1. You should know that primary elections have been altered and many details have changed.
Many primaries have been postponed, such as those in Louisiana and Connecticut.
Check this calendar to make sure you know when your primary is, if it has not yet happened.
Many in person polling places have been closed due to safety and lack of poll worker. In Milwaukee, 180 polling places were cut down to 5.
There is an increased emphasis on mail in voting, and many states have altered their laws to allow more lenient mail-in voting requirements. Check here for your state's current rules.
2. You should know how states are responding in preparation for the general election.
States such as California have moved to mail all registered voters ballots for the general election, while states such as Michigan have mailed all registered voters vote-by-mail applications. Most are expanding vote-by-mail availability, however this also means there will be less in-person polling places available.
You can check here to see how your state has responded to the primary, and any further statements they have made about their plans for the general election. You can also register to vote on this page.
3. You should be prepared to vote in the general election.
You should first and foremost register to vote. If desired, you should register to vote-by-mail, or fill out a vote by mail application if you are already registered to vote.
4. You can also volunteer to be a poll worker!
Many states need young people this year to work as poll workers due to the absence of many older people who feel unsafe working during COVID-19.
Technically, yes, but it is very unlikely. The U.S. has never postponed a presidential election. According to the Constitution, the incumbent President’s term ends on January 20 and so the election must take place before then. It is almost certain that Election Day will be on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
Congress also passed the Presidential Election Day Act in 1845 which set the date for the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The only way the date can be changed is therefore through an act of Congress.
Yes. Many states are adopting policies that allow citizens to vote by mail, but there will still be in-person voting, mainly targeted for those with disabilities or those who need assistance with a language other than English. Visit your Secretary of State’s website to see what your state is doing. Find that website here.
All states allow at least some of their citizens to vote by mail. This allows voters to cast a ballot in a location other than a polling place. According to the director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab, voter-fraud occurred in 0.0006 percent of total votes over the past twenty years, meaning that virtually no voter fraud is committed through vote-by-mail.
If you feel at all unsafe, you should consider voting by mail. States are loosening requirements to request an absentee ballot and it will be the safest option for voting this November. Read more here.
Some states have changed their policies regarding voting by mail. California, for example, will be sending mail-in ballots to all of their registered voters.
In order to facilitate the voting process, many states have also allowed for absentee voting to be requested online. Find out here to see what policies your state has adopted for the 2020 general election regarding absentee ballots and other laws.
Below are a few resources to help you get better prepared to vote:
Check out this website for the most updated information on your states laws and how to register to vote in your state.
The CDC has released guidelines for states, poll workers, and voters regarding best practices to keep everyone as safe as possible.
The New York Times released an article discussing how voter registration this year is already low and impacted by COVID-19.
1. Check the registration deadline in your state and register to vote!
Voter registration deadlines are different in every state. Click here to see how and when you need to register in your state.
TurboVote is an online tool that can help you register to vote, apply for an absentee ballot, and sign-up for election reminders. Click here to sign up!
2. Figure out how you want to vote!
Different states allow you to vote in a variety of ways, with options about how and when you cast your ballot. Some of your options might include:
This is what most people think of when they picture voting. It involves showing up to a polling place on Election Day and casting a ballot in a voting booth.
If you plan to be out of your county on Election Day you should apply for an absentee ballot. Some states allow anyone to vote absentee without an excuse, while others states require a specific reason. If you live in Washington, Oregon, or Colorado, all of your voting is done by mail. Learn more about the absentee voting rules in your state here.
If you want to avoid the long lines on Election Day or don’t get time off from work to vote, Early Voting may be the best option for you. Early Voting allows voters to cast their ballot before Election Day and is offered in 35 states and D.C. Learn about your state's early voting laws here.
Your vote is your voice, and it shouldn't be wasted. Take EVC's Pledge to Vote and commit to voting in the next election and all future elections. We'll send you periodic reminders and connect you to resources that can help you make it to the polls.
If you are going to be gone on Election Day, vote absentee. If you will be in your county on Election Day, the choice between voting absentee and voting in person is up to you. Do what makes the most sense for your time and schedule.
This decision is a personal one. It’s usually easy for students to register in their college’s state, but some states may request proof of residency or have other requirements. Make sure to check relevant registration rules and Voter ID laws. If you decide to register in your home state, make sure you have applied for an absentee ballot. You might consider looking into the issues and candidates on both ballots before determining which ballot affects you more or matters the most to you. This student voting guide may help you make a decision.
When you move, you need to update your voter address. The steps vary from state to state. You can find more information here.
If you have recently moved to a new state, you will need to re-register. Many states require that you have lived there for at least 30 days. Make sure to check out your new state’s Voter ID requirements.
If you will be 18 on or before Election Day, you can register to vote in every state. Some states even allow you to vote in primary elections while 17, if you will be 18 by the time of the next general election. You can check your state’s age requirements here.
Learn how to vote by absentee ballot from outside the U.S. here.
Voter guides are available in 11 languages here.
1. Familiarize yourself with the candidates, ballot initiatives, and other measures that will be on your ballot.
Ballots can be overwhelming. From candidates at different levels of government that you may have never heard of, to ballot initiatives addressing issues you're unfamiliar with, it can be a challenge to feel informed about every aspect of the ballot and feel confident casting your vote.
We've gathered some resources that can help make that process easier...
BallotReady is an online tool that gathers information on every race and ballot initiative in every state. You can check biographical information and endorsements, make your decisions, and save your personalized ballot so you can bring it to the polls with you.
