Why is voting important?
As a voter, you will help decide who leads us. By voting, you are choosing representatives and legislation that will affect you and your family for years to come. Every time you exercise your right to vote, our democracy grows stronger. Most American citizens 18 and older are eligible to vote, but check with your state directly if you believe you may be ineligible. Green card holders and people with K-1 visas cannot vote.
How do I vote?
This information was updated as of 08/18/2020. For more up to date information closer to the election, visit the Secretary of State’s election website for your state.
1. Register to Vote
To vote, you first need to register with the state in which you live. Registering simply lets your state know that you’re interested in voting in the upcoming election cycle. You will need to re-register if you’ve moved recently, changed your name, or haven’t voted in the last 4 years. Some states allow you to register online, and all states allow you to register in person or by mail.
2. Apply for a mail-in/absentee ballot OR know your polling site if voting in person
After you’ve registered, your state will proceed in one of a few different ways. Traditionally, many Americans have voted in person on Election Day and the week(s) leading up to it. Due to COVID-19 this year, many states are allowing voters to vote by mail from the safety of their homes.
If you live in Washington, California, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, DC, Vermont, Colorado or Hawaii, your state will automatically mail you a ballot before the election without you having to ask for one. You can fill this out at home in privacy and either 1. Mail it back to the address they provide you or 2. Drop it off in a ballot drop box across your state.
If you live in any other state, you will need to request an absentee ballot if you do not want to vote in person. 34 states are allowing voters to cite COVID-19 as a reason for an absentee ballot, but in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, South Carolina and New York, you will need to cite another reason. This may include having a disability, caring for a loved one, being out of the state at the time of the election, and more.
Is voting by mail safe?
Despite some critics, studies have continuously proven that voting by mail is very safe and the chance of voter fraud is quite low. (https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/10.1146/annurev.polisci.11.053006.190912
3. Know your early voting dates
Everyone also has the right to partake in early voting. Early voting exists to allow people more time to vote than on one Election Day. Some people will not be able to take off from work, leave a loved one unattended, or they may be out of town on Election Day. Luckily, most states allow people to vote by mail and in person one or two weeks before the actual Election Day. Voting early (by mail or in person) can help you avoid long lines at polling sites, and it counts just as much as a vote on Election Day.
Dates differ by state, but you can find your state’s early voting start and end dates here.
4. Educate yourself about the candidates and their political stances
Educating yourself about candidates and their viewpoints is the most important part of the voting process. Learn about the candidates and their stances by visiting candidate websites, searching for specific issues you care about, or utilizing sites that conduct side by side comparisons.
November 3, 2020 is the General Election, so make plans to send in your ballot by mail before this date, or visit your assigned polling site by or on this day.
Language Access at the Polls
Many polling sites in counties across America are required to provide in-language materials based on population demographics. Find these counties and the languages they provide here