A Voters' Calendar: Voting Season starts in August
Happy Independence Day Weekend! Can you believe that the 2020 General Election is only 4 months away? Do you feel informed and prepared about how to vote safely and securely?
Here’s a Voters’ Calendar for what has become, in reality, “Voting Season." It starts in August. This Voters' Calendar will stretch our civic attention span to make high-turnout elections a task that mere mortals can perform, not a superhuman feat that tests the endurance of even the most dedicated voters.
AUGUST is "Check Your Registration" month. Starting August 5th (90 days from November 3rd), it is federally illegal to make any new purges from the voter rolls. You can add registrations – you just can’t eliminate them. Therefore, starting August 5th, check your registration on your Secretary of State or county election websites.
Find your state/local election websites here: https://www.usa.gov/election-office
When you find your name and address are correct, take a screenshot and file it with time and date. (Google “How do I take a screenshot with my phone?”) Update any incorrect information with your state/local elections office. Only take the screenshot when it’s in order. If you don’t find yourself, re-register. Do this for voters who don’t have online access—starting with your family.
SEPTEMBER is "Order Your Mail Ballot" month. Maybe you think you won’t need a mail-in ballot. But what if you do? A delayed application could get caught in a paperwork tsunami (one lesson from recent primaries.) If you don’t get a mail ballot you’ve requested, complications will ensue. Order that mail-in ballot as soon as your registration is correct.
Follow the directions carefully. Some states let you apply entirely online. Others require that you print out the application, fill it in, sign it, and mail it. Unfortunately, every state has slightly different rules. Don’t procrastinate. You want to be early or near the front of this line.
OCTOBER is "Vote Your Mail Ballot Month" or "If You Want to Vote In Person, Keep it to Take With You Just in Case". Mail-in ballots get issued in October. Know when to expect yours. (See your state or county website.) If you don’t get your ballot, phone the elections office. Sometimes they can cancel the first one issued and send you another. If your state doesn't offer Mail/Absentee ballot voting, find out if there is Early Voting available and make flexible voting plans that fit your life and schedule.
When you do receive your mail ballot, either vote it ASAP or keep it, envelopes and all, in a safe place. Check local rules about where you can drop a voted mail ballot off in person. And check if your jurisdiction allows “surrender” of an unvoted mail ballot in person in exchange for a regular ballot. The vulnerability of the Postal Service, in hostile conditions, and with the coronavirus, worries us all. Help them by being early.
NOVEMBER is "Last Chance Month: The Endgame". If you vote on Election Day, you know to expect a line. Especially in a blue epicenter in a red state. If you didn’t get a mail ballot that you had requested, check your local rules to know what to expect in person. Maybe you can cancel your ballot to avoid provisional, maybe not. But VOTE. Persevere. Activists will observe the count, especially if the provisional numbers are high in vulnerable communities. Know the rules that protect you from the traps, and help educate others.
Enjoy your holiday weekend!
See Common Dreams for more on this.