BallotPedia provides online sample ballots and tracks every issue and candidate that will be on the ballot.
ActiVote provides easy access to your elections and what candidates really stand for, while filtering out all the noise
"Official" voter guides and information materials are those created by state offices like the Board of Elections or Secretary of State. If you're voting absentee or in a state with all mail elections, you may receive a ballot information guide with your ballot, and other voters can find the information online or ask their local election official for a guide.
You can also conduct your own research. Candidate websites often contain a wealth of information, local newspapers and websites usually explain their decisions to endorse a candidate or initiative, and the internet has made it easier than ever to keep track of what's going on. From incumbent's voting records to debate footage, you have access to a wide range of media sources and information on candidates. Just be sure to try and get a well-rounded perspective.
2. If you're planning to vote absentee or early in person, be sure to check the deadlines for your state and set aside some time to fill out the ballot or head to the polls.
If your haven't already applied for your absentee ballot, make sure to do so before the deadline. If you've already got your ballot, be sure to check the deadlines for when you must drop it off or mail it in.
If you're planning to vote early, make sure to check the days it is available and deadline by which you must cast your early vote. You can check the availability of early voting and the deadlines for casting an early ballot in your state here.
3. Encourage your friends and family to register, get informed, and vote!
Voting is one of our most basic rights, and exercising that right should be the norm. Make it clear to others that you'll be voting, and they should too.
Check out a couple of ways you can do just that...
#VoteTogether is national campaign to increase voter participation by making voting fun and celebratory. Considering hosting your own celebration, or check and see if there's one being thrown in your neighborhood.
There are many resources to help guide your vote. A few minutes of research will help you decide how you want to vote in each race or on each issue, and tools like BallotReady make it easy to access and utilize that information.
However, if you really are pressed for time, you always have the option to not vote in any race or for in any specific race or ballot measure if you feel unprepared to cast an informed vote on that specific issue.
Voting is a right, but it is also a privilege. Every citizen’s vote is needed for a functioning democracy. Choosing not to vote is voting against yourself and your interests. It's easy to focus on the two major candidates, but there are other important issues on the ballot, both in national and local elections, that have a big impact on your life, so make sure to make your voice heard on those issues.
Click here to learn more.
If you'll be voting in person on election day, make sure you can answer these questions!
The Voting Information Project can help you find your official polling place, its hours of operation, and more. There are also tools from Vote.org, Rock the Vote, and others that can help you locate your polling place.
Polling place hours vary by state, and even county or city, but most polls are open from 8am to 6pm. Check online or with you local election officials to find the exact hours for your polling place, and find a time that fits with your schedule. Be sure to plan ahead, though, and think about factors like work or your commute.
Some states require you to bring an identification card and/or proof of residence in order to cast a ballot. You can check your state's requirements here.
There are a variety of transportation options when it comes to getting to the polls: Some cities offer free or reduced fares on public transportation for election day, ride share companies like Uber and Lyft have offered discounted or free rides to the polls in the past, and you can always carpool with friends, family, or coworkers. If you're a voter with limited mobility, you can visit this site to find volunteer transportation services.
You can help others get to the polls! Find a few friends, co-workers, or family members, and head to the polls together.
If you're planning to vote early in-person or absentee, be sure to mail in your ballot or head to an early polling place before the deadline.
If there's an emergency and you know you'll now be unable to make it to the polls on election day, you may be able to vote using an emergency absentee ballot. Check your state's rules here.
Straight party or straight ticket voting is the practice of making one mark on the ballot to vote for every candidate of a specific political party down the ballot. You can learn more about it here.
No! Although it’s best to express your opinion for as many things as possible, ballots are still counted if they’re incomplete.
35 states require some form of identification when you go to the polls, while the other 15 use a different verification method. The most strict states require a government-issued photo ID, so bringing your driver’s license will always work if you have one. If you have a “reasonable impediment” that keeps you from having an ID, you should still be able to vote. You can check out the laws specific to your state, here.
It is illegal to turn away voters who have been waiting in line. If closing time has passed, but you have been waiting in line, do not leave—you still have the right to vote. If anyone tries to turn you away, call 866-OUR-VOTE. Consider informing those around you that they are still legally allowed to vote.
Make sure to vote at the polling place corresponding to your precinct. Some jurisdictions have “voting centers” that allow any voter in that jurisdiction to vote there, regardless of address, but don’t rely on this being the case.
Make your voice heard!
Once you've voted, celebrate! Post a selfie with your I voted sticker or head to a #Vote Together party!
Same Day Registration, Potential Problems, and Troubleshooting
If you forgot to register, many states allow voters to register and vote on the same day. See if your state allows for same day registration, here.
Voter discrimination, coercion, and intimidation are prohibited by federal law. If you're unsure of your rights, you can learn more here.
If you are unable to vote on Election Day due to an administrative difficulty, ask to cast a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots are often used when a voter’s eligibility is in question, and election officials will investigate the provisional ballot and determine whether the ballot is counted. For more information about provision ballots, click here.
If you experience broken machines, long lines, or other problems on Election Day, you can report it to Electionland, a nonprofit that monitors and investigates reports of problems casting ballots and irregularities at the polls. You can text the word “VOTE” to 81380, tag or direct message them on social media, and contact Electionland a number of other ways.
In some states, you can still mail your ballot on Election Day. Check your state’s rules here.
Some states also allow you to hand deliver your absentee ballot to a polling place or other designated location. Contact your state or local election official for more information.
Ask to cast a provisional ballot. You can learn more about provisional ballots here.
Call (866) OUR-VOTE