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  • Voting absentee or by mail? How to track your ballot from start to finish

    If you’re like most Americans, you’re seriously considering voting by absentee ballot...

    ...instead of at the polling place in this year's primary and mid-term elections, if you haven’t already done so. Absentee voting, whether you live stateside or are one of millions of overseas voters, offers you the convenience of selecting candidates for office at the time of your choosing: after work, around the table with your family, or from your couch.

    No need to wait in line, and no time limits (as you might experience on Election Day or during early voting) as long as you mail in or place your voted ballot in a drop box by the deadline. Every state now offers absentee voting, with the majority permitting you to vote absentee without an excuse as to why you can’t physically make it to the polls.

    Once you’ve decided to vote absentee, here's how to track your ballot every step of the way.

  • How Ranked Choice Voting Gives Voters More Choices

    Every election cycle offers more reminders of the problems with our “first-past-the-post” voting method.

     

    In this spring’s primaries, we’ve seen numerous candidates nominated with a third of the vote or less – meaning two-thirds of primary voters chose someone else. We’ve seen candidates strategically drop out of races, fearing that they’d split votes with ideologically similar competitors and inadvertently help less preferable candidates if they stay in the contest. At the same time, we’ve seen plenty of sleepy, one-candidate, low-turnout “contests” across the country.

    Voters are either getting no choice at all, or so many choices that voting becomes a game of 3D chess. Our current system leaves us frustrated, feeling like our voices are not heard.

    Ranked choice voting (RCV) is a solution to these problems (and a few others). It does a better job of achieving the goals and ideals of democratic elections – it gives voters more choice and more voice, and results in fairer outcomes.

  • Can I Change My Mind as an Absentee Voter?

    Absentee voting provides ease and convenience for domestic and overseas voters alike.

    • Indeed, many registered voters, particularly since the pandemic, have opted for this method. A mail-in or absentee ballot allows you to vote at your leisure: You can fill out a mail ballot from the comfort of your home, and avoid lines during the early voting period or on Election Day.

    • States offering no-excuse absentee voting, moreover, offer it during both general elections and primary elections. And in many states, there’s still time to request a ballot, using an application form or federal post card application (FPCA) (for overseas citizens) through your local clerk’s office. Once completed, too, you can either mail it back, drop it off at a drop box, or return it in person to the county clerk, with some states permitting caregivers or family members to take it in for you.

    • That said, sometimes voters change their minds before the day of the election and decide they’d rather vote in person, even after having requested an absentee ballot. That shouldn’t become a barrier to voting. You may need a little help figuring out what to do. And each state has a different rule on the issue, so when in doubt consult your secretary of state’s rules. Below is a guide to voting in-person if you’ve changed your mind about that absentee or mail-in ballot.

     

  • How Ranked Choice Voting Changes the Voting Experience on Election Day

    Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is a voting method that permits citizens to rank candidates on the ballot in order of preference.

    The voter’s preferred candidate is marked as her first choice, and then the voter can mark the remaining candidates as being her second choice, third choice, etc., all the way down the entire list of candidates. A voter can also just list her first choice, or she can rank as many choices as there are candidates on a ranked choice ballot – it’s up to the individual voter.

     

    When ballots are counted, if no “first-choice” candidate wins a majority (over 50%) of the vote, election officials assess the remaining candidates’ votes in an “instant runoff” to identify the winning candidate. The tabulation process goes like this:

     

    • In the first round, the candidate with the most votes – let’s call her Candidate A – got 35% of the total vote. As Candidate A didn’t get a majority, the vote moves to a second tally. In that second round, the candidate with the fewest total votes is dropped – let’s call him Candidate B. If a voter’s ballot has Candidate B marked as their number one choice, that choice is eliminated and now the voter’s number two choice moves into their number one slot. If the voter picked Candidate A as her number two choice, that vote is now added to Candidate A’s total. But if the voter picked Candidate C, the vote goes into Candidate C’s column.
  • Felon Voting Rights: What You Need to Know About Voting After a Conviction

    Restoration of voting rights before the midterm primary and general elections

    We’re in the thick of primary election season! That’s when you get the chance to choose the candidate you’d like to see on the 2022 midterm election ballot this November. Voting requires forethought and planning, and if you have been convicted of a crime, or you are or were recently incarcerated, then you’ll need to do some extra research before register to vote and casting a ballot following restoration of rights.

