As you begin to make your plans for the upcoming election next fall (and in any primary elections before that), it’s important to know your options. After all, you have choices when it comes to how you cast a vote. In some states, you can vote early. In some states, you must show up in person on Election Day to your specifically assigned polling location. In some states, you’re allowed to vote absentee. Like we said, you have your choices. The only option that is not a valid choice is to NOT vote at all.
According to the Pew Research Center, tens of millions of registered voters and eligible citizens did not vote in the 2016 Presidential Election. And when asked why they did not cast a vote, a record 25 percent of voters cited a “dislike of the candidates or campaign issues” — a new high based on analysis of new Census Bureau data. But equally interesting is that the other tops reasons for not voting included “being too busy or having a conflicting schedule” (14%), “having an illness or disability” (12%) and “being out of town or away from home” (8%). It’s a real shame, because those three reasons, which make up about 34 percent of voters who did not participate in the election, could have all been addressed by early or absentee voting.
Let’s assume you will not be able to vote in person come Election Day. For whatever reason, your life and schedule will not allow you to be there on November 3rd, 2020. Maybe you’ll be traveling, have a disability or will be observing a religious holiday. Perhaps you’ll be in an all-day work commitment, or you are a college student who will not be in the state where you are registered to vote on Election Day. If you will not be able to vote in person, but you still want to vote, then early voting and absentee voting have your name all over it.
Early voting means casting your ballot in person, but early, at a designated polling location that is accepting votes during a specific period prior to Election Day.
Absentee voting is voting that does not happen in person on Election Day but occurs another way — usually by mail — so that even if you can’t be there, your ballot is still cast and your vote still counts.
All states allow for some form of absentee balloting, though they vary by state. While some states will require voters to provide a valid excuse why they must vote absentee as opposed to in-person, others allow any eligible voter to cast an absentee ballot. In general, most states have a method for eligible voters to cast a ballot before Election Day, whether in person during the early voting period, or via absentee ballot.
To find out if your state offers early voting, click here.
To find out the regulations and requirements for absentee voting in your state, click here. To request an absentee ballot, click here. It takes about 2 minutes of your time and will help ensure that your voice is heard come Election Day 2020.