Voting During COVID-19
Voting during the COVID-19 pandemic
Amid the coronavirus crisis, public health officials have released advisory guidelines on voting safely during the pandemic. They have encouraged voters to adopt social distancing and sanitary measures, as well as workarounds to flocking to the polls on election day, such as mail-in and early voting.
Voting by mail (also known as voting absentee) entails the lowest risk of contracting coronavirus. All states accommodate some extent of mail-in voting, but the rules differ from state to state; in some states, voters must list an excuse for voting absentee, while others allow no-excuse absentee voting, and a handful of states even send mail-in ballots to all registered voters. You can visit your state’s election office website for state-wide voting guidance by clicking here.
Making sure your vote is counted
As many states have rushed to ramp up absentee voting due to the coronavirus, the influx of mail-in ballots have overwhelmed state and county Boards of Elections (BOE) and raised concerns about tossed votes, as seen in NY’s primary election in June; ballots were invalidated for reasons such as missing signatures and envelopes sealed by tape, but also for reasons beyond voters’ control, such as the lack of a postmark.
To ensure that you receive your ballot early enough to mail/deliver to your local BOE on time, you should click here to apply for your absentee ballot NOW.
Be sure to adhere to the following VBM rules and conventions:
Don’t forget to sign the outside of the VBM envelope!
Fill out the ballot with black or blue ink. No pencil or other colors. Avoid making any stray marks.
Mail your VBM ballot back to your BOE as soon as possible. It is your responsibility to ensure the ballot is received on Election Day.
Only fill out your own VBM ballot. Be careful not to mix it up with a family member’s ballot.
Take into consideration the possibility that a high volume might slow down the Postal Service. Mail/deliver your ballot early!
If you are worried about your vote being counted, you may still vote in person. Your in-person ballot will be counted instead.
Early voting is another way you can avoid election day crowds. Click here to check to see if your state allows early voting and find early voting locations/times.
VOTING ON ELECTION DAY
Finally, voting in-person on election day is always an option. Click here to find your polling place and upcoming elections, and sign up for election reminders! The general presidential election is on Tuesday November 3rd, 2020.
Be sure to plan the time that you go to vote and keep in mind potentially long wait-times that are especially prevalent in urban areas.
STAYING SAFE WHILE VOTING IN PERSON
When voting in person, it is important to be mindful of COVID-19 risks and take all necessary steps to prevent the spread of the virus. This includes mask-wearing, using hand-sanitizers, maintaining a distance of six feet or more from all strangers, and washing your hands when you get home.