Even as record numbers of early voters turn out to cast their ballots before Election Day, many Americans don’t know they have that option or are confused about the rules.
If there’s the slightest chance that you’re not going to make it to the polls on Nov. 6, IBEW leaders are urging all members and the eligible voters in their families to vote early in person or request an absentee ballot right away.
“There’s a lot of speculation about what’s going to happen on Nov. 6 and a lot of polling that looks good for some pro-worker candidates, but none of that talk and none of those polls means a thing if people don’t vote,” International President Lonnie R. Stephenson said. “The only poll that matters is the election itself. We can’t take anything for granted.”
Early voting rules and deadlines vary by state, but you’ll find links to all of them are on this Ballotpedia page. Here’s an overview, illustrated by the map above:
- The 27 green states and Washington, D.C., allow unrestricted in-person early voting at polling locations typically set up in various county government buildings. You don’t need to supply any reason for voting early; simply cast your ballot.
- The 13 yellow states have absentee voting by mail only. Act now: deadlines to apply for an application are rapidly approaching. In Rhode Island, it’s already too late.
- In the seven purple states you can vote absentee in-person as long as you have a reason. Many people don’t know that they’re eligible. If you expect to be out of town, work long hours that could prevent you from getting to the polls on time, have health issues or other hurdles to voting on Election Day, simply indicate that on your paperwork at the polling location (usually a county government building).
- Oregon, Washington and Colorado are now entirely vote-by-mail. If you haven’t received a ballot, contact your county elections office.
A note about absentee and all mail ballots: follow the rules to the letter. Prepare the inner and outer envelopes precisely as directed, and sign your name exactly as it appears on your paperwork. If you’re registered as John Q Public Jr, that’s how to sign the security envelope. Don’t leave out a middle initial or suffix or alter your signature in any way. Some states are using any imperfection as an excuse to toss ballots out.
A surge in voter suppression is one of many reasons why making your voice heard before or on Election Day is so urgent. Whether it’s rights and safety on the job, the squeeze on household budgets as inflation outpaces wage growth, attacks on affordable health care and coverage for pre-existing conditions, anxiety about underfunded public schools and soaring college tuition, and much more, the future is on the line for workers and working families.
“I’m not going to mince words. Our country is headed in a dangerous direction for working Americans, and the people steering us there are more emboldened than ever,” Stephenson said. “It’s up to us to put on the brakes, and collectively our votes can do that.”