Voting Is Not Enough: Know Your State’s 2020 Voting Rules & Voting Best Practices & Help Others

Know_the_rules_and_vote_asap.pngAs of the publishing of this episode (Sept. 15th), there are exactly 49 days until Election Day. That’s 7 weeks. Less than 2 months.

To make sure every one of those days to count, we’ve launched our 2020 Election Action Guide, which we’re calling “Voting Is Not Enough.” Because…it’s just not.

From now until election day, we’ll be highlighting different ways you can be spending time and/or money to support a free and fair election, as well as Democrats down the ballot and all the way up to the Biden-Harris ticket. All of this information can be accessed from the “Voting is Not Enough” banner at, or directly at Action.

As you’ve heard today, the Republican attacks on the United States Post Office are nothing new. But in an election year, with an authoritarian wannabe as president and a pandemic gripping the nation, these attacks have reached a new level with dire consequences for democracy.

By design, damaging the Post Office not only puts more of the burden on the voter to figure out the best way to vote, but also forces them to weigh their personal health risk. The resulting voter suppression should not be underestimated. While many will vote no matter what, millions of people are feeling overwhelmed.

That’s why it is critical to understand and share the resources that make the new 2020 rules and voting options as clear and concise as possible. The statistical analysis publication, FiveThirtyEight, has put together a regularly-updated project called “How to Vote in the 2020 Election.” It color codes each state by how easy or difficult it is to vote by mail, then you can click on each state to instantly see everything form the voter registration deadline, to early voting information, to how to request a ballot, to how to vote in person. It also provides a brief summary with links on any pending lawsuits related to voting and notes whether any plans to close polling places have been announced. New rules in place for 2020 are noted so you can easily see what, if anything, has changed.

But even if you know all of the rules, there are still some best practices to follow:

#1: If you are planning to vote absentee, request your ballot NOW. Do not wait one more second. The ballot will be mailed to you, so you must factor in not only delays, but the unfortunate possibility that you never receive the ballot at all. You’ll need time to re-request one or find out if you can pick up the ballot at your local election office.

#2: When you get your absentee ballot, do not wait to vote. Time is of the essence, but be sure you follow your state’s absentee ballot rules to the letter. There are many reasons a ballot could get rejected, like you forgot to sign it, or your signature doesn’t match the one on file, improper marking, or the ballot arrives too late. The Associated Press reported just last week that absentee ballot rejections could triple in battleground states because voters who usually vote in person are unfamiliar with the absentee ballot rules. So, be methodical!

#3: Find your local drop boxes. If you are concerned about relying on the Post Office - and that’s a valid concern - go to your state’s secretary of state website or call your local election office to find out the location of ballot drop boxes. During the primaries, these boxes were often located at local city halls, but more rural areas may have more options.

#4: Track your ballot. Most states provide a way to track your ballot online and see if it has been received and accepted. The sooner you submit your absentee ballot, the sooner you will know wether or not your vote counted and the more time you’ll have to try to resolve any issues that may arise. To find the tracker, first find your state or local election office

And finally, voting in person is still an option (find your polling place). Experts are saying that as long as safeguards are in place - like mask requirements, 6 feet distance rules, and frequent wiping down of surfaces - your risk is relatively low and about the same as a trip to the grocery store. However, this is America and the sad fact is that you cannot always rely on your fellow citizens to abide by the health rules. Additionally, if we don’t have enough poll workers and polling places, lines could be extremely long. We say all this not to discourage you, but to help you make an informed decision and to help you help others in your life as well.

So, if making sure every vote is accepted and counted is important to you, be sure to spread the word about Knowing Your State’s 2020 Voting Rules & Voting Best Practices via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.



Explore and share the "How to Vote in the 2020 Election" Project (FiveThirtyEight)

Remember & Share These Voting Best Practices: 

1. Request your absentee ballot ASAP! RIGHT NOW! 

2. When you have your ballot, vote ASAP but follow ballot rules to the letter to avoid rejection!

3. If you don't want to mail your ballot, find local ballot drop boxes through your state's Secretary of State website or by calling your local election office. Find my state or local election office

4. Track your ballot online to ensure it was received and accepted! To find the tracker, first find your state or local election office

Voting in person is still an option, but be prepared for people to disobey health rules, and for long lines and reduced polling places. Find your polling place


Voter Registration Deadlines (

Voting by mail in a pandemic: A state-by-state scorecard (Brookings)

How to Vote by Mail in All 50 States (Vice)

The Most Important Mail You'll Ever Send: A Ballot (NPR)

In battlegrounds, absentee ballot rejections could triple (AP)

A white person and a Black person vote by mail in the same state. Whose ballot is more likely to be rejected? (NBC News)

If You Can Grocery Shop in Person, You Can Vote in Person (The Atlantic)


Posted September 15, 2020; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1367: The Post Office and the Census, Unmaking the American Institutions That Most Bind Us Together

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