Like many days that came before it in 2020, Election Day figures to be unique this year. The global COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of life as people know it, and it figures to change how they vote this fall as well.
The right to vote and participate in a representative government should never be taken for granted. Many people across the globe have no such right, so citizens of the United States should be grateful they can vote and express that gratitude by doing their part and voting each year on Election Day.
State and local governments may be approaching Election Day differently as they try to juggle their responsibilities to make voting accessible to all while simultaneously keeping voters safe during the pandemic. Voters can do their part by taking the following steps prior to Election Day, which is November 3, 2020.
· Confirm you are registered to vote. Voter registration deadlines differ by state. According to Vote.org, some states, including Colorado and Connecticut, allow eligible voters to register on Election Day and cast their ballots that very same day. But many states, such as Alaska, Hawaii, and Louisiana, require voters to be registered 30 days prior to Election Day. A list of state-by-state voter registration requirements can be found at www.vote.org/voter-registration-deadlines/.
· Learn the mail-in ballot policy in your state. Many voters may not vote via mail-in ballots on a typical ElectionDay, but 2020 is not a typical year. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. notes that all states offer some form of mail-in ballots. Many states are asking voters to vote via mail-in ballots in 2020 in an effort to reduce voters’ risk of getting and spreading the COVID-19 virus. Confirm the mail-in ballot policy and procedure in your state as early as possible to make sure your vote is counted.
· Return your completed mail-in ballot as soon as possible. Many states are urging voters who plan to vote using mail-in ballots to return their ballots as early as possible. In a mailer sent to all registered voters, the Superintendent of Elections and the Board of Elections in New Jersey noted it is critical that voters return their mail-in ballots early in the upcoming election season. Mail-in ballots can be returned via the United States Postal Service (all ballots include postage-paid return envelopes), and voters also may be able to return their ballots in person at their designated polling locations or by placing the ballots in secure ballot drop boxes. Confirm your mail-in ballot return options with your local County Clerk of Elections well before Election Day.
Election Day 2020 will be unique. Voters should not hesitate to take all necessary steps in advance of November 3 to ensure their votes are counted this fall.