This is a slightly longer/more detailed blogpost of a thread I posted on Twitter discussing ways in which we can educate, strategize, and prepare around our voting options amidst both the pandemic and blatant voter suppression.
Voting laws are determined at the state level. So every state is different in terms of whether or not there is mail-in/absentee voting, whether or not there is early in-person voting, what the hours are for Election Day voting, signature requirements, postmark deadlines, etc.
So let’s start with 4 excellent tools from 4 different sites that offer, in great detail, the vital voting information across all 50 states:
Of course as fine as these tools are, you can always check with your state and local Board of Elections for further details if necessary. And if you have any questions or concerns not addressed by these pages, it is highly recommended that you do so.
Now that we have educated ourselves with the necessary information, we need to strategize and prepare how best to vote.
There are so many variables to consider when voting this year:
Are you at a higher-or-lower risk for Covid due to your age/health or where you live?
Will potential mail-in ballots be delayed by USPS backlogs?
Can you vote early in-person safely?
So here are the strategic priorities that take these factors and more into consideration.
If your state offers early in-person voting and you are healthy/careful enough to do so, VOTE EARLY IN-PERSON.
This is the best way to make sure your vote is banked while lessening the strain on the Post Office.
BONUS: You get to avoid Election Day crowds, you have peace of mind knowing that your ballot is not somewhere in the mail system, and your vote is accounted for in the Election Night returns.
If you must get your ballot by mail and you need to request it, REQUEST YOUR BALLOT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. In some states it might be sent to you automatically. But in others you might have to fill out a form to request it.
If that is the case do NOT wait to request it.
If you wait too long to request it, it might not be delivered to you in time for you to mail it back and have it be counted.
If your ballot is mailed to you and you are able to do so, PERSONALLY DROP OFF THE COMPLETED BALLOT at your local Board of Elections, polling place, ballot dropbox, or whatever other option is available in your state/area.
Note that if you are dropping it off at a Board of Elections or polling place, it’s best to drop off your own ballot. Don’t have someone else do it for you. Some states might require that you do so personally, and you will have the peace of mind knowing that your ballot was safely delivered.
BONUS: Dropping off your completed ballot takes some of the strain off of the USPS and keeps unnecessary mail out of the system.
If you must mail your ballot back, COMPLETE THE BALLOT THE DAY YOU RECEIVE IT AND MAIL IT BACK IMMEDIATELY.
This is vital if you are mailing your completed ballot.
Do NOT wait until the last minute.
Do NOT let it sit on the kitchen counter.
Do NOT let it get buried in junk mail.
Mail that ballot out ASAP.
If you must vote on Election Day, do it FIRST THING IN THE MORNING.
Afraid of crowds due to Covid? Wait until mid-morning when there are fewer people.
But do NOT wait until evening when lines will be long and the risk of being disenfranchised will be greater.
However you vote – but especially if you’re voting mail-in/absentee – ALWAYS FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS AND FILL OUT THE BALLOT CAREFULLY.
In particular, be mindful of any signature requirements.
In the New York State Primary this year, numerous ballots were disqualified because people forgot to affix a signature to one of the envelopes.
Once again, every state is different, but it serves as an example of what can go wrong if the directions aren’t followed.
Mailing your ballot?
If the service is allowed, be sure to check the tracking of your ballot on your Board of Election site to verify that it’s been received.
And if you do track it and see that it’s not received by Election Day?
Go to the polls, explain the situation, and ask for a provisional ballot.
I hope this information helps. We are trying to stay safe in a pandemic while a tyrant is attempting to steal an election. It is one obstacle after another. But together, with the right information and the right strategy, we can overcome those obstacles and win.
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