Check out this helpful guide from NBC News on the rules around voting by mail, early, and on Election Day in all 50 states. It also links to the state elections division if you have additional questions. If you live in a battleground state, you can also view the MoveOn battleground voting guide here. You can always call the voter protection hotline at 1-866-Our-Vote with any additional questions.
Every state has its own deadlines and rules regarding registering to vote and voting by mail or during early voting. We recommend registering and voting as early as possible, to ensure you have enough time to complete the voting process. If you choose to vote by mail, MoveOn recommends requesting your ballot by October 12, and if you have not returned it by October 20, you should do so in person to ensure it is received in time to be counted or vote in person. Don’t forget to look at all the instructions to ensure you sign and seal the envelopes properly. To look up your state-specific deadlines, check out the NBC voting guide here.
Many states are taking precautions to protect voters during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can choose to request a ballot now, to have the flexibility to vote from home. If you vote in person, we recommend that you wear a mask, bring hand sanitizer/wash your hands when you get home, and stay distant at the polling place by keeping 6 feet between people in line. Also be prepared to stay in line in case there is a line: Bring a chair, sunscreen, water, entertainment, whatever you need to ensure you are able to vote this year.
Most poll workers in the U.S. are over 60, which puts them at high risk for COVID-19, so many who have been serving for years won’t be able to this year. Primary elections this year already showed that decades of voter suppression tactics are colliding with the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in hundreds of polling locations closed across the country and hours long lines to vote. Now, the shortage of poll workers presents a new risk for exacerbated problems with voting come November 3. If you want to be a poll worker, please visit powerthepolls.com
Please tell the voter protection hotline right away, either online at https://866ourvote.org/ or by phone by dialing 866-OUR-VOTE.
The most common mistakes with mail-in ballots are returning it late and forgetting to sign the ballot. We recommend that after October 20 you deliver your ballot in person, wherever available in your state, to ensure it is received in time. Don’t forget to look at all of the instructions to ensure you sign in the right place and seal the envelope as directed.
Yes, some states have online tracking for ballots. To see if your state does and where to track it online, look at the Common Cause guide here.
Fill out the form here to see if you are registered to vote. This could be a multistep process if we can’t confirm your registration. Click through to your state’s site to double-check.
Voting by mail means that instead of going to the polls, voters get a ballot mailed to them. Voters fill it out and either mail it back to local election officials or drop it off at a designated site like a drop box or polling place by a specified date.
In some states, voting by mail is called absentee voting, early voting, or voting from home. Different states have different rules and processes for voting by mail. Some automatically send all registered voters mail-in ballots, some send mail-in ballots to all voters who request one, and some require an “excuse” for receiving a mail-in ballot.
Because of COVID-19, some states are removing previous barriers to voting by mail—like requiring an excuse—or adding COVID-19 as a qualifying excuse to vote by mail this year.
Voting by mail is a secure and established part of our electoral system. In the last two federal elections, nearly 1 in every 4 voters cast a mail-in ballot.
Voting by mail has long been supported by election officials, politicians, and voters across the political spectrum.
In all states, there are safeguards in place to assure that voting by mail is conducted fairly and securely. More than 250 million votes have been safely and accurately cast by mail-in ballots since 2000.
In five states—Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington—voting by mail is the primary method of voting, and all registered voters receive a mail-in ballot. Due to COVID-19, certain additional states are opting to send all registered voters a mail-in ballot for November, while others are opting to send all registered voters an application for a mail-in ballot.
Voting by mail is as safe as conducting other important activities by mail, like paying bills, filing taxes, or sending credit cards and prescription drugs.
All states will still have in-person polling sites for those who cannot or do not want to vote by mail. Polling sites are also places where voters can go to correct unexpected problems with their mail-in ballot (depending on the state).
MoveOn often uses information from third-parties to inform its outreach to voters. Specific voting information included on messages linking to or from this website may not have been specifically vetted by MoveOn. Please verify any information used with sources that you trust.