Find out how to register to vote and request an absentee ballot in the 2020 election
As COVID-19 threatens to disrupt the upcoming presidential election in November by potentially making it harder, and maybe even impossible, to vote in person, it’s more important than ever to ensure that you are ready to vote in any upcoming primary and certainly at the presidential election on November 3, 2020.
How To Register To Vote
The easiest way to register to vote is to visit Vote.org. Once there, find the state where you reside on the drop-down menu. If you live in one of the 39 states that offer online registration, the drop-down will take you to your state’s online registration portal. If you aren’t sure if your state offers online registration, continue to use Vote.org’s state drop-down menu and select your state. If no online registration is available, it will direct you to print out a PDF of the National Voter Registration Form, which will include the mailing address to send it to that is specific to your state. Once you’ve done either of those things, that’s it, you’re registered.
How To Request An Absentee Ballot
Absentee voting (sometimes also called “mail-in voting” and “by-mail voting”) allows you to vote by mail. Each state sets its own process for absentee voting and in some states, there are restrictions on who can vote by absentee ballot. Other states will automatically mail everyone a physical ballot ahead of any election which you can fill out and return. Until a blanket vote-by-mail law is passed for the entire country, requesting an absentee ballot is the next best option to ensure you can vote if you can’t physically make it to the voting booth.
If you are unsure what the laws are around absentee voting in your state, the easiest way to get an absentee ballot is to head to Vote.org. There you can enter your contact and location information and will be directed to the correct forms or information you may need. However, if you do this, you will occasionally receive emails and texts from Vote.org.
If you don’t want to receive any spam, the next best option is to head to USA.gov and search for your state in the drop-down menu.
You will then be taken to your state’s specific voting website, where you will need to search the site for an option that says “Absentee Voting” or “Voting By Mail.” This is tricky because each state’s website is different, so if you don’t see either term, try using the site’s search tool.
How To Find Your Polling Place
Once you’ve registered to vote, the next step is to find out where you’re supposed to cast your ballot. Head to Vote.org’s Polling Place Locator and scroll to find your state.
You will then be redirected to your state’s specific polling place locator, where you will typically be asked to input your address or search for your county on a map. Polling place location information is typically only made available a few weeks before each election.
How To Get Involved
If you’ve registered to vote and/or secured that absentee ballot, maybe it’s time to get involved. With social distancing in place, joining a presidential campaign or volunteering with a grassroots political org might look a little different. However, there are still many ways to get involved in the upcoming election.
Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee and there are many ways to get involved with his campaign. The easiest one is donating money to his campaign. You can also text and make phone calls from the comfort of your home on behalf of Biden, where you will be contacting registered voters ahead of the presidential election. Assuming social distancing guidelines relax before November, you can also sign up to host a grassroots event or fundraiser for Joe in your neighborhood.
Swing Left is a progressive organization with a goal to “Beat Trump and the GOP” in the White House and the Senate “by engaging voters and fundraising for campaigns in the Super States, where the key fights of 2020 will be won or lost.” You can sign up here to phone-bank ahead of the Georgia primaries or even hand-write letters to registered voters in the Super States.
You can also sign up to work at a polling place at an upcoming election. To learn more about what is involved and how to sign up, visit the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s website.