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How to Vote This Fall (We’ve Got You Covered)

How to Vote This Fall

I’m just gonna come right out and ask…do you know how to vote this year? If you (like me!) are more than a little confused, you’re not alone. So, we compiled a HUGE list of common questions and brought them to Andrea Hailey, the CEO of Vote.org (one of the largest voting-rights advocacy groups in the U.S.) to help us put together an FAQ on voting in 2020…

In a nutshell, yes, things are a lot more complicated this time. But that doesn’t change your constitutional right to vote. And while voting is always important, it really is more important than ever this year. “This is not a fire drill,” Hailey stresses. “We say every election year is important — this really is the real thing.”

Roger that! Let’s DO THIS. But first, let’s figure out how.

Is it too late to register to vote? How do I know if I’m registered?
No, it’s not too late! As of today, September 9th, you still have time — but not a lot. Many state deadlines are only a few weeks away, so if you need to register, do it today. The good news is that you have options: Depending on where you live, you may be able to register online or in-person, as well as by mail. Some states also have same-day registration, but the requirements vary. Here’s a list of registration deadlines and requirements. To be safe, always double check your own local election official’s office or website for any recent changes. This link will direct you to it.

You can check your registration here, or on your local Secretary of State’s website. If you are a U.S. citizen abroad, or in the military, you can find your information via Overseas Vote Foundation.

I just moved to a new state. Do I vote in my new state or old one?
You vote wherever your residency is. So, if you’ve just moved and want to vote there, then register as a resident of your new state ASAP. If you move after the registration deadline, you should still be able to vote in your new state provided you have adequate proof of residency. It all depends on the state’s voter ID laws, which you can check here.

What about college students who are going to out-of-state schools?
It’s pretty much the same rules as above, in that it just depends on where their residency is. If you’re going to school in New York (like, in person — not virtually), but you’re a resident of Indiana, then you can either request an absentee ballot from Indiana or change your residency to New York and vote there. FYI, a lot of schools have prepared for this and should be able to provide you with all the info you need. Many are proactively reaching out to students with the necessary info, but it couldn’t hurt to call ahead if you haven’t moved in yet!

Is there going to be in-person voting this year? If so, where do I do it?
Yes, there will be in-person voting this year. As with any other year, be sure to check your polling place in advance. Here is a handy list of polling-site locators by state. Click on your state and you’ll be directed to the appropriate site for your state, and prompted to enter your information. You can use this list to check poll-site opening and closing times by state, too.

Can I vote by mail? Also, is mail-in voting the same as absentee voting?
First of all, yes, they are basically the same thing; it’s just confusing because the semantics can vary by state. But they all have an option to, as Andrea calls it, “vote in your pajamas.” Typically, you need to meet certain requirements to get a mail-in ballot (being out of the country, having a disability, etc.). This year, many states (but not all) have eliminated or changed their requirements, so that anyone who wants to vote by mail can do so. As ever, it varies. States generally fall into three categories this year:

“No excuse” states allow everyone to request a mail-in ballot, no questions asked.
“Excuse” states require you to provide an approved excuse when applying for an absentee ballot. In many (but not all) of those states, COVID-19 is considered a valid “excuse.”
“All-mail” states are automatically sending mail-in ballots to every registered voter. Only a handful of states are doing this, so if you want a mail-in ballot, then assume you have to apply for one. Here’s the link to do so.

One more important thing: Some states mandate that mail-in ballots be signed by witnesses or notaries, or sent with a copy of your ID. Be sure to check your state’s requirements before sending yours in.

I got a mail-in ballot for the primaries. Will I automatically get one for the general election?
Nope. Unless you live in an “all mail” state, you will have to request a mail-in ballot for the general election.

When is the deadline to request a mail-in ballot?
The technical deadline varies, but Andrea stresses that the real deadline is now. “This is going to be the biggest crunch in this election,” she says, for two reasons: “The slowdowns with the Postal Service, and the increased demand for mail-in ballots.” Some states are used to handling a lot of mail-in ballots, she says. But for most, it’s going to be a huge and sudden adjustment. “Some states are going to go from 2% mail-in ballots to 60%.” And if election officials are flooded with requests coming in at the last minute, it’s going to be really difficult for them to get all those ballots out in a timely manner.

“You know how we had to flatten the COVID curve? We also have to flatten the request curve,” Andrea says. Getting your application in early helps ensure that your vote gets counted, and that your fellow citizens’ votes are counted too. If you’re wondering what you can do to help with this election? Here you go: Request your mail-in ballot today.

When is the deadline to return my mail-in ballot?
Same answer: As soon as you possibly can. There are different requirements for each state, but the longer you wait, the higher the risk of disenfranchisement for you and others.

I’ve already requested my mail-in ballot. When will I get it?
States typically start sending out ballots around 30 to 45 days prior to the election (here’s a list of mailing timelines by state). But again, it’s 2020. Officials are going to be dealing with an unprecedented number of requests, along with all sorts of other logistical challenges. It’s hard to know exactly when your ballot will arrive, but it absolutely doesn’t hurt to call and check in with your election officials (again, here’s the link to get their info). If others in your community have already gotten their ballots and you haven’t, or if the election is less than three weeks aways, definitely call.

FYI, if you do suspect something has gone awry with your ballot — or if you’re facing any other issues with voting, you can also call Vote.org’s Election Protection Hotline at 866-687-8683.

What if I request a mail-in ballot, then change my mind and decide to vote in person instead. Is that allowed?
This one is dicey. Technically, you always have a right to vote, but doing something like this can make things very complicated. And this is really not the year to make things more complicated. “We always tell people to plan their vote, and then stick to that plan,” Andrea says. If you get a mail-in ballot, you should use that ballot.

I’m worried about sending my ballot in via USPS. Are there other ways I can turn in a mail-in ballot?
Most states allow you to drop off a mail-in ballot by hand at a designated drop-off location. In many cases, it’s the office of your local election official, or a ballot drop box. To find out the options for your state and county, click here.

Where can I find out about early voting? Should I do that if I can?
The majority of states do have early voting, and it’s a GREAT option for those that want or need to vote at a polling place. “For those that are going to vote in person, I highly recommend that they go ahead and get their vote in early,” says Andrea. “You’ll avoid a lot of the congestion and lines.” Voting early also eases a bit of the burden on the system on election day, so if you can do so safely, it’s an excellent option. “Go ahead and get it done, and then organize all your friends to vote.” Here’s a list of early voting dates by state. I mean, come on! No lines!

PS: If you wanted to vote by mail due to COVID, but live in one of the states that does not recognize COVID as a valid “excuse,” Andrea suggests this as the next best option. It’s not the same as voting at home, but it involves far less exposure to others.

