(TargetLiberty.org) – The coronavirus has had an impact on just about every aspect of American life, including voting. With primary elections being postponed in many states, more people than ever want to know how absentee voting works. In fact, some states are urging people to vote by absentee ballot rather than leave their homes. These are the steps you’ll need to take in order to cast an absentee ballot.
Register to Vote
The first step, whether you’re voting by mail or voting in person, is to register to vote. Most states allow you to register online. For those that don’t, you’ll need to download this form and mail it in. Be sure to check your state’s government website and follow any additional required steps.
You can also register to vote in person at various locations throughout your state or county such as the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), state or local election office, armed forces recruitment center, or state and county public assistance offices.
Requesting an Absentee Ballot
The exact rules for absentee voting vary by state. To vote by mail, you need to request an absentee ballot by contacting your state election office. You can also begin the process online.
Seventeen states require you to have a reason for why you need to vote by absentee ballot. For example, having a disability or injury that makes it difficult to get to the polls is one potential reason. Being out of town, whether you’re on vacation or attending college in another state, are also considered valid reasons to vote by mail.
However, with the coronavirus continuing to sweep across the nation and several shelter-in-place orders, rules are changing. Multiple states chose to postpone their primary elections amid the outbreak. Due to the need to practice social distancing, absentee voting is looking like it’ll be the only option in some states this year.
Deadlines for Absentee Voting
Deadlines for absentee ballots also depend on the state you live in. With elections postponed, the deadlines may have already changed and may change again in the future.
Also, be sure to take note of both the deadline to request an absentee ballot and the deadline to submit your vote, they’re different. You can find an overview of the rules for absentee voting online at vote.org, but you will get the most complete information from your state’s election website.
The New Normal
Social distancing is the best weapon we have to fight the coronavirus outbreak right now. That means absentee voting is the safest way for people to vote until the outbreak is under control or a vaccine is developed. Unfortunately, this may not happen as fast as we’d like.
Once Americans find out how easy it is to vote by mail, they may not want to go back to standing in long lines to cast their ballot. It’s quite possible that absentee voting may become the new normal. For now, it’s more than just a good idea; it’s safe.
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