Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. Voting is our right. As moms, we can raise our voices while we raise future voters.
In 2020, voting is the single most important action we can take as Americans. We’ll be electing a president, one-third of the Senate, the entire U.S. House of Representatives, and many governors and state and local officials.
This year, Covid-19 has made people reconsider how to cast their vote safely, especially since people are being asked to avoid large crowds and to stay at least six feet apart from others to avoid contracting or spreading the virus. Citizens are also concerned that their ballots may not be counted if they mail them in rather than cast them in person. This “Q&A” answers questions you may have about voting this year.
Who runs the elections? Elections are run by state and local officials, even when a president and members of the US Congress are on the ballot. Every state has its own rules for how to manage elections. Here’s who runs the elections in your state.
When are the elections? In 2020, election day is Tuesday, November 3.
Do I need to be registered to vote? Yes. Every state requires citizens to be registered in order to vote. In most states, you need to register in advance of election day. A few states allow same day registration. Here’s where you can check to see if you’re registered, or do so if you’re not.
Given the coronavirus, what is the safest way to vote in person? Early!! Early poll voting usually happens over a period of a week or 10 days, which reduces crowd size and the amount of time you might have to wait in line. Find out if you can vote early in your state here.
What health precautions should I take at the polls? Wear a face mask that covers your nose and mouth. If you want to take an extra precaution, you could also wear a clear, plexiglass or plastic face shield. Stand at least six feet away from anyone else while waiting in line. Follow instructions to go directly to your voting booth and complete your ballot. Know who you plan to vote for in every category (from US president to county council rep, mayor, and judges) so you can vote quickly and leave. Have hand sanitizer with you to use after you vote.
If I vote at home, does my vote need to be received by November 3, or just mailed and postmarked by then? It depends on your state. But the earlier you mail in or deliver your ballot, the better. The goal should be to have all ballots received and counted by the end of the day November 3 so that a winner can be determined without a lot of confusion.
How do I know if I can vote at home by mail? These states allow voting at home by mail. If you want to vote at home, request your ballot NOW. You can do so online.
Can I drop off my ballot instead of mail it in? Most states allow voters to drop off their ballots at the election board offices, in secure ballot drop boxes, or at polling places. Check with your state elections office if you have questions. Many voters this year plan to complete their ballot at home, and then drop it off to avoid postal delays.
What is the difference between absentee voting and voting by mail? Functionally, they are the same. Some states restrict absentee ballots to those who have a disability or otherwise can’t go to the polls. Due to the Covid, many states have relaxed restrictions and are making voting at home available to anyone who requests a ballot.
How can I be sure my vote is counted if I mail it or drop it off? Make sure to sign your ballot and put the right amount of postage on the envelope (in most states, that means two stamps, rather than one). Some states also make it possible to track your mailed-in ballot online.
What time do the polls open and close? This map shows polling hours in your state.
IMPORTANT: MAKE A PLAN!
Apart from voting itself, the most important action you can take right now is to make a plan for how you will vote by November 3.
- Make sure you are registered to vote.
- Plan to vote early, either in person at your local polls or at home (to mail or drop off).
- If you want to vote in person, know where early voting polls are located and when they’ll be open. Wear a face mask and possibly face shield, stand six feet away from others, follow directions at the poll, and know who you plan to vote for in advance so you can vote quickly. NOTE: Early voting polling locations may be different from the polls open on November 3. If you’re planning to vote on November 3, make sure you go to the right poll!
- If you want to vote at home, request your ballot NOW.
- Complete your home ballot as soon as possible after you receive it, then drop it off at a secure drop box or at the polls. You can also mail it.