I keep hearing that we won’t have any results on election night. Is it really going to take days or weeks?
Yes, probably! And that’s a good thing! “Americans are used to knowing the results of an election by the 11 o’clock news, and this year we shouldn’t have that expectation. We should go in with the expectation that all those mail-in ballots are still coming in and still being counted. And we want every vote counted, right? That’s what’s important.” Given the percentage of mail-in ballots expected this year, it will likely take a few days or a week before we have results. I KNOW. It may be stressful as hell, “but it’s not a cause for concern,” Andrea says. “It means votes are being counted the way they should be.”

I heard they’re looking for poll workers. How can I apply?
Yes, there is a national shortage of poll-workers this year — and they place a crucial role in enabling in-person voting. (And many people need to vote in person, including those with certain disabilities, and those who need language assistance.) “Most poll workers are, you know, our aunties and uncles and grandparents — people who’ve been doing this job forever and volunteer every year,” says Andrea. Many of them are in the COVID high-risk age group of 65 or older, and simply can’t risk the exposure. “It’s going to be incumbent on a new generation of people to step up and become poll workers.” If you’re interested, here’s a simple guide on how it works and how to apply.

I’m so panicked about this election. I’ve got my voting plan in place but I keep hearing from friends and relatives who just seem so disillusioned that they’re like, “Why bother?” I don’t know what to tell them. How do I help encourage people to vote?
First, tell them they’re not alone. They are among millions of Americans feeling the same way “And that exhaustion people are feeling? That disaffectedness, that distrust — that’s on purpose,” says Andrea. “That is a suppression tactic, in and of itself.” Just as there are advocates like Andrea, working to simplify voting for everyone, there are plenty of folks within our political system who want us to feel confused and cynical about voting.

“The only way to counter that is with excitement — excitement about being able to build the world you want to build,” Andrea says. “I always try to remind people, just because you don’t vote doesn’t mean you don’t get leadership. And as this year has taught us, it’s not just your national leaders that matter. Your mayor matters, your DA matters, the judges you elect matter.” These are the people who will shape the policies that affect your life — and everyone else’s lives too. “Even if you can’t do this for yourself, there are a lot of people in this country who need you to show up for them.”

Any other questions you have? Let’s do this!

P.S. “Five things I want to tell my white friends,” and who Joanna will be voting for.

(Photo by Sean Locke/Stocksy.)

  1. kb says...

    This is an excellent resource and well compiled list! For additional help, please follow election expert @ambermcreynolds of vote at home, who works with election officials in all states to disseminate factual info. Also iwillvote is another great resource. If you are young and healthy and can become a poll worker, please know you are helping and appreciated. Free and fair elections are a cornerstone of our democracy and all eligible voters have the right to be heard.

  2. Ginny says...

    The CEO here is walking a fine line…501(c)(3) are NOT supposed to support or oppose any political candidate or party. I’m not getting that from her interview for this article.

    • Sasha L says...

      Please quote where in this article she is crossing that line? That’s a very serious accusation you are making without citing the offending statement (s)

    • Suzie says...

      I’m sure as CEO of a c3 she is very aware of the rules regarding endorsing political candidates. I wonder what about sharing information about voting is setting off alarm bells?

      As someone who works in risk management for nonprofits, this is informational and pretty in line with what vote.org does as a nonprofit.

    • kb says...

      Actually, participating in our democracy is our constitutional right but if you are on someone’s personal blog and don’t like their views, you can always go elsewhere. It’s a choice you are making.

  3. Christy says...

    Thank you for this post! As a military spouse, I’m constantly having to change up my voting & it gets so confusing. My spouse has a voting liaison officer who takes care of active duty members, but so often spouses are left out of this. Thank you for helping make it easier to exercise our rights. Love this community so, so much.

  4. Sommer says...

    Thank you, CoJ, for a literal “how to” vote article. I am moving to a new state this weekend and have been looking for resources to switch my voting state. It’s not easy!

    Also, I am so sad to read many of these comments…we can and should disagree about and discuss issues. I don’t understand why people feel the need to insult and be rude to others in comments and in real life. The insults that I read in these comments are heartbreaking to me. We can be so much better by listening to and respecting each other.

  5. Linda says...

    Might be the end of my participation with this blog since there are so many Trump supporters here. I cannot support fascism when our democracy is under attack.

    • Heather says...

      This is…odd? Punishing Joanna ( and sort of yourself as you’ll be missing out) because she randomly has trump supporters chime in specifically because she is against him? Genuinely confused by this logic and how you expect Joanna to ‘fix the issue’ for you.

    • Eliot says...

      It is definitely disheartening to see so many Trump supporters. It’s confusing to me why they are even interested in the content that Joanna and her amazing team give to us. I agree with Heather that it would be a mistake to leave because of fellow readers since Joanna is proudly pro-Biden and does not hesitate to post accordingly. But again, I’m unsure why the Trump supporters here are even still readers…what do they see here that resonates with their priorities? Or perhaps the better question is, how do they read and appreciate so many of the posts on COJ and not feel extreme tension between their worldview and the content they are consuming here?

    • Dana says...

      @Eliot, believe it or not, Trump supporters also like beauty product reviews, book recommendations, recipes, parenting tips, and house tours! And apparently they’re great at compartmentalizing, too, and not politicizing their downtime. So proud of the ladies who can enjoy what they choose to enjoy and filter out what they find irrelevant. That takes mental strength!

    • Sara says...

      So many? There are a small handful out of hundreds of comments.

    • Michelle says...

      Do you even understand what fascism means? I’m not sure how you don’t see a problem with condemning people or a space online because others don’t agree with your political views.

    • LInda says...

      Heather, Dana, and Michelle this is my choice to distance myself from people who are ruining our democracy. I cannot support that movement and will not associate with people who justify that. It is not about punishing Jo.

    • LInda says...

      Michelle, I do understand what Fascism means. It is is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, as well as strong regimentation of society and of the economy.

      The beginning of it looks like voter suppression, destroying the media, refusing to succeeding the vote, cozying up to leaders who poison their political opponents in order to win elections, ignoring the constitution, threatening to change the constitution in order to stay in power longer, pardoning oneself and all of their corrupt friends like a mob family, and all other forms of corruption that we have seen.

    • Heather says...

      Linda – I wonder if you could keep reading the blog and maybe just not even look at the comments as a comprise for yourself? I learn so much from this space (granted, the comments are a major part of that) and it’s always a bright spot in my day so it would a bummer for someone to lose that.

    • Sasha L says...

