COVID-19 and Patient Voting
Keep checking back for the latest updates on COVID-19 as it pertains to patients voting from the hospital or from home quarantine.
Voting Process Changes:
There are several voting changes that have been made across all 50 states in order to increase accessible voting options for all voters amidst social distancing guidelines. These changes are summarized below and are tracked within the spreadsheet in this page.
1) Delaying voter registration deadlines: Some states have extended their voter registration deadline. Being registered as a voter is a prerequisite to utilizing all of the following changes, so please make sure that you are registered!
2) Expanded earlier voting options: Some states have expanded polling locations and timelines for voting in-person before Election Day. If you have concerns about your schedule on November 3rd, you may utilize such a process to cast your vote well before Election Day.
3) Expanding absentee voting eligibility: Over 30 states are "no-excuse absentee voting" states, where no condition or specific requirement is needed by a voter in order to request an absentee ballot. Another 5 states are "universal vote-by-mail" states, where all registered voters are mailed a ballot. The remaining states normally require an "excuse" to be provided for obtaining an absentee ballot, such as being above a certain age. However, many such states have relaxed their absentee requirements to either a) allow all voters to request an absentee ballot or b) allow voters to cite social distancing or concerns over COVID-19 as a valid condition to obtain a ballot.
4) Mailing absentee ballots or absentee ballot applications to all registered voters: Some states that are normally not universal vote-by-mail states are mailing absentee ballots or absentee ballot applications to all voters, due to COVID-19. If you are a registered voter, you will be automatically mailed your ballot or ballot application. Some states
5) Witness and/or notary signature requirements: Around 10 states require voters to obtain a mandatory signature from a witness (or in some cases, multiple witnesses) or a public notary in order for their absentee ballot to be verified. However, due to challenges obtaining signatures presented by COVID-19, some states have either relaxed or removed these requirements.
6) Extended deadlines for the receipt of absentee ballots: Some states have loosened the deadline by which absentee ballots must arrive at your appropriate election office in order to be counted. In some states, your ballot may still be counted even if it arrives days after Election Day. Please note that these requirements usually have both a deadline that your ballot must be postmarked by (ex. on Election Day or the day before Election Day) and a deadline your ballot must be received by, both of which you must ensure to meet.
7) Emergency absentee voting processes: In some cases, emergency absentee voting has been impacted by COVID-19-related election changes like the closure of county election offices or the temporary suspension of in-person ballot delivery teams due to hospital visitation restrictions. However, many states have come up with inventive solutions to preserve emergency voting amidst COVID, such as involving healthcare workers in emergency voting processes.
NOTE: All of these changes are actively evolving due to pending legislation or judicial challenges. Whenever in doubt over a certain change on this page, please do not hesitate to consult your state's Board of Elections website or reach out to the relevant officials in order to get the most up-to-date information on voting in the time of COVID-19.
Here is to a safe time voting.
Patient Voting's Pointers for Absentee Voting:
1) The most common reason that absentee ballots are rejected is due to the ballot arriving late. As a result, despite some states extending deadlines for ballot arrival, please leave yourself ample time to a) apply for your ballot and b) return your filled-out ballot.
2) Your absentee ballot may also get rejected for reasons like your signature on the ballot not matching up to your signature in voter records. Some states have online portals that actively allow you to track the status of your ballot and even potentially "cure" your ballot if it has been rejected for a certain reason. Turning in your ballot does not automatically mean your vote will be counted so please be vigilant about tracking the approval status of your absentee ballot!
3) There are several ways you may return your ballot that vary on a state-by-state basis, from returning it to your county election office in-person, delegating this task to an agent if you are confined, mailing your ballot, or dropping off your ballot in a state-approved "drop box."
4) Please double-check and triple-check all guidelines related to the approval of your absentee ballot, including relevant places to sign your ballot, any additional signatures (ex. witnesses) you may need to obtain, and other areas regarding the preparation of your ballot (ex. ensuring that it is not a "naked ballot" in states that require your ballot to be put in a special envelope.
5) All of the guidelines in this page are actively evolving so when in doubt over a new change that may not be reflected on this page, please do not hesitate to reach out your local County Clerk or county Board of Elections employee!