Midterm elections are underway, and on November 6, millions of people across the nation will cast their ballots.
In the words of Cardi B, “We need to vote so we can change our community, we need somebody that’s going to represent us — that’s going to protect us.” However, navigating complex election laws and overcoming voter suppression has some of us asking "how Sway?!"
Black and Latinx voters are more likely to face barriers at the polls, because voter suppression is a very real obstacle. According to The Atlantic, multiple academic studies and court rulings indicate that racially biased election laws leaves America’s democratic promise unfulfilled. Given the controversy surrounding past elections, it’s understandable that voters have major trust issues with our election process. Despite having much at stake this election, younger voters might still be skeptical about whether or not their votes will actually matter, especially considering the FBI's investigation into the 2016 presidential election results.
Every vote counts this election, as it does in every election. With voter turnout being so critical in the midterm elections, it’s important that every vote is accounted for. This is why having a comprehensive understanding of where and how to vote is so important.
To avoid vulnerability to voter suppression and voter purges, voting by mail via an absentee ballot is a great solution, especially for college students and other millennials. This particular demographic has the potential to be the power bloc in November elections, and voting by mail is especially helpful and convenient for those college students or other millennials, who may live in a different state than the one they were initially registered in.
There are other alternatives for registered voters that live too far away from the specific polling location they were initially assigned to.Those who are unable to vote at their designated polling place can submit a provisional ballot. Unlike a regular ballot, provisional ballots are for voters whose voter eligibility has been brought into question. Votes cast using a provisional ballot aren’t counted or verified until after the election.
Voting by mail provides the opportunity to safely cast your vote, regardless of where you live. It also eliminates the confusion about where to vote, and takes away the pressure of racing to a polling location in time on Election Day. Not only is voting by mail simple and convenient, it’s smart. When you vote by mail, you have the chance to spend more time with your ballot, and research all the candidates who hope to earn your support. Having an opportunity to think critically about who to vote for and why is extremely beneficial for young voters, who may be voting for the first time.
At least 22 states provide registered voters with the option to cast their ballots entirely by mail. The vote-by-mail process has already begun in some states like California, Georgia and Illinois. Some states, like Oregon and Washington, conduct mail-only elections, and send ballots to every registered voter two weeks before Election Day. Other states require voters to apply to vote by mail, or make a request for a mail-in ballot online first.
To vote by mail, simply:
- Request and/or apply for a ballot to be mailed to you from your state’s Secretary of State website.
- Fill out the ballot upon arrival.
- Seal the completed ballot and return by mail before your state's given deadline.
When voting by mail, it’s important to completely fill out the form correctly, so the ballot is not rejected. Errors made while voting in-person can be quickly resolved, but errors made by mail are irretrievable.
To make sure your mail-in ballot isn’t rejected, be sure to:
- Completely list your full address.
- Sign with a clear signature.
- Have a witness signature.
- Mail before the deadline.
Voting allows Americans to collectively determine who the decision makers will be, and it’s a privilege we must take seriously. For those in the youngest voting demographic, the decisions made in the present will inevitably have the greatest impact on their future. With so much at stake, don’t wait until the last minute to make your voting plan. Keep it simple and vote-by-mail.
To learn more about how to vote by mail in your state, click here.