      @Eliot, I am similarly confused here as well. I certainly don’t hang out on some qanon supporting, far right, science denying, etc IG accounts for example because they also have good cleaning tips or recipes for smoothies. I can’t actually imagine supporting those world views no matter how great the *other* content might be. But then again, I understand well that condoning fascism and this administration, and now the Republican party in general, because they certainly goose step right behind, hurts real people. The kind of people that Jo and her team support in their posts every day, and encourage us to support. I don’t think those who support trump are deep thinkers or critical thinkers or actually care all that much about their “issues”. At all. How could you be, and still be here?

      Hey single issue abortion voters! If it’s *all* you care about, and you can overlook everything else, what the fuck are you doing here?????? COJ is as pro choice as you can possibly get and supporting her in any way clearly violates your own logic.

    • Dana says...

      Wow, Sasha, that’s some pretty strong language directed at people you never met.

  6. Rachel says...

    I am voting for trump. I hope i am still welcomed here.

    • Rosie says...

      You aren’t welcome anywhere I want to be!

    • Jessica says...

      Of course you are! Lord help us if Biden wins. Man can’t get a clear sentence out.

    • Kate says...

      When I hear people say they are voting for Trump, I hear them say that my trans friends are not welcome (who now can legally be discriminated against when receiving health care), that my grandmother is not welcome (who is terrified of catching COVID and disturbed by our national response), that my immigrant family members are not welcome, that freedom of speech is not welcome (even in the midst of police brutality protests NFL players are getting pushback for kneeling), that my black and brown friends are not welcome, that science is not welcome, and that women like me are not welcome. So… no welcome from me.

    • ani franco says...

      Everyone is welcome but I think we need reasoning, because it’s so hard to see any way Republicans are helping those who need it most. Any issues or policy attracting you ladies this time around? This might not be the election for “always did it that way” or “single issues”, so you have to be prepared.

    • Trish says...

      @Kate, and when I hear people are voting for Biden I hear that they are voting to defund the police, end religious freedom in the name of social justice activism, kill babies, and…wait, no that isn’t what I hear. I hear that they disagree with me on how to handle certain issues facing our country but that they’re probably good people anyway who I can find some common ground with if we had a civil conversation.

  7. Paige says...

    Commenters on this post (and others) seem very surprised by anyone saying they would vote for Trump/Pence and claim they must be bots. I’d be very careful thinking that these people aren’t real or in minimizing their power. I have not and will not be voting for Trump – but many of my family/community do vote for him. And I’m not going to shun them or push them out of my life. That only feeds the beasts of division, dissension, and an “us v. them” mentality. (Of course, many Trump supporters aren’t interested in trying to bridge the gap but shouldn’t we model the behavior we wish people to emulate?) Instead, we should be voting like crazy (especially in your local elections), helping to educate others and sharing our experiences, and loving those who don’t love you to change hearts and minds.

    • Lucy says...

      I hear you! I couldn’t be more anti-Trump. That said, I’ve been reaching out to voters for the Biden campaign like my life depends on it. I’ve found that the magic words when interacting with Trump supporters is “I respect you and your right to have differing political views”. It has diffused so many tense conversations. In the end, our futures are tied together and we probably have more similarities than differences. We don’t need to be enemies and that will do nothing for our country. The only way to have a meaningful conversation is to create a safe space where people meet one another with respect.

    • Sara says...

      I know (and am related to) Trump supporters, so I do know they exist. However, there is a certain type of online comment that is so over-the-top ridiculous with how AMAAAAAAZING Trump is that it truly boggles the mind to think that it is coming from a real person.

    • katie says...

      What bothers my about people coming on here to say “I’m voting Trump/Pence” is that is basically all they say. Or they’ll give some vague reason like “religious freedom” and “I have more money”.

      I’d really appreciate a Trump supporter articulating why they are voting Trump/Pence. What policies do you support and why?

    • Sara says...

      Katie, that’s it exactly.

      One of the comments here said they were voting for trump because they “support democracy” — I am curious as to how they think Trump is doing this given that most of the other world leaders he respects are autocrats, demagogues, and/or dictators.

      Several others have said they are voting for Trump because Biden “can’t get a clear sentence out” or some other similar comment alluding to some form of dementia Biden is supposedly suffering from. I mean, for one – that’s patently false and easily disproved by listening to any recent speech Biden has given. Two – have they listened to Trump???

      I would be interested in seeing an interview on here with women who are Cup of Joe readers, but also Trump supporters. Someone who isn’t a single issue voter (example: will always vote based on anti-choice judges), someone isn’t a Q-anon conspiracy nut — someone who can offer me some well though out reasons of their support.

    • katie says...

      Sara, I’d like to see that too! And if COJ and team thinks it would get too heated/nasty, perhaps they could turn off the comments on that particular post?

      Or an interview with a pro-Trump and pro-Biden. I’d probably still consider turning off the comments to protect people. It could serve as an informational post.

  8. Just signed up to be a poll worker because of this blog post.

  9. AJ says...

    I find it quite sad that those that said they are voting for Trump were all shamed by your readers…why are they not allowed the same respect as someone voting for Biden? I am voting Trump because I am pro-democracy and pro-freedom…I want to determine how MY money is spent not the government. Trump has allowed me to keep more of my hard earned money, lowered insurance premiums and made my 401k SOAR! He also protects my religious rights. Please no shaming…I am not shaming you for voting for a puppet that cannot remember his wife/sister’s name…I may not like Trump’s personality but I love his policy. The hispanic/black communities have benefited more from him than any other President I have seen in my lifetime.

    • Andrea says...

      You just did shame the readers who are voting for Biden/Harris by telling them they are voting for a puppet and demeaning them for their vote. You just did what you said was done to you. Also by the way Biden was born with a stutter and thats why he sometimes seems to lack the fluency of speech you so desire of a person running for office, to be perfect. A person’s actions show who they are and time and time again Trump has shown who he is, just like he just admitted on tape he lied to the American people about knowing the truth about Covid-19 and how severe it truly is and not just the sniffles.

    • Kate says...

      I’d love to determine how my money is spent, which is why I’m voting Biden. Can’t stand the idea of the government using my money to build walls, fund golf outings, pay for rooms at Trump hotels, and give tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans. Would much rather it be used to pay for wild things like better public health, education, and environmental protection.

    • Sara says...

      “ I am voting Trump because I am pro-democracy…”

      Hahaha. Hahahahahahahahahaha. Oh man, that is some good satire. Well done. For a second I almost thought you were serious.

      But for real… maybe it’s just me, but I truly can’t believe this person is real. It has to be a bot, right? If not, I really want to know how you have lower insurance premiums, because mine have only gone up.

    • Katie says...

      Please explain your stance on religious freedom? How do the republicans promote religious freedoms? Do you mean for people who think and act exactly like you? Because that’s what the republicans promote. They don’t make room for people who are different whereas democrats promote equality. So you’re basically saying that you are ok with people being discriminated against as long as you can deny LGBTQ service at your place of business or deny them marriage. Or you can deny women birth control.

