Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many states are adjusting voting methods and deadlines. We’re committed to making sure Black people have full access to the ballot box. Increased access starts with educating thousands of Black voters about how to register online or by mail, how to vote, and important deadlines during this pandemic.
Voting from home is a safe and convenient way to cast a ballot— that’s why more than 8 million Americans have already voted in this year’s general election. Here’s everything you need to know to vote safely, securely, and early in the November general election:
- The first step of participating in any election is registering to vote. To vote in the upcoming election, most states require you to register by October. Register to vote or check your voter registration status at http://votingwhileblack.com/ballot.
- To vote by mail in the majority of states, voters must proactively apply to request a mail-in ballot.
- In 9 states and the District of Columbia, every registered voter will automatically receive a mail-in ballot to their home ahead of the November election. Those states are California, Nevada, New Jersey, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Hawaii, and Vermont.
- Voters must generally request a ballot about 2-3 weeks before Election Day.
- Each state has its own rules for mail-in absentee voting. In the majority of states, voters can cite concerns over COVID-19 as a valid excuse for requesting a mail-in absentee ballot.
- In Texas, Indiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana, voters are required to provide an additional excuse to apply for a mail-in absentee ballot beyond concerns of the coronavirus pandemic. Visit your state election office’s website for more information.
- Once you receive your ballot in the mail, you will need to: cast your vote on the ballot, place the voted ballot in the envelope, and return it either by mail, dropping it off in a secure dropbox, or in person to your local election office. Avoid postal delays and allow time to correct ballot issues by returning your voted ballot as soon as possible.
- Some states may require voters take an additional step to ensure their vote is counted. This may include: having a witness or notary public certify the ballot; placing your ballot in an additional, secrecy envelope; or including a copy of your ID with the ballot. Carefully read the instructions for filling out and returning your ballot properly.
- After you’ve dropped off your ballot, some states may allow you to track it through the postal system, or check the status of your ballot to confirm receipt. Ask your local elections office about options available to you.
- Once your ballot arrives at the elections office, it may be processed and tabulated within days, but several states must wait until Election Day, November 3 before opening and counting votes.
- Keep in mind that given the surge in mail-in ballots this year, we likely won’t know election results for days, or even weeks after election night.