Originally published Aug. 19 on SheilaKennedy.net
There has rarely been an election where turnout and (as Paul Ogden has repeatedly reminded us) accurate counting of the ballots cast by the voters who do turn out, has been more important.
In recognition of that reality, a number of state and national efforts are being made to help people register and cast a vote: websites like Indiana Citizen, JustGoVote and a number of others — some, like that produced by NBC News, that are really impressive — have joined the official sites maintained by government agencies and the more established nonprofit sites like Ballotpedia.
There is no dearth of information and it is accessible to even the least “politically connected” voter.
That said, the recent state by state voting guide prepared by FiveThiryEight.com is one of the most comprehensive compilations I’ve seen. The “landing page” is color-coded, showing at a glance how difficult or easy it is to vote in each state, whether each state allows voting by mail, and if so under what circumstances (are excuses required? If so, what are they? Does fear of the pandemic count?)
For each state, the site’s text explains how to register, how to request and submit an absentee ballot, whether the state allows early voting, and whether the state plans to close polling places or otherwise make in-person voting more difficult. It also has a category called “what we’re watching.”
Here’s the information on Indiana’s page (without, however, the colorful graphics that make it both attractive and easier to read.) There is a similar page for every state.
Register to vote by Oct. 5. You can register online here.
Counties must offer early voting Oct. 6-9, Oct. 13-16, Oct. 19-24, Oct. 26-31 and Nov. 2. Counties may also offer it Oct. 10-12, Oct. 17-18, Oct. 25 and Nov. 1; check with local election officials for locations and the exact schedule in your area.
So far, no plans to close polling places have been announced.
Requesting an absentee ballot
In order to vote absentee, you must have an excuse, such as being age 65 or older, sick or out of town on Election Day. You can apply for an absentee ballot online here. Election officials must receive your application by Oct. 22.
Submitting an absentee ballot
Absentee ballots must be received by noon on Nov. 3.
What we’re watching
Indiana waived the need for an excuse to vote absentee in its June primary, but it may not do so in the general election. A pair of lawsuits are still pending that would allow anyone to vote absentee and extend the deadline by which ballots must be received.
Share the URL and share it widely, and then prepare to help friends and neighbors cast their ballots! Make sure they have the documentation required by our ridiculous “Voter ID” law, offer them a ride to the polls, call them the day before and again in the afternoon of November 3 … whatever it takes.
And if you want or need a reason to work harder than you ever did before to get SANE people to the polls, go listen to Nate Silver’s 2020 election forecast.
Sheila Kennedy is a Professor of Law and Policy in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. She's a Faculty Fellow with both the Center for Religion and American Culture in the School of Liberal Arts and the Tobias Center of the Kelley School of Business, and an adjunct professor of political science.