      Frankly, religious entities get a lot of special treatment. They are exempt from taxes for one.

      So again, please explain to me what religious freedoms you’ll miss if a democrat is elected?

      Most religions preach kindness. I’m not sure how Trump and discrimination fits with religious doctrine.

    • Christine says...

      Hi AJ- could you elaborate how the hispanic/black communities have benefited more from Trump than any other President you have seen in your lifetime?

      All I see are the racial injustices happening to people of color at the hands of police and how the pandemic is disproportionately affecting blacks and hispanics.

      I am curious to hear your point of view however. Maybe I’m missing something?

    • K says...

      I didn’t read any of that “shaming” but will say I probably agree with it.

      And also, shame on you for supporting such a POS.

      Also? “The hispanic/black communities have benefited more from him than any other President I have seen in my lifetime”. Pfft…not even close to factual.

    • Linda says...

      Trump is the biggest threat to democracy our country has seen since it was founded. The constitution is hanging by a thread.

    • Trish says...

      Linda, can you please explain how the Constitution is hanging by a thread?

    • LInda says...

      AJ, You can expect your insurance premiums to go up quite a bit due to Trump’s negligence with covid. The American people will pay the price. Economic hardship is inevitable in the next year or two because of the economic impacts of his leadership at this time. Businesses are crumbling. Unemployment is sky high.

    • mb says...

      As a member of the Hispanic community, I want to say that personally I have felt scared to speak Spanish in public and that my own family has suffered the dire consequences of Trump’s lack of interest in the issues of the Latin American community. I don’t know what charts you read or benefits you reference but I absolutely disagree that Trump has helped out my community.

  10. Just wanted to add that if you have specific questions you can call the 1-866 number listed on Vote.org and talk to a real person who will help you figure it out. i just did!

  11. GF says...

    Thank you for this! I just signed up to be a poll worker, and I’m excited to lend a hand in any way I can. This election is wildly valuable and I hope people think of others as they vote.
    And anyone on here voting for Trump/Pence and putting smiley emojis and thinking we’re going to pat you on the back, we’re not smiling along with you…as a queer disabled woman with lots of non white/non Christian/non straight/non wealthy friends and family, I hope you know that you’re voting against our safety. You’re voting to have us stripped of rights and safety and feelings of well being. You’re voting for fear and hate. You’re voting in another 4 years of dread and terror and shame. You’re going to be the reason the father of my niece and nephew fears going to work every day because of the threat of deportation; you’re going to be the reason friends can’t access abortions or other valuable medical care; you’re going to be the reason I can’t access health insurance and the medication that saves my life; you’re going to be the reason this pandemic continues to sweep the nation; you’re going to be the reason our police and other white terrorists continue to murder black people in broad daylight; you’re going to be the reason we don’t feel okay in this world. We’re human beings…maybe think about that as you put your vote in. (and I will add that Biden and Kamala are the not the best. not in any way. they support police and between them have nasty histories of sexual violence and violence against LGBT folks and sex workers and lots of other folks, but you don’t get perfect candidates. you get candidates who will do less harm).

    • Elizabeth PFB says...

      YES to all of this!!!

  12. suki says...

    I have a question: If the electorate negated the popular vote last election, how can we trust this election when it seems even more is at stake?

    • mb says...

      The electoral college is still in place. Either candidate can win the popular vote and still lose the election. This is how the constitution was set up.

  13. Andria says...

    I’ll definitely be voting… for Trump/Pence! Thanks for the encouragement Cup of Jo😊

    • suki says...

      You do realize that this type of passive aggressive behavior is what gives Trump supporters a bad name? Do yourself a favor and ask yourself why you feel the need to do that. And then become a better person.

    • Kerry says...

      Hi Andria, As an outsider looking in (Canadian), the U.S. seems to be circling the bowl, so to speak, as a country. No disrespect, Canada is a dump, too. I don’t think either Trump or Biden seem like a viable candidate to improve the current state of affairs, but I’m wondering about the reasons why you support Trump over Biden. Genuinely curious and would love your perspective.

    • Katie says...

      In twenty years, when people marvel at how anyone could ever have been snookered by such an obviously incompetent conman, you’ll quietly pretend you never supported him, much like supporters of Nixon or segregation.

    • kim says...

      this seems so troll-ish and ghoulish, Andria–particularly with the news of the day about the recordings where Trump says the quiet part out loud that we all knew: he knew from the get go how dangerous COVID was going to be and he simply did not care.

      or perhaps better put as Ashley Nicole Black said on twitter:
      “Just the fact that there’s an uncontrolled pandemic, and high unemployment, and recession, and social unrest, and wildfires raging and the incumbent has ANY CHANCE of reelection really goes to show how racism is a hell of a drug.”

    • Christine says...

      Hi Andria,

      I am genuinely curious, as well, how you came to support Trump over Biden. Would you mind elaborating?

  14. Sam E. says...

    Thank you so much for compiling all of this great information! I moved to a new state a few weeks ago and have been anxious about missing deadlines to ensure I can vote here; I appreciate how easy you’ve made it for me to figure out my next steps. VOTE VOTE VOTE!

  15. Mary says...

    Fantastic information. Thank you so much for sharing.

  16. Eva says...

    It’s so unworthy of a democracy to make voting so complicated and try to restrict folks from voting. I grew up in Germany and the whole U.S. election process is unfathomable to me.

    • jane says...

      It shouldn’t be that unfathomable if you’re from a country who has survived facist regimes: America is deeply embroiled in a fight for the ownership of it’s own democracy.

      Between Silicon Valley and Trump’s overthrow of the democratic process, both are very close to succeeding for power over a largely apathetic nation. Seriously, most Americans are too busy watching tv to be concerned on the daily basis required to participate in a corrupted democracy so it will be a rude awakening. They don’t realize what’s at stake, taking for granted all of the privileges so expensively won by previous generations. We need help.

    • Eva says...

      Jane, with all respect and while I am sure your reply was well-meaning and I totally agree with what you wrote, I assure you it is possible to be from a country with a fascist past and find the voting system in the U.S. unfathomable. I think the reason for this is that I grew up in a rather stable democracy that has been in place for 70 years, and I’ve been taking my voting rights for granted. All you need to vote in Germany is a government ID, and you can get an absentee ballot without a problem for no particular reason at all. I’ve never experienced lines at ballots or even heard of voter suppression until I arrived in the U.S. as an adult. My experiences are probably similar to other readers from western European countries who commented where folks have not the slightest idea that voting in a democracy (!) can be a complicated affair, hence: unfathomable. It’s not an easy task to try and explain the state of things in regards to voting in this country to friends and family in Europe.

