Political Awareness: How to Vote By Mail & Make Sure It Counts

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Story submitted by Zach

Voting by mail is a right for all Americans, and because of you and your service members’ sacrifices, you can also vote in whatever state is your “home of record.” Voting by mail is safe and secure if handled properly. But with recent headlines about our postal system, I understand there is a lot of confusing information out there.

Here are some helpful hints on how to vote by mail and make sure it counts:

Filling Out Your Absentee Ballot

So in my last edition of “Being an Politically Aware Military Spouse,” I provided information on how to request an absentee ballot. If you haven’t done it yet, please go do it today. Once you request your ballot it’s now time to fill it out, once you select the candidates you will vote for. You must then fill the affidavit and make sure your signature matches your ID. This is not always important but, in some states, officials will void your ballot and inform you that your signature did not match their records. Therefore, it is important to send in your ballot as soon as you receive it.

Sending In Your Ballot

For military and American voters overseas, federal law specifies that ballots can be returned to election officials using a free postage-paid symbol when mailed from a U.S. Post Office.  If you want to track your ballot in the mail you can take it to the post office and send it first class for a few dollars, but it may be worth it.

Ifyou want to deliver your ballot to your local Voters Registration office you may do so depending on your state, so you may want to give your local office a call to confirm. With COVID-19 there may be special restrictions or rules this election cycle.  

Tracking Your Ballot

Did you know you can track your ballot? Most states have a website where you can track if your ballot has been received, but keep in mind there is usually a delay. And if you mailed it for free with a postal stamp, it might not be trackable. Personally, I like to call my local registrar’s office and ask them to check If they don’t have it after a week,  you may want to print it out again and send it first class. If you didn’t get it by email and you didn’t make copies, then ask your local voters’ offices how you can get a new one because each state is different.

Also keep in mind voters office typically accept military ballots up to seven days after an election, so those aren’t counted until later.  

I hope you find these tips to be helpful as you vote this November! It is your duty to vote and personally your responsibility to help choose who your service members next Commander-In-Chief will be.  If you have any questions, please comment below! When in doubt, you should contact your local voter’s office for specific questions. Remember this is what they get paid to do, so call them as many times as you need. Or you can be like me and talk to them so many times they know you on a first name basis.

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