natural disaster image fire on lush hillside with helicopter above

Casting Your Ballot When Disaster Strikes

Wildfires blazed across the island of Maui on August 8, 2023, and eventually became the deadliest natural disaster in Hawaiian history. Dozens of lives were lost and still more are missing. Lahaina, a renowned historic town saw homes, businesses, and notable landmarks flattened. Months later, thousands of citizens remain displaced and reside in temporary Red Cross housing.

Sadly, natural disasters can happen at any time, anywhere in the United States. Fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. can leave unsuspecting communities turned upside down. During these incredibly difficult times, citizens typically band together and focus on their safety and providing basic needs for one another. An election might not be someone’s top priority if they were recently involved in a disaster, however there are several simple ways to cast your ballot when life has thrown you a curve ball and voting on Election Day at your polling place is not an option.


  1. Request an Absentee Ballot

Check out the deadline for your next election in our Elections Dates and Deadlines guide. If you have a physical address to have your ballot sent to, and depending on your state’s deadline, you may still have time to request a ballot be sent to you via mail.


  1. Same Day Registration and Voting

Should you still need to register to vote, many states offer a period of Same Day Registration and Voting leading up to Election Day. During this time, you can head to a designated location where you will be able to register and cast your ballot at the same time. Check out our Elections Dates and Deadlines guide to see if Same Day Registration and Voting is offered in your state.


  1. Early Voting

If you are unable to make it to your polling place on Election Day, many municipalities offer a period of time just prior to the election where, as a registered voter, you can walk in and vote as you would on Election Day. This is called Early Voting and it may take place in a location other than your designated polling place, so check with your Local Election Official before heading out to vote.


  1. In-Person Absentee Voting

Similar to Early Voting, with In-Person Absentee voting, municipalities who offer this option allow for a period of time when as registered voter, you can head to a designated location, request an absentee ballot, and vote on the spot. Check out our Elections Dates and Deadlines guide to see if In-Person Absentee Voting is offered in your state and contact your Local Election Official for specific locations.


  1. Emergency Ballot Period

The Emergency Ballot Period is typically reserved for someone who encounters a medical emergency within the last few days prior to an election. With an emergency ballot, some states offer ballot delivery, some allow for use of a proxy, and some offer extended submission deadlines. Check our Elections Dates and Deadlines guide to see if your state offers an Emergency Ballot period.


If none of these situations work for you, feel free to contact us at the Voter Help Desk. We would be glad to discuss your individual situation and work out the best voting plan for you!

Also, don’t hesitate to contact your local election official, which you can find here in our Local Election Official directory. They will point you in the right direction and are always happy to hear from their constituents!