The 2020 United States presidential election is scheduled for Tuesday, November 3, 2020. With fewer than 90 days until the election, we wanted to share a 2020 election guide with voter resources to help with everyone voting during this global pandemic. The turnout for this election was predicted to be huge before we were faced with Covid-19. Historically, general elections always have a higher turnout than midterm elections and the 2018 midterm elections were the highest turnout in 40 years.
2020 Election Guide & Voter Resources
Most states are changing election rules to allow universal absentee ballot voting due to the risk of contracting Covid-19. A rising issue has been the new Trump appointed postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, a major Republican donor without prior USPS experience. Many people will be relying on the USPS to send their ballots, it’s not the only option, but for many, it may be the most convenient. The latest update is that he is suspending recent changes at the agency until after the election but he would not reverse the decision to remove mail equipment ahead of the election. DeJoy repeatedly stressed the USPS had the capacity and would prioritize delivering election mail this fall. Many states require ballots to be received by election day in order to count, regardless of when they are put in the mail. Because of concerns in mail delays, election officials are encouraging voters to request mail-in ballots as soon as possible.
Please note: The USPS has warned that it may not be able to meet the delivery deadlines of last-minute ballots, so it’s very important to turn them in as soon as possible. USPS is the only way to receive an absentee or mail-in ballot in most states. However, there are many ways to vote by mail that do not involve returning your ballots through USPS.
“Remote voting” and what that means
Absentee voting allows you to vote by mail. Though every state has absentee voting, rules on who can take part vary. If you’re in the U.S., you must be registered to vote before your state will send you an absentee ballot. Overseas voters and military members have other options.
Here are the deadlines for absentee ballot applications and returning them to be counted. However, some states anticipate 10x the normal volume of election mail, so the earlier the better. Thomas J. Marshall, the general counsel for the Postal Service, urged those with tight schedules require that residents request ballots at least 15 days before an election, rather than the shorter periods currently allowed under the laws of many states.
How to exercise your right to vote during a global pandemic:
Request a ballot if one is not sent to you.
Absentee voting is the best way to stay safe and avoid the risk of contracting Covid-19. Some states are sending absentee ballots automatically to your registered address and in some states, you have to request them.
Double-check for mistakes.
Election experts said first-time absentee voters are much more likely to make the kinds of mistakes that lead to rejected ballots. Studies also show that voters of color and young voters are more likely than others to have their ballots not count.
Most absentee or mail-in ballots are rejected because required signatures are missing or don’t match the one on record, or because the ballot arrives too late. Watch out for mistakes like incorrectly choosing too many candidates or incorrectly circling a candidate’s name instead of filling in the bubble next to it.
Return your ballot to be counted.
Along with sending your ballot by USPS, some states allow you to return your ballots at drop boxes, local election offices, or polling locations. Drop boxes are special containers for voters to drop off absentee ballots in sealed envelopes. Eleven states have ballot drop boxes set up in some or all counties. Almost all states allow voters to deliver their ballots in person at their local election office. To find a list of local election offices, you can search your state Board of Elections website or Secretary of State website. Eleven states and Washington D.C. allow voters to drop off ballots at any in-person voting locations in the county. Two states allow voters to return their ballots to a polling place. Voters must return their ballot to their assigned precinct polling place on Election Day. If you’re not able to physically send your ballot, twenty-six states and the District of Columbia allow someone else to return ballots on behalf of voters. Ten states permit an absentee ballot to be returned by the voter’s family member.
In-person early voting is an option for voters who have run out of time to send the ballot by mail and have it reach the election official by the deadline, states that don’t allow universal absentee voting, and for people who prefer to vote in person.
At least three-quarters of all American voters will be eligible to receive a ballot in the mail for the 2020 election — the most in U.S. history, according to a New York Times analysis. However, for voters in six states, in-person voting remains the only option unless they can provide an approved reason not related to fear of the coronavirus. Traditional absentee excuses include military deployments or illness.
2020 Election Guide & Voter Resources + How you can help
Suffrage Over Silence is a great guide on how to vote state by state. America is facing a record shortage of poll workers. Power the Polls is a first-of-its-kind initiative to recruit poll workers to ensure a safe, fair election for all voters. There are 250k poll workers still needed and less than 40 days to train them. You can volunteer to help here.
As many prepare for one of the biggest elections during a global pandemic, many are still out using their bodies to protest against injustice. Here is a list of anti-racist and Black Lives Matter movement resources as well as mental health organizations curated by ATPB.