With COVID-19 still a very real problem in the US, the upcoming election will most certainly be affected. Not only is there a shortage of poll workers, which can lead to longer wait times, but voting by mail is also unclear to many. It's important to exercise your right to vote, so once you've registered, find out not just where to vote, but how to vote by mail or vote early if you choose. Ahead, we have tips from Debra Cleaver, founder of Vote America, on the advantages of voting early as well as what you need to know about the whole process.
Why Should I Vote Early?
There are a few advantages to voting early. One of the big advantages is that you get your vote in and out of the way. This year, especially, there's a lot up in the air with mail-in ballots and polls being understaffed due to COVID-19, and voting early helps to spread out the votes coming in. Cleaver added, "Election administrators are likely to get overwhelmed, and that can cause issues and mistakes. To avoid that, we need to flatten the curve of applications they'll receive — which means you need to request your voter registration applications now, and request your absentee ballot or sign up to vote by mail now."
And because of COVID-19, voting early, especially by mail, will bring down the number of people going to the polls on Election Day — thus lessening the chances of exposure for both those working and those voting. Cleaver also noted that most likely the lines will be long at polling places in November, largely because of a shortage of people working. "There will be very long lines at the polls in most counties. Skip all of that. Vote early, vote by mail."
How Do I Know When to Vote?
You have to be sure to know your area's guidelines, and in many cases, mail-in ballots need to be mailed well before the election. Vote America is a great resource for registering to vote and finding out all the important dates. Once you have the date nailed down, make sure you stick to it. It's important to make a note of when mail-in ballots are due and when exactly you can vote early. It can vary by state, and COVID-19 has also affected some states as well.
How Do I Sign Up to Vote Early?
Check the government website for voting to find out when you need to register by and when your ballots have to be in or when you need to vote. Pay close attention to the deadlines and make sure you meet them so your vote is counted!