    • jane says...

      My apologies, I was being ironic and it did not come through well online.

  17. Alice says...

    Thank you for this post! I’m always grateful for the opportunity to vote – something that many generations before us were not afforded either by discrimination due to gender, race, or lack of wealth, or else that they lived in places where democracy was absent altogether. I’m so grateful for any opportunity to participate in my government in a meaningful way and don’t take it lightly!

  18. Lisa says...

    My parents were poll workers for the historic 1994 election in South Africa (that ended apartheid and brought in Nelson Mandela as president). My dad and brothers then worked counting ballots. I was too young to do any of this, so I’m kind of jealous that the rest of my family got to do something so important. It also implanted in my brain the importance of elections – I try to vote in every single one (and drag my kids along to the polling station). I can still see in my mind the queues – people waited SEVEN HOURS for the chance to vote. I’ll never take this for granted

  19. Pru says...

    Goodness this post was fascinating. As someone in the UK, I found it really interesting to see the different policies of each state. Let’s hope the weather is good for those voting in person and the lines aren’t too long. Is there a polling station in most towns?

    • There are usually many polling stations in larger towns and cities (here in San Francisco, there are several polling stations in my neighborhood during a normal election. We are all assigned to different stations based on our addresses). This year, California will be sending mail-in ballots to everyone, which is great. We are also usually able to vote early here in SF, at City Hall, and I know lots of people who do that.

    • Emily L says...

      Hi Pru! I’m sure that stations vary in each state and city (like everything else…) but in Vermont there is a polling place in every town and multiple in the larger cities. For perspective, most towns in Vermont have between 1000-5000 people. Our state is also an All Mail state. The primary this summer, which was the first time everyone was sent a ballot by mail, had the highest primary turnout in state history.

    • Pru says...

      Thank you Rachel and Emily L for answering. I shall stay up to watch the election results (although I expect I may be awake for work by the time to result is in).

  20. Christi says...

    Is there anything those of us outside of America can do to help?

    • jane says...

      You can help us by publishing critically intelligent solutions to some of our most obvious issues in widely visible international media outlets as soon as possible and don’t stop when this election is over!

      We need the international critique/support of 1st world countries who have overcome dictatorial regimes and who have established digital boundaries that protect personal freedom/identity. We need the insight and clarity of vision that your political distance provides to illuminate what we are so very close to losing. Thank you so much for asking!

    • Rosie says...

      Yes! You can phone bank from other countries.

  21. Alli says...

    Thanks for this post, Joanne & team, but your headline feels a little click-baity, without taking a stance.

    It’s time for you to publically state that you DON’T support Trump, and urge your readers to hear why. You have a platform. USE IT. The comments here show you that your audience is still divided.

    I’m betting you’ve seen this post by Design Mom last month. Won’t you join in the conversation?

    https://www.designmom.com/the-consequences-of-your-actions/

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Thanks for your note! We enthusiastically support Biden and we have been public about this many times on the site and social. We are excited to write more this fall! Thank you xoxo

    • Donna says...

      Jo has been very clear about her support from Biden and has provided numerous posts for months on why. These kinds of comments that are rushed are deeply unhelpful to our cause of getting him elected. I’m also unclear as to how Jo would influence those whose minds are fully committed to Trump – he has an extremely loyal base and it seems wildly unrealistic to put the expectations on her to “unite” a divided audience. I’m unclear as to what you think she could do, beyond providing some very compelling reasons to support Biden. Which she has. Thanks for hearing me out.

    • Agnès says...

      Every one should read that Design Mom post, even if you’re not a us citizen (like me), and especially if you vote for Trump. The level of argumentation is so clear, and there is a follow up post that is important too.

      I’ve been reading CupofJo everyday and their commitment for democrats has always been loud and clear.

    • Alice says...

      I don’t think the title is click-baity at all!! It’s the practical how not the ideological how. Did you miss the excited post about Kamala Harris’ nomination? It’s abundantly clear how the team here feel.

    • miranda says...

      Seems weird to support Kamala Harris (though I understand supporting Biden). Her brother-in-law is Chief Counsel for Uber… aka making sure they avoid paying millions in taxes. I’d almost rather not vote than vote for someone I don’t agree with because the other option is worse.

    • Samantha says...

      It is important in a post strictly about voting to not make it about one candidate. It’s not just Republicans that use suppression tactics. EVERYONE in this country has a right to vote, regardless of their political affiliation.

    • Kate says...

      “How to Vote This Fall” is clickbait-y? I think that’s a little insulting to the CoJ team.

    • Ana says...

      Why? Stay neutral, as not everybody wants to vote for Biden… or Trump on the other hand. As people are different, don’t force your ideology on us and don’t get dumbed down. Thanks.

    • Hilary says...

      @Miranda – how is it is Kamala’s fault that her brother-in-law is Chief Counsel for Uber?!

      My brother-in-law was one of those dingbats hosting covid parties and also recently lost all his money in a pyramid scheme. Seriously. Meanwhile, I am taking covid VERY seriously and I run a successful (and currently virtual!) human-centered design and facilitation firm.

      God helps us if we were all judged by the actions of our brothers-in-law…

    • Katie says...

      Samantha, do you have an example of when Democrats have used voter suppression tactics in recent history? Higher turnout benefits Dems, so they have zero incentives to engage in that behavior.

    • Marisol says...

      Vote.org is a non-partisan organization, it would be a conflict of interest for Cup of Jo to endorse a candidate on this post.

  22. joy says...

    Thank you for this terrific post! It pushed me to find my polling place for early voting in NYC–and the very fact that we finally HAVE early voting is testament to the importance of voting…the 2018 flip of the NY legislature helped achieve long overdue election reforms.

  23. Adriana says...

    Thanks for sharing this info! As much as we need easy access to absentee ballots, it’s also good to keep in mind that in-person voting is generally still the best option if you’re healthy and feel comfortable doing so. Going to vote in person is as safe, if not safer, than going to the grocery store! And increasing the in-person vote will help address many of the issues raised, like delayed vote counts. Absentee ballots are also more likely to get rejected since small mistakes on the ballot/envelope or signatures that don’t match perfectly can disqualify a ballot in many states (so make sure you fill the ballot out properly if you’re voting absentee!).

    For people interested in helping out with the election effort, but who don’t feel comfortable signing up to be poll workers, there are several election hotlines that help address voter issues and could use volunteers. (Election Protection is a great one for folks in the legal profession).

    Again, thank you for providing this information to your readers!

  24. Emma says...

    Thank you so much for this!

