You can vote in several different ways. Knowing your options—and which one works best for you—is crucial, especially if you are attending school in a different state than where you are registered.
Here we address some commonly asked questions and provide resources to help you complete this most essential step of democracy.
Making a plan to vote and ensuring that you are registered are required to complete the Science Rising challenge.
I won’t be in the area where I’m registered to vote on Election Day. Can I still vote?
Yes! There are several ways you can cast your ballot if you are unable to go to a polling place on Election Day, including early voting and voting absentee (usually voting by mail ahead of Election Day).
The specific rules and deadlines vary widely by state, however, so it’s essential that you research and know the know the details that are relevant to you.
I can’t make it to my polling place on Election Day but will be around in the weeks beforehand. Can I vote early in person?
In many states, yes. Early voting begins anywhere from two to six weeks ahead of Election Day depending on the state. If you will be in the area ahead of Election Day, you can look up if and when your state has early voting. If so, you can go to a polling place during early voting hours and cast your vote in person.
I’m around on Election Day! How do I find my polling place?
Find your polling location here. Remember it may have changed since you last voted!
What if I can’t get to my polling place on Election Day or for early voting?
If you are unable to vote in person, you can send an absentee ballot by mail. Every state offers absentee voting as an option, but the requirements and deadlines vary by state, so it’s important that you pay special attention to your state’s rules. To vote absentee in most states, you will need to request an absentee ballot before the deadline.
In 2020, some states will conduct all-mail elections, where all registered voters receive a ballot in the mail. Voters fill it out, then mail it in or drop it off. The difference between all-mail elections and absentee voting is that all-mail elections send every registered voter a ballot automatically by mail.
How do I vote absentee?
Some states are leaders when it comes to absentee voting and all-mail elections, while others make it more difficult to obtain an absentee ballot. For more information, this student voting guide map provides state-by-state information and resources on the types of voting methods your state offers.
To vote absentee, you’ll first need to fill out an application to request an absentee ballot. You’ll then be sent a ballot to fill out and mail in or drop off. Deadlines vary by state, so be sure to be check the dates for your state. Vote.org provides a comprehensive absentee voting resource with relevant deadlines by state and an easy-to-use form to request an absentee ballot.
Bonus points: Schedule a reminder on your phone or calendar to request an absentee ballot by your state’s deadline!
I’m going to be overseas during the election, can I still vote?
Yes, you can still vote even if you’re a student spending a semester abroad. Learn more about the process. Be aware, however, that all states and territories require you to fill out a Federal Post Card Application before they will mail a ballot outside of the US.
It seems like there are a lot of rules for each state…
Yup. If you want to learn more about voting rights in your state, you can find out how your state stacks up in terms of protecting people’s right to vote.
OK! I’m registered to vote and have a plan in place to vote! Now what?
Well done. You have completed the prerequisites for participating in the Science Rising Challenge. You can complete the challenge by doing one additional challenge activity of your choosing. Once you’re done, let us know and we’ll send you a cool button recognizing your achievement!