We are finally in the home stretch of the 2020 campaign season. You are likely hearing a few common refrains on repeat: “Register to vote!” “Make a plan to vote!”
I know I have written those phrases more times than I can count – and that’s because it’s really important to check your registration AND make a plan to vote. Research has shown that you are 10% more likely to actually vote when you think through and plan ahead how you will vote. With all the additional uncertainty this year, it’s more important than every to research, plan, and visualize how and when you will cast your ballot.
So let’s not take anything for granted. Stop what you’re doing right now, get out your planner or a pad of paper. Let’s make your plan to vote.
Step by Step Plan to Vote
1. Confirm your voter status.
First things first, let’s make sure you are registered to vote. Click this link for a tool that will search for your status.
If you’re a military spouse who moves every couple of years, it can be a challenge to remember where you’re registered. Don’t let that stop you. Check any address where you may have registered.
If you confirm you are registered to vote, awesome, move ahead to the next step.
If you’re not registered or want to register at a new address, do that now. Right now, right here.
(And, don’t worry if you are actually registered somewhere else that you couldn’t quite remember. Your new registration supersedes an old one. As long as you don’t try to vote twice, you’re not doing anything wrong.)
2. Decide HOW you will vote.
Here’s your first decision. How will you vote: at home or in person?
This may be a choice of necessity (you live away from where you vote) or preference (voting by mail to avoid exposure to COVID). There is no right or wrong answer. It’s all about what will work for YOU to make sure you cast your ballot.
3. Vote at home plan.
If you plan to at home by mail or absentee ballot, the most important thing to do this year is request your ballot now, follow directions carefully and return it as soon possible.
The rules about vote by mail vary by state – some send ballots to all registered voters, some require an application and others require an excuse. Vote Save America has a great tool you can use to get to know your state specific requirements and deadlines.
If you vote at home, consider your options for returning your ballot. You can return it by USPS, deliver it to a polling location or drop it in an official ballot drop box. Research your available options and decide what method works best for you.
If you return it by mail, make sure you have the correct postage, if necessary, and return it as early as possible. Plan to mail it by October 20, if possible.
4. Vote in person plan.
If you plan to vote in person, will you vote early or on Election Day?
Early voting is a good option if you want to avoid crowds. 41 states have early voting options so look up your voting dates and locations. Vote Save America has another great tool for this. You enter your address to identify voting dates and your specific polling location.
There is something very magical and traditional about voting in person on Election Day, so I understand if this is your preference. Make sure you confirm your polling location ahead of time. And don’t forget your ID!
But don’t stop there, think through the details. What time will you vote? How will you get there? Will you take your kids or do you need to arrange child care?
My Plan to Vote
Here’s my voting plan: I am voting early in person at my county Board of Elections office in Ohio on Saturday, October 24. It’s open from 8 AM until 4 PM and I plan to vote in the late morning before lunch. I will take my Ohio driver’s license and passport, to be safe. And, I am taking my 11 year old daughter. I can’t wait for her to be with me while I cast my vote!
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