Everything to Know About Voting in the 2020 Election

There’s approximately a 0% chance you’ve missed this fact in the news or on Instagram, but in case you need a reminder: we’re only 19 days away from the Presidential election.

No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, exercising your right to vote is essential. Whether you’re a first-time voter or a seasoned voter with a few lingering questions, we’ve uncovered all the info you need to know as you head to the polls this year.

Am I Registered to Vote?

Before you even think about who you're voting for, you have to make sure you’re registered to actually vote–and luckily it’s really easy to check! Head to vote.org, and simply enter your name, address, date of birth, and email address to confirm you’re registered. Voting registration rules and deadlines vary state by state (in New York State, for example, the registration date already passed on October 9). In certain states, however, you can register to vote in person on election day. Get the full state by state breakdown at vote.org here.

Other than your state’s voter registration deadline, there are a few other deadlines you should know in the coming weeks. If you’re hoping to request an absentee ballot in New York State, the request must be received by October 27 online or via email, fax, or mail. But you can still apply in-person for an absentee ballot until November 2.

Tell Me More About Absentee Ballots

Many states have made obtaining an absentee ballot easier than ever because of coronavirus, but if you haven’t voted this way before, you might need a refresher. Step one: request an absentee ballot, which you can do here. If you’re planning to vote by absentee ballot, make sure you are aligned with the rules in your state (these rules differ by state, so it’s important to fully understand the rules in your state ahead of voting!).

Once you've requested your absentee ballot, you need to make sure you mail it back in time. In New York State, absentee ballots must be postmarked by November 3 (or delivered in person at a poll site or your local board of elections by November 3). Voters are encouraged to submit their ballots as soon as possible to make sure it’s received in time and counted. Again, absentee ballot rules differ by state–you can request an absentee ballot and learn more about the rules in your state here.

There have been issues reported with absentee ballots this year, like the nearly 100,000 defective absentee ballots that were sent to Brooklyn residents, so if you’re concerned about your ballot but still can’t vote in person on election day for any reason, look into early voting in your state. In New York State, for example, early voting will run from October 24 through November 1.

Can I Preview Who Is On My Ballot?

Everyone knows the Presidential election is the big-ticket item on November 3, but you may be less familiar with the Congressional or local elections taking place. Knowledge is power–you can easily see what your ballot will look like by entering your address on Ballotpedia, and you can learn more about the candidates from there.

Where Do I Vote?

An essential part of making your voting plan is figuring out where to go on November 3 to cast your ballot. A state by state polling place locator can be found here. In some states, you need to provide a photo ID to vote–make sure you’re familiar with your state’s rules here so you’re prepared with all the necessary documents and forms of ID on election day. If you have specific questions about your state's rules, you can chat with VoteRiders to confirm the requirements. And, since the coronavirus pandemic is ongoing, make sure you’re wearing a mask as you head to the polls. 

Once you successfully cast your vote, you may be tempted to share your civic duty exercise with the world on social media, but be careful. Many states have banned “ballot selfies,” so taking a photo of your completed ballot might not be the best idea. To play it safe, take a selfie with your “I Voted” sticker instead! 

Got Even More Qs? 

For even more election info, you should head to your state’s official election website for the most up-to-date information–find your state’s site here.

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