I am not assuming that the USPS will be fixed by the election, which means that many of us may need to make a new plan for submitting a ballot on Election Day. After you’ve called your reps about the USPS, read on for ideas on how to plan to vote, and how to advocate for a better electoral process for everyone.
Register and/or Check Your Registration
- Check your voter registration status.
- If you’re not registered to vote, you can register to vote here.
Make a Plan to Vote
- If you’re planning to vote in person, you can double-check the location of your polling place. Think about how long you’re willing to wait in line that day, and be prepared to wait that long. Bring snacks! Consider bringing extra masks for the people around you in line.
- If you want to vote early or absentee, click here to find out what the options are for voting early or absentee in your state.
- If you are voting early, find out when and where you vote early. Block off several different windows on your calendar for doing this, especially if you are worried about long waits inside.
- If you are voting absentee, do not rely on USPS to submit your ballot. Every state has different options for returning an absentee ballot — see if there are drop boxes for ballots at city hall, a county administrative office, and/or a local library. Once you find your best location, block off some time on your calendar for dropping off your ballot.
- Some states and counties let you drop off your absentee ballot at a polling place on election day. Double-check that this is an option before election day, and block off some time on your calendar on election day for this.
- If your state only accepts absentee ballots via mail, drop it off at the post office instead of relying on your mail carrier to pick it up. Regardless of the stated deadlines, try to drop it off at least three weeks before the election.
- Remember that every state is different; this site includes some (but not all!) of the different state laws around early and absentee voting. Double- and triple-check your state laws around returning your ballot.
Make Voting Better for Everyone
Generally, each state has its own laws around elections, and counties implement those laws and run the elections. And the county Board of Elections or Registrar of Voters is accountable to us. Some ways we can make elections better for all of us include:
- Think back to the most recent election you voted in. Were the lines at your precinct long? Did they run out of ballots or pens? Were the machines broken? Did your absentee ballot arrive late? Contact your county election officials and let them know, and ask them what they are doing about this. Contact other local officials (county supervisor/commissioner, etc.) as well.
- Are any election officials up for election this cycle? Ask all candidates specifically about election day procedures. If there’s not a (virtual) debate planned, reach out to your local League of Women Voters about organizing one.
- Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. That will give you a larger audience than any of your social media posts.
- If you live in a state that has limited voting (by limiting early voting, access to absentee ballots, closing polling places, etc.), contact your state legislators and secretary of state about this. If any of them are up for reelection this cycle, make this an issue in the campaign.
Be Prepared for a Slow Tally of Results
It took Alameda County three weeks to tally the results from the March 3 primary. While some races were “called” early on, many close school measures came down to the wire.
Absentee ballots need to be both validated and counted. While many states allow the validation process to start before Election Day, most states do not start counting ballots until the polls close.
Our media is not ready to not have an answer by 8 p.m. ET on Election Day. They are not ready for weeks of counting and recounting ballots, and they are susceptible to arguments that counting absentee ballots is somehow fraudulent. They operate with a framework that only ballots counted on Election Day actually “count”, and that the counting of absentee ballots is a mere formality. It is up to us to reframe discussions about when we will have final results. It is up to us to ensure that every absentee ballot arrives and is counted.