Let’s get you ready to cast your ballot by creating a voting plan.
First things first: have you confirmed your voter registration yet? You must be registered to vote by mail or in person.
everyone registered to vote? Let’s talk about your options.
See our simple guide to voting here.
Every county has at least a couple of options for casting a ballot: a combination of in-person voting on Election Day and an extended window for early voting, for example. or maybe there is expanded access to voting by mail and voting sites where you can cast your ballot in person. those options will be handled differently depending on where you live due to our fragmented voting system, which has over 10,000 jurisdictions that run elections in different ways.
The good news is that the more options offered, the more likely you are to find the right one for your needs. here, we will discuss the voting options in broad strokes.
vote early in person or on election day
Although many states have expanded the ability to vote by mail, many people prefer to get the job done in person. Voters who have difficulty speaking or reading English may need an interpreter to help them with their ballot. Many people are wary of voting other than through an in-person system that allows them to see their vote being physically cast. some states make it difficult to vote another way.
There is an ongoing national campaign to recruit people to staff polling places during early voting and on Election Day, and you can find information on how to volunteer here.
Most states (46 total) offer some form of early voting. Your election administrator’s website has more details on local rules and how many early voting days you have (if offered). but if you can cast your ballot early in your state and are confident in your elections, consider voting as soon as possible.
Here’s one reason: If you go to your polling place and there’s a long line, you can try to come back the next day of early voting. but if you postpone it until nov. 8, then you will have no choice but to wait. that can help ease the Election Day crush for other voters and poll workers.
how to vote in person
Prefer to fill out your ballot in person at your polling place? Follow these steps to make a plan to vote in person.
1. locate your polling place. it may not be where you voted last time. For some of you, your polling place won’t be resolved until a couple of weeks before Election Day. check the status of the place where you’re supposed to vote (and remember to check back closer to voting time) on your county elections official’s website or look it up here.
2. decide whether to go early or on Election Day. Research early voting options on your election administrator’s website.
3. find out if you need ID. If this is your first time voting, you must show ID at the polls. and in some states, all voters must present identification. but what you’ll need to bring varies by state. sometimes drastically. You can check your state’s ID requirements here.
- Strict Photo ID ID: Some states require voters to show a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or identification card from the usa uu. Passport.
- Strict Non-Photo ID: In some states, a non-photo ID with your name and address is required, such as a utility bill or bank statement.
- Non-Strict Voter ID: Some states require either of these forms of ID, but ID is not required to vote. In this category, you can still vote through alternative options, such as signing an affidavit of identity, having election officials vouch for your identity, or voting a provisional ballot that is double-verified by local election officials. (But, like everything on November 8, your options come down to the state you vote in.)
- No paperwork is required to vote: Finally, in some states, you do not need to show any identification, unless this is your first time voting.
Once you know where and when you’ll be voting in person, make sure you have plenty of time to travel to your polling location and possibly wait in line if it’s busy.
voting by mail
Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia currently allow anyone to vote absentee, meaning vote by mail. in most of those places you have to request an absentee ballot, although several send an application to each registered voter.
Fifteen states require an excuse to vote by mail. In most of these states, you can still request an absentee ballot if you will be out of your county on Election Day, are ill or have a physical disability that makes it difficult for you to get to the polls, are on active duty in him to us. military or working a mandatory shift that coincides with voting hours.
Check your elections administrator‘s website for details on how to obtain your ballot. If you live in a state where you have to request an absentee ballot, do so now. election offices are packed in the weeks leading up to election day. And the sooner you request and receive your ballot, the sooner you can return it.
Voting by mail has been shown to be safe and effective.
In all states, voting by mail carries a deadline to return the ballot. As with virtually every other part of the voting process, the deadline to vote absentee varies by state, but the ee. uu. The Postal Service recommends that voters mail their ballot at least one week before each state’s required due date to allow for disruptions such as severe weather and other unforeseen circumstances. the sooner you send it, the safer it is.
If you want to avoid the mail, some states have drop boxes, a safe and proven way to return your ballot. others allow you to drop off your absentee ballot at the county elections office or at your polling place. To check your delivery alternatives (if applicable), contact your local elections office.
We have all heard time and time again false claims of fraudulent mail-in ballots, stuffed ballot boxes, and other outlandish claims intended to undermine our confidence in election results. but cases of fraudulent voting are exceptionally rare.
how to vote by mail
1. check the deadlines for requesting and submitting a ballot. check your election administrator’s website for more details.
2. Find drop box locations that might work for you. Contact your local elections office for your absentee ballot delivery options.
3. ask for the ticket! why wait? The sooner you have your ballot, the sooner you can complete and return it so your vote is counted on time.
4. Please complete your ballot. Be sure to follow all instructions for marking your vote and sealing the envelope.
5. mail your ballot by the deadline. try to mail your ballot at least one week before election day. or see if your state has ballot drop boxes so you don’t have to worry about postmarking on time.
get help voting or help others
The right to vote is protected for those who cannot read, and the Voting Rights Act entitles people struggling with literacy to get help casting their ballot. this is also true for non-English speakers and people with intellectual disabilities.
Our reporters recently delved into this in a startling investigation titled “Fighting a Long-standing Effort to Stop Americans from Voting.” this is what they found:
“Despite all the recent hoopla over voting rights, little attention has been paid to one of America’s most sustained and brazen crackdowns: the effort to block aid at the ballot box for people who struggle to read: a group that equates to about 48 million Americans, or more than a fifth of the adult population. propublica analyzed voter turnout in 3,000 counties and found that those with lower estimated literacy rates, on average, had lower turnout.”
but you can help. Read our report on making voting easier and share our simple guide to voting.