  25. Catherine says...

    If you are in Texas, I strongly recommend taking advantage of early voting. It’s usually held for the two weeks prior to Election Day, but check with your county. During the 2016 election, the wait times were unprecedented during early voting, and I’m sure it will be the same this year. Mornings are often a good time to go, if you can swing it. And, unfortunately, you do need a photo ID in Texas. Our current leaders have made it increasingly difficult to vote over the years.

    • Court says...

      I did this in Texas for the last election! I will be doing it again :)

  26. Sasha says...

    Ready to vote for Trump/Pence! Cannot imagine or envision a world where Bid/Harris/the Mob is given free reign. Lord help us!

    (p.s. I’m a African American, so I don’t wanna hear the racist b.s. Direct your energy elsewhere, please.)

    • AMK says...

      I’m Mexican. Trump and Pence can go kick rocks.

    • elizabeth says...

      Glad to cancel you out then. Racism is just the tip of the iceberg with those two truly awful men.

    • Kay says...

      I don’t want to start an argument either, but your comment breaks my heart.

    • AE says...

      Saying you’re Black doesn’t validate your statement. Don’t be a troll.

    • Elly says...

      YES, Sasha!! You go, girl.
      Love seeing a fellow conservative among the very vocal left here.

    • Liza says...

      Sasha, I respect your fundamental right to have a different political position than me and I deeply respect you as a human being. There are so many reasons why I am voting against Trump this election season, not the least of which is that Trump has admitted on tape that he knew how deadly the coronavirus was before it ever hit the US. He could have prevented our crisis, but he let more than 200,000 American souls leave us (thus far), caused millions more lose their jobs and even go hungry (along with their children), and let our economy.completely crash in a way that may take a generation or more to recover from. That said, I am also voting against him because of race. I can’t speak to your experience, but as a Latina, I can share my personal experience.

      Casual racism has always been a quiet fact of life for me – whether it consists of bricks thrown through my family’s window when we moved to an all white neighborhood, constant accusations of “acting white” (by white classmates for working hard to get good grades) or regular unconscious bias in the workplace (often in the form of harmless ignorant comments that I shrug off). Never has it been worse for me than in the Trump administration, manifested as open, menacing animosity. There is no denying that he has stoked the flames of racism among a large part of his base.

      He normalized generalizing Mexicans as rapists and bad hombres. He told American born Latinx citizens (such as AOC) to go back to where they came from (any one with the experience of being Latinx in America can tell you there is no ambiguity in what that means). He implemented policies of family separation for refugees and putting Latinx children in cages. Under his watch, ICE detention centers have become a hotbed of violence, sexual abuse (even the sexual abuse of minors), and death by preventable disease. There is no excuse for this. None. No matter your stance on immigration, it is inhumane, cruel and unacceptable.

      This is only scratching the surface. I could spend hours listing the ways that his actions, words, and policies have made America less safe for people of color. He characterized the Coronavirus as the “China Virus” and the “Kung Fu Flu”, which happened to coincide with a dramatic rise in violence against Asian Americans. He took out a full page ad in the New York Times calling for the death of the Central Park Five after their wrongful imprisonment. He defended members of the KKK after the terrible events that unfolded in Charlottesville. The list goes on and on.

      I cannot speak to your experience – and truly want you to live in America where you feel safe, heard ,and represented, whatever that may look like to you. That said, I can speak to the truth in my own experience as a Latina. The last four years have been nothing short of painful and frightening. Peace and blessings to you.

    • Lisa says...

      Today’s news shows Trump lied to all of America about Covid to protect “his economy” at any cost. So now the economy AND 190,000 people are dead. How anyone wants another 4 years of the pussy grabber is beyond me, but you do you!!

    • Andrea says...

      Sasha you do you. That’s what voting is all about. I encourage people to vote regardless of their affiliation.

      I have also been working with Vote Save America to get Dems in PA to register and vote. My goal is to get 100 PA voters to go to the polls, mainly as a means of counteracting 4 Trump voters I know in WA.

    • Sarah says...

      Sasha – Genuinely asking, without judgment: can you give clarity on why you support Trump/Pence? What are your important values, or is it just a simple matter of not liking Biden or being a conservative? Would love to hear and understand your perspective as an opportunity for growth on both sides :)

    • Vero says...

      I am so fascinated and horrified by the stubbornness of Trump voters. He doesn’t care about you. He doesn’t care about women, especially women of colour. He openly talked about sexually assaulting women, he mocked a special needs reporter, he lied about COVID, he aligns himself with other dictators, he’s openly trying to destroy the postal system, voter suppression, encouraging violence and destroying your democracy. What else would he have to do to get you to change your mind and realize he offers you nothing?

    • Andrea says...

      Vero–I heard a good commentary this week about the Trump base. They like him like people like a sports team. They are not looking at him as a person or as a leader, they just see him as their team and they want that team to win/not to lose like people like OSU and hate Michigan. It has nothing to do with how the nation is actually governed. It’s why it’s impervious to reason or reality.

      If you don’t like that, go and make sure you enable people to vote against him.

    • Lisa says...

      Liza- THANK YOU for having the energy to write that. I am a Latina too and I agree with everything you said and I appreciate the energy you took to write it out. EXACTLY
      Andrea- thank you for that perspective! It makes a ton of sense given the (luckily very few) people I know who support Trump. It’s like when Seinfeld joked about rooting for a team no matter who comes and goes from it….so basically you are rooting for the uniform, or as he put it, “laundry”. Trump supporters are rooting for an ugly tie that wasn’t even made in America. Also there is pride/ego which is such an ugly thing and some people think they “save face” by not wavering from their opinion from 4 years ago. I heard there’s an ad campaign in some states that basically says “Vote your conscience but you can still tell your friends and family you voted for Trump if you want!” Brilliant. Whatever it takes. :).

    • June says...

      Political discourse in this country has been so poisoned that it’s impossible for the vast majority of readers to understand how someone could intentionally vote for Trump.

      It shows a severe lack of self-awareness. You were surprised by the results in 2016? Just wait until November.

      I could go on and on about reasons why I’m voting for Trump (immigration, abortion, “draining the swamp”, the Supreme Court, border control, pro-police) but all any of you will see is “casual racism” and “white privilege”.

      I’ve had enough interactions in real life to know that most people are unable to think for themselves and believe Trump is the devil incarnate.

      Case in point: Trump bragged about sexual assault? No, he said that when you’re famous women let you do whatever you want. Crass? Yes. An excuse for rape? Obviously, no. The way the media (and many of you) use that tape as a reason not to vote for him is odd to the extreme. Biden told black people they weren’t black unless they voted for him. Where’s the outrage for that? Talk about casual racism…

    • Linda says...

      Sasha, Trump is the closest thing to the mob I have ever seen in US government. Truly corrupt president. He has been talking about pardoning himself and his friends since he got into office.

