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How to Vote This November

by Eleanor Withers

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash.

With the U.S. Presidential election coming up on Nov. 3 and a global pandemic happening simultaneously, it can be difficult to find the correct information to make sure that your vote counts. Here are some helpful facts, instructions, options, and links to make the important process of political participation a bit easier to navigate.  

Need help registering to vote? Have you changed your permanent address, changed your name, or changed your political party, or need to update your voting ballot for any other reason? The deadline to do so is Oct. 19.  

To apply or update your information, you can print a voting registration form to send to your county elections office here, or fill out the form online here.

Want to know where your polling place is? Click here.

If you are a registered voter and do not wish to vote in person at the polling place on Nov. 3, you can receive your ballot in the mail and send it or deliver it to your county election office by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. Unlike absentee ballots, you do not need a reason as to why you aren’t voting in person. 

Due to the pandemic, six states are switching to an all-mail voting system, only 16 states require some sort of reasoning to apply for absentee voting, and the rest of the U.S. (including Pennsylvania) offers in-person voting, as well as mail-in, with no reasoning necessary.  

Though there is some distrust in voting authenticity in the U.S., a 2017 study by the Brennan Center for Justice found that voting fraud overall in the U.S. is less than .001%. Heritage Foundation found that states that have relied on mail-in voting in the past, like Oregon, have reported only 14 fraudulent votes attempted by mail since 2000.  

Applications for mail-in ballots must be at the county elections office by Oct. 27 at 5 p.m., so if you’re sending it through mail, allow at least a week before the deadline to ensure it arrives on time.  

Click here to sign up to receive a mail-in ballot in Pennsylvania. 

If you are a college student from out of state and know you are going to be away from your typical polling location, have a physical disability or illness that prevents you from going to the polling place, or are a member of the military, then you can file to receive an absentee ballot this election.  It is a similar form to the mail-in ballot form, and the deadlines are still the same.  You need to be a registered voter prior to filling out this form. 

You can apply for an absentee ballot here 

Suffragette Susan B. Anthony encouraged voters to participate by saying “someone struggled for your right to vote. Use it.”  

As National Geographic puts it, “your vote may not directly elect the president, but if your vote joins enough others in your voting district or county, your vote undoubtedly matters when it comes to electoral results.”

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