     

    Felony disenfranchisement affects close to six million Americans, with Black Americans disproportionately impacted.

    • Restoration is a voting rights - and civil rights - issue.  Fortunately, many states are considering legislation to make registering and voting easier once you’ve completed a sentence (probation, prison, and/or parole) for a felony. Misdemeanors usually don’t impact your voting rights.
  • What You Need to Know About Absentee Ballot Notary and Witness Signature Requirements

    Each state has different rules regarding domestic absentee voting.  Some states impose additional requirements, like witness and/or notary signatures. We've got answers for you here.

    Absentee voting, either by mail or by placing a ballot in a drop box, is more popular than ever. In 2020, 65 million voters successfully cast absentee ballots – that’s more than the number of in-person voters! Absentee voting makes life easier. And it’s a secure way to vote. 

    • Most Americans, we’re happy to report, like voting absentee: according to the Pew Research Center, 65% of voters favor access to no-excuse absentee voting, meaning you could cast a ballot from home even if nothing was physically preventing you from getting to the polling place.

    • At U.S. Vote Foundation we learned through our 2020 post-election survey, that the vast majority of voters – domestic (95%), overseas (85%), and military (90%) – were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their absentee voting experience.

  • 2022 Primaries: Find Out if Ballot Drop Boxes are Available in Your State

    Ballot Drop Boxes are Safe and Easy to Use. Here’s How to Find Out If Voting by Drop Box is Available in Your State.

    The widespread ability to vote absentee using a ballot drop box is one of the innovative voting options that Americans were presented with in 2020. As a response to the need to maintain social distancing and avoid turning a long line at the polling station into a “super spreader” event, drop boxes were a huge success. They also proved very popular with busy voters who preferred in-person options for dropping off their ballots.

    In states that vote primarily by mail, ballot drop boxes have been around for years: What was innovative was the degree to which they were used, particularly as part of a plan to limit in-person voting by sending out large numbers of vote-at-home and absentee ballots to registered voters.

    The good news is that that the success of the ballot drop box in the 2020 general election will carry over into the currently ongoing 2022 primary elections and the midterm election in November.

  • Midterm Elections 2022: Ballot Return Options Chart

    How to return your absentee ballot without putting it into the mail?

    U.S. Vote Foundation has answers for you on our Ballot Return Options chart. Newly updated for the 2022 Midterm Election Year.

    • American voters enjoy options. This goes for how to vote - it could be voting in-person or early voting or absentee voting / vote-by-mail. As for absentee / mail voting, the post office is a an excellent option for you if you are mailing your ballot back with plenty of time for the post to deliver it to your election office.

    • But if you are late to return your ballot, or if you are the type of person that likes to know for sure that the ballot arrived in time, then you will be interested in the options available in your state for returning your ballot.

    • And the good news is that most states have options. U.S. Vote Foundation brings them to you through our Ballot Return Options chart.
  • Voting Terminology Made Easy: Everything You Need to Know to Vote in the Midterm Elections

    Voting terminology and rules can be confusing, so we’ve broken them down for you with our 411 on election information – everything from registration to the ballot box.

    It’s voting season! And for both the primary elections now rolling out and the midterm general election in November, you’ve likely got multiple options on how to cast your ballot, wherever you live.  Some states, like Colorado, offer every option under the sun on how to cast a ballot: in-person on Election Day, early voting and registration at vote centers, and vote by mail ballots sent to all registered voters. It’s a voter’s dream come true! Other states are more limited in their offerings. That’s why it’s essential to find out what your state offers.   

    Options – and confusion about what each state requires – can be somewhat daunting, especially if voting is a new experience for you. How can you vote? Where? And when’s the deadline? It’s a lot to get a handle on, but we at US Vote can help.

  • How to Vote In-Person: Voting Early or on Election Day 2022 Midterm Primary and General Election

    Primary election season is underway! And the November Midterm General Election will be here before you know it.  Many voted using a vote-by-mail ballot last election, due to the pandemic, but in-person voting remains an important option for upcoming elections in 2022. Many states expanded in-person voting options for this year and beyond.  

    Whether you vote in-person during your state’s early voting period or on Election Day - Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.  It’s important to get informed about your rights and responsibilities well before the big day. Voters in most states have the option of voting by absentee or mail-in ballot too.


    What are your options for in-person voting?

    Election Day

    No matter where you live, you can vote in-person on Election Day during both the primary and midterm elections.