voter fraud. That’s fewer than 65 cases per year, which equates to an average of only slightly more than 1 per state every year.
Political scientist and elections scholar Michael McDonald explains in the New York Times that “frauds big enough to sway the outcome of an election — those involving campaigns rather than individual voters — will likely be detected.” So it really shouldn’t keep you from requesting a mail-in ballot if that is your best option to vote.
In these unprecedented times, it’s best to have a plan in place to make sure your vote counts. Let’s walk through the steps.
Are you registered?
The first step hasn’t changed. You have to make sure your voter registration is up to date.
Whip out that state ID — is it valid? I know most of us haven’t been driving as much these days, but this is the time to dust off that ID and check the expiration date. While you’re at it, check the address. Is that your current permanent address?
Look up your state’s COVID voting options
Depending on your state, you’ll have different voting options. Look up your state’s COVID-specific guidelines.
Is your state still planning to host in-person voting? And if they are, is that a safe option for you in this pandemic?
Know your deadlines
Now that you know your options for voting, know your deadlines. You’ve come this far — don’t let the deadlines get in the way of having your voice heard.
Scroll through this breakdown of the states below and their last day to request an absentee ballot, the first day states will mail those ballots to you, the first day of in-person early voting, and the last day to return your mail-in ballot.
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What’s your plan to vote? Is it in person or by mail? Where is your polling place? Make a plan TODAY. Here are dates to request vote by mail, first day of early voting, last day to return mail in ballots. USPS needs to be protected but we know how this administration responds to pressure 🤷🏻♀️🤷🏻♀️ SO ADDENDUM: make a plan to rise up.
Look at your options to vote and sit down with anyone who needs to be a part of your plan to make it work. Pick a date and time that you’re going to set aside to vote and mark it in your calendar.
Need reminders? Sign up for vote.org election reminders.
Have a back-up plan
One of the biggest concerns right now is that the Postal Service isn’t going to be able to keep up with the influx of mail-in ballots.
So if your plan was to mail in your ballot, keep an eye on the mailbox and the deadline for the last day to return your ballot. If it starts looming and you have the ability to safely vote in-person in your state, that might be the best way to ensure your vote gets counted.
Know your rights
Run into problems along the way? Report any intimidation, false information about voting requirements, or harassment to the Election Protection Hotline at 866-687-8683.
Or if you’re being turned away from the polls because you’re being told you’re not on the voter roll or don’t have the correct photo ID, follow this guide to protecting your vote.
Your voice matters. Don’t let these COVID times impede on your right to vote.
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