November 3rd is election day this year, and there are several elections going on. Being in college, sometimes it’s hard to know how to vote when you’re not going to school in your voting district. During a pandemic, it’s also a little hard to know how to vote with all of the health risks.
If you want to vote by absentee ballot (or mail-in ballot), different states have different requirements. In Illinois, anybody can request an absentee ballot. During the 2020 election, Missouri is also allowing anybody to request a mail-in ballot to avoid the spread of COVID-19. For both states, you have to submit a request for the ballot.
In Illinois, your local election office must receive your request by October 29 this year. In Missouri, that deadline is October 28. You should send your request at least one week before the deadline, but sooner if you want to be safe.
This does not mean your local election office will count your vote by November 3rd. This is just the request for the absentee or mail-in ballot. Your local elections office will process the request and send you the ballot. Then, you will fill out the ballot and send it back. If you wait until the last minute to send in your requests, they will still count your vote, just not by election day.
Absentee voting rules for other states are listed at https://www.vote.org/absentee-voting-rules/.
You can get the request form at https://www.vote.org/absentee-ballot/.
You need to be registered to vote in order to request a ballot, and you can check your voter registration status at https://www.vote.org/am-i-registered-to-vote/.
If you are not registered to vote, you can register at https://www.vote.org/register-to-vote/.
Check your state’s registration deadline at https://www.vote.org/voter-registration-deadlines/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwhvf6BRCkARIsAGl1GGg30lz-vFgIuWmWVwLeskc_XcY4xEHnCyGplvrv_xkg2ilYlqH3fRgaArn7EALw_wcB.
If you want to vote in person, you still need to make sure you’re registered to vote. You can see the in-person registration guidelines in the last link listed above.
If you are registered to vote, you can look up your polling location at https://www.vote.org/polling-place-locator/.
Illinois and Missouri polling places are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. To look for another state’s polling hours, go to https://ballotpedia.org/State_Poll_Opening_and_Closing_Times_(2020).
A majority of poll workers tend to be people in the high-risk category for COVID-19. This is leading to a shortage in poll workers this year, and less poll workers means less polling places. This makes it more difficult for people to vote. If you’re interested in more information on how you can sign up, check out https://www.eac.gov/help-america-vote#section-sign-up. It is a paid position.