There’s still time to vote. Here’s how.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Photo: Nick Canchola
There’s still time to vote. Here’s how.

By Angelina Lin

Nov. 3, Election Day, is approaching fast, and engaging in our civic right to vote is a direct way to get involved in our country’s decisions for yourself and those who cannot. If you are still planning on voting or have already voted but still have questions about your ballot, here is what you need to know.

Given significant delays in the United States Postal Service, election officials and political parties urge voters to find options besides mail to cast their ballotin order to ensure that it gets counted.

Although most states have registration deadlines before Election Day, 19 states allow for same-day voter registration (when you can register and vote on the same day), including on Election Day. These states are: Washington, Idaho, Nevada, California, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Maryland, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, and Hawai’i. The District of Columbia also allows same-day registration up until Election Day as well. Be sure to seek out state-specific information on guidelines and information about voter registration.

If you are still waiting for your ballot:

Be sure to confirm you are registered to vote. The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in 2002 ensures that all voters can still vote when there are administrative errors such as questions about their registration, when you do not receive your ballot, when your information does not register at a polling place, or when you have problems proving your identity, etc. 

Although implementation and execution of HAVA varies by state, under these conditions, you may be able to cast a provisional ballot, and once your eligibility is proven, your vote will be counted. 

States that offer same-day voter registration and no registration requirements do not offer provisional ballots. Vote with a provisional ballot by referring to your local election website. If you are a military member, military family member, or overseas absentee voter, you may be able to fill out the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot.

If you plan to cast your vote in person

Find your polling place locations by state by entering your address. You can find out where to vote, see what is on your ballot, and get information about contacting your election officials using’s polling place locator. Be sure to also check voting process guidelines during COVID-19 by reading up on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s lists of state and federal resources available to you, or on your local state election website such as California’s Elections and Voter Information website.

Two-thirds of states require some sort of identification to vote at the polls, and voter ID requirements differ by state. Roughly half accept only photo ID, while other states accept other forms. There are also specific procedures that may allow you to vote without identification, and federal laws specifically concerning first-time voters.

You can also drop off your ballot using ballot boxes in your surrounding area. You can use the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Vote by Mail Drop Box finder to locate ballot boxes in Los Angeles county specifically. 

Be sure to also know the difference between a fake ballot box and an official one. For example, the Vote by Mail Drop Boxesare bolted securely into cement or chained in place” and “are designed with security features identified in state regulations.”

To ensure your ballot is counted

Thoroughly read and follow the instructions printed on your ballot. This may seem like a no-brainer, but ballots have been rejected for forgotten signatures, stray marks, witness requirements, or simply arriving too late. Ballot rules vary by state, so pay close attention to their specific criteria for acceptable ballots. If you have questions, find information on contacting your local election office to read up on dates, deadlines, eligibility requirements and more.

If you have already mailed in your ballot:

Many states and counties have resources to track your ballot through services such as BallotTrax or USPS tracking. Some have local services, which can usually be found by searching “ballot status (your state).” 

If you are voting by mail or absentee, be sure to double-check your state’s absentee, mail, and early voting deadlines and guidelines. For overseas voters, the Federal Voting Assistance Program provides voting assistance to service members, their families, and overseas citizens.

If you’ve already voted:

You can also get involved on Election Day by becoming a poll worker. Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the shortage of poll workers, over half of poll workers in the 2016 and 2018 elections were over the age of 61. This age group is especially susceptible to severe illnesses related to COVID-19 and has suffered most from the illness. Younger folks who are comfortable can help to play a crucial role in the democratic process while staying safe and adhering to COVID-19 guidelines.

With little days left to vote in this year’s general election, we urge our readers to know their state’s election guides and consult its local election website as well.

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