    • Vero says...

      June, so curious about “draining the swamp”. I think it’s important to find places where we agree. The status quo, “politics as usual” obviously wasn’t working and we can agree on that. But the way he went about these changes was all wrong. Taking out the politicians and appointees that are problematic is great but putting in people like Betsy DeVos isn’t a good line of action either. She’s not very knowledgable about the school systems and is trying to gut the public school system, and is putting resources towards schools for wealthier families. Do you think that is wrong?

      Putting people who were CEOs for big energy companies as the ministers of the environment is a huge problem as well. There are so many conflicts of interest in the people that Trump has appointed. And has he “drained the swamp”? There has been so much turnover among his appointees and so many of them have been confirmed to have broken laws and are in jail, or have been pardoned by them as a favour, not because it was the right thing to do. How do you feel about things like this? That scares me. That doesn’t seem like democracy and it really doesn’t feel like action in the right direction.

  27. Lesley says...

    If you read this and thought, “Whew – so easy to vote in my state” – I hope you’ll consider making a donation to Fair Fight. Georgia is a hotspot for Voter disenfranchisement and getting harder and harder to vote.

    • Emily L says...

      Thank you for sharing this!

  28. M says...

    For those voting in New York City, there is a new website this year where you can check the status of your absentee ballot! https://nycabsentee.com/tracking

  29. A says...

    Thanks! Signed up to be a poll-worker!

    • beth says...

      That’s awesome- thank you!

  30. Cara says...

    This is great! I personally am freaking out about this election. While I have a voting plan and will talk to my friends and family, I would love to see a Cup of Jo piece about ways regular schmegular folks like me can help get out the vte.

    • Caroline says...

      Cara,
      I agree a piece on that would be great! In the meantime, phone banking is believed to be one of the most effective get out the vote activities. I was nervous about it at first but you’re not convincing people who to vote for, you’re just providing info on HOW to vote. The first time I did it poured myself a nice glass of wine, but it was easy and it made me feel helpful.

      Pennsylvania could decide the race and this site has phone banking sign ups:
      https://turnpablue.org/

      Another option if you have a printer is writing GOTV letters:
      https://votefwd.org/

      This site also has a number of options:
      https://swingleft.org/

      And of course ask your similarly minded friends to confirm they’re registered and ready to vote!

    • Alicia says...

      I second this, great suggestion

    • Lisa says...

      Thank you so much Caroline! Love those suggestions.

  31. Alexandra says...

    YESSS!!! I have been encouraging everyone I know to vote. So hopeful that we can begin to get this country back on track after the pain and disgrace of the last 4 years. Thank you for breaking this down, Cup of Jo team!

  32. Bec says...

    One more question…what the heck are we supposed to do in TX where Covid is not a valid excuse for a mail in ballot? I was told you can write in “disability” as your excuse which is a somewhat vague term and no one follows through anyway to see what your disability was. Help!

    • Catherine says...

      Go during early voting! Get up and be in line at 7 am, and you’ll get it done. Social distance, wear a mask, wash your hands, and VOTE!

  33. Sara says...

    Thank you for posting this voter info. We have to vote like our democracy depends on it because it does!!

  34. I’ll do whatever Kelsey Miller tells me to do (especially when it comes to voting!) xo

  35. Rachel says...

    Thank you! This just pushed me to check on the status of mail-in options in my state and get my boyfriend to request his absentee ballot. XO

  36. Claire says...

    Erin Boyle, author of Reading My Tea Leaves, is doing a weekly series (on Mondays) from now until the election on voting. It’s got great information if you’re interested! (www.readingmytealeaves.com)

  37. Claire says...

    I’m so relieved that Washington is (and, for quite a few years has been) automatically an absentee ballot state. It feels like the right thing to do, in terms of accessibility and access for those who have difficulty getting outside of their homes and to a polling places at a particular time. I so wish that it was this easy to vote in all states, and that it was required for all of us to vote! As my dad always says, you’re not just voting for President right now, you’re also voting for the Supreme Court for the next several decades. Let’s let sweet RBG retire sooner than later!

  38. Lindsey says...

    Hi!

    I just want to add to this beautiful PSA post with added info for those with restraining orders and/or victims of crime who are afraid to register to vote or update their address for voting because voting records are public: Most all states have a way to register to vote confidentially that you will qualify for. They’re often called “Safe at Home” programs, or “Vote Safe” programs and you can find yours with a bit of Googling. Most Victim of Crime programs (I use the word “victim” here because that is what the court system uses) fail to immediately mention this while you go through the file/trial process, and I don’t want anyone else to potentially feel even more silenced after whatever it is you’ve gone through. All my love xx

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      THANK YOU, Lindsey. this is really helpful and important information.

  39. And don’t forget to fill out your census forms, everyone!

    • shade says...

      YES! Also super important and I don’t think a lot of people understand why.

  40. Liz says...

    Is there a website to check on the status of when mail-in ballots will be sent by state? That would be helpful so we can anticipate when we will be receiving them.

  41. Elisabeth says...

    THANK YOU, Kelsey and team! Without hyperbole, our democracy is at stake in November.

  42. Lauren Ruben says...

    This is pure gold

    • W says...

      But which is the best way to vote? I’m panicked and paranoid that my absentee ballot will not be counted or that early voting will be hacked. I just want to be absolutely positive that my vote will count. Which way is the safest?

    • Andrea says...

      W check to see if you can drop off your ballot at your Board of elections. Google your state, county or city election board and see what your options are.

  43. Ceridwen says...

    I’m feeling grateful for our straightforward compulsory voting system in Australia. So good you have put this together to help people vote. Go well everyone!

    • Miriam says...

      This is great and now I want to do more! How can I help register other people to vote? Or help them vote by mail?

  44. Kellie P says...

    This is awesome! I work for a legal site called FindLaw and we also put together an unbiased voting rights guide here: https://www.findlaw.com/voting.html

    This includes extensive coverage – searchable by state – on topics such as voting rights history and law, voting amid COVID-19, submitting an absentee ballot, and how to vote by mail.

  45. Deana says...

    Thank you for providing this important public service information! Our rights are not passive – they require action.

  46. kiki says...

    I’ve moved to Oregon the week of my 18th birthday, so i’ve never voted any way except by mail. Honestly, I was a bit bummed at first. I had kind of romanticized the notion of casting my ballot in an elementary school gym with the rest of my community. But, as I’ve gotten older it’s become SO much more convenient and I find myself voting on things I never would have otherwise! I can’t tell you how many times a ballot has arrived in my mailbox and I didn’t even know a (minor local) election was happening! And this year I’m even MORE thankful it’s already the established norm here! Seriously, we need to rally to get more states on this system!

    • Sarah says...

      Yeah, Kiki!!! Portland resident here and just want to agree, especially to your point about the smaller elections AND to our lawmakers approving paid postage last year. An important process made simple. I’m so proud of Oregon on and leading up to those Tuesdays.

  47. Ann says...

    This is so great. Thank you for doing this. I’m deeply concerned about our 18 year old getting his absentee ballot. It’s so important that the class of 2020 / 18 year olds vote!

  48. Glad you shared this! I live in Oregon (and previously WA) which is a 100% vote-by-mail state, and I feel so lucky to have such a simple, safe way to vote. For those in vote-by-mail states, I encourage you to drop off your ballots at an official drop site (rather than mailing) as early as possible! I’ll be voting as soon as that ballot hits my mailbox.

  49. Shannon says...

    One! Hundred! Million! Eligible voters did not vote in 2016. Thank you for this post. Everyone deserves a chance to participate in our democracy and have a voice in issues that matter to them. Make a voting plan, have a voting buddy, spread the voting joy!

    • ML says...

      I did not know it was that high. Holy moly!

  50. Kerstin says...

    If you’re an overseas voter, you can send in the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) now. Then, if/when you receive your official absentee ballot, you can complete that and mail it in too. If both your ballots arrive in your elections office in time, only one ballot will count (the other will be destroyed by election officials). This option is legal only for overseas voters (i.e. citizens voting absentee while living outside the US), and is not voting twice as only one ballot is counted. It is a good resource to know right now considering mail delays. More info here: https://www.fvap.gov/

    • Tara says...

      This is such important information for overseas voters, who have historically low turn-out! So for all you CoJ overseas voters, GET OUT AND VOTE! :)

  51. Kristin says...

    Such an important post! Thank you so much. Biden Harris 2020!!!

    • Lola says...

      Agree, very important post!! Trump 2020!!!

    • Kim says...

      Lola, how can you in good conscience promote that sorry excuse of a man? Seriously, can you name even one thing he’s done that’s been good for the whole of the populace?

    • Joanne says...

      Agree! Very important! Make your voice heard 2020 (and let’s hope the *people’s choice* wins this time).

    • Meghan says...

      Any Functional Adult 2020!

  52. Andrea says...

    Thanks for sharing!

    In the answer to the question “Where can I find out about early voting? Should I do that if I can?” I think the word NOT is missing in the PS.

    Should read: “PS: If you wanted to vote by mail due to COVID, but live in one of the states that does NOT recognize COVID as a valid “excuse,” Andrea suggests this as the next best option. It’s not the same as voting at home, but it involves far less exposure to others.”

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, you’re right, thank you! fixed!

  53. Loesie says...

    This looks very clarifying to all of you in the US voting this year, thanks for this article!

    But I must say, from where I stand (the Netherlands), the whole US procedure on its own looks so complicated!

    In my country, once you’re 18, you get a card in the mail. You bring that card, bring your ID, fill in your vote on a piece of paper and you have voted.

    I wish the whole voting procedure in the US would be so much easier than it is now.

    Very, very good that you have published this post in clarifying things and answering questions.

    Please please please dear people, please vote!

    Sending love to all who need it in these confusing times ❤️

    • Kate says...

      There are those who want to make voting as difficult as possible because they know they’d lose if everyone in their district could vote as easily as that. It’s horribly depressing but fortunately there are other people who will never stop fighting for voting rights for all!

    • Dana says...

      Loesie, that streamlined system sounds so straightforward. The United States population is almost 20x that of the Netherlands, though! (Also, you mention ID requirements – is that photo ID? Most states don’t require photo ID in the U.S.).

    • D says...

      You would think a card with your name/address accompanied by a valid ID would be the way it is in the USA. That seems like a dream.

    • Angie says...

      It has always been confusing to vote in this country. I’m in my 40s and have lived in three different states. This is not new. It has been a long standing issue but career politicians didn’t flag it as a problem until after the 2016 elections.

    • El says...

      Angie, it’s cool that you’ve recently become aware of voter disenfranchisement! I promise you that activists (and some politicians) have been working on stopping voter suppression for a long time before the 2016 election. :)

    • Agnès says...

      Same in France Loesie, you just have to show up with your id; I still don’t get how the voting system works in the US. John Oliver did a great video on that (I think it was a few years ago); and I got it at the time but I couldn’t explain it again (so, no, I didn’t get it really).
      I have always been a poll-worker and I recommend it to every one, it makes you a better citizen, for sure.

    • Katie says...

      Essentially every state is able to control its own verification methods for voting, provided it’s deemed Constitutional (which many conservative states have tried to test in recent years, as making voting more easily accessible benefits Democrats in elections, not Republicans).

      While it may sound straightforward to just have people show government photo ID, that’s actually fairly restrictive in a country where 1. there are no mandatory ID laws, 2. driver’s licenses serve as stand-in for IDs, which obviously benefits those with the need for and access to a driver’s license (i.e., wealthier and suburban or rural voters are far more likely to have one), and 3. many (most?) Americans don’t have passports.

      In my state (Illinois), you fill out a voting registration form and provide either your driver’s license or state ID, or if you don’t have that, then your Social Security number and proof of residency in the form of a utility bill or other document with your address on it. I realize this probably sounds quite complicated, but that’s what happens when you have a country with vast disparity of wealth and access to IDs and 50 different states that write their own laws.

  54. katie says...

    Thank you for this. THANK YOU!

    I’m lucky in that I live in a state that allows early voting and no excuse mail in voting. We also have designated drop off points for those ballots, which is what my husband and I will be doing this year.

    Remember, since our inception, people have fought for the right to vote. It may not be perfect. But it does matter. Please vote.

  55. Lea says...

    As an immigrant who has lived in the States for years but is not a citizen (and therefore cannot vote) – PLEASE don’t squander this privilege by not voting! There are many without it who are relying on you!

    • Fiona says...

      This is my first election as a citizen and I’m PSYCHED! I’ve written about 150 postcards either reminding people to vote or telling them how to register for mail in voting. I’m stressed and pumped all at once. Sharing the excitement and doing something concrete at once has made a big difference in my mental health leading up to the election, I can’t recommend it enough!

    • Lena says...

      Is this Lea of podcast fame?

    • Lea says...

      Lena – Different Lea, but now curious who your podcast Lea is!

      Fiona – I can feel the excitement, what a year to cast your first vote! Lots of admiration for your postcard initiative.

  56. Andrea says...

    Also–don’t keep this information to yourself. I’ve been reaching out to people in my networks and providing information on how they can submit a vote by mail application or go in for early voting. We can help each other. I even asked my phlebotomist yesterday how she was planning to vote.