Voting in a pandemic

Your how-to guide

The election is upon us and, like many things this year, it’s going to look very different in light of the ongoing pandemic. But as big believers in civic engagement, we here at COVID Explained thought it may be helpful walk you through the general steps of voter registration and the special considerations you may want to take because of the pandemic.

How to vote lets you select your state, your registration status, and whether you are hoping to vote by mail or in-person. There are a number of similar websites out there, so feel free to use whatever you’re most comfortable with—this is the one our team likes.

A number of states (such as CA, CO, CT, DC, NH, NJ, WI) allow you to register in-person the day of the election and in many others, you can still register to vote online or by mail. A handy table of registration deadlines can be found here. The rules for your state’s rules on absentee ballots (better known as mail-in ballots) can be found here.

To see if early voting is a possibility for you and to find the start and end dates to vote early in your state, check here. An additional early voting calendar can be found here.

Voting early may mean that polls are less crowded than they’ll be on election day, which will likely be safer, which leads us into part two of today’s issue…

Recommendations for COVID-conscious voting

  • Find a way to vote. Strongly encourage all eligible voters you know to vote. Electing leaders who will respond appropriately to the pandemic and listen to scientists, epidemiologists/public health experts, and doctors is the best way to prevent nation-wide deaths and ensure your (and your family’s) health and safety.

  • If you’re in an at-risk population (e.g. if you have diabetes, are immunocompromised, or have any other risk factors for severe COVID), voting by mail is safest.

  • If you can, vote early and avoid election-day crowds. If that’s not possible, vote on election day and try to adhere to the following guidelines:

    • Our usual: close (especially prolonged) contact with large groups of people is the riskiest part of voting in the pandemic. The standard precautions apply: stay at least six feet away from other people, try to go to the polls at the least crowded time, wear a mask, sanitize and wash hands, etc.

    • Precautions specific to election day include the following: bring your own pen, wipe down the table in the voting booth, avoid taking stickers or pamphlets that would put you in close contact with other people. Implement as and when you can, depending on your local polling station’s setup.

Here’s all the same information summarized in an easy-to-read infographic. We hope you’ll share it to encourage your friends and family to vote, and to vote safely in the coning weeks:

Please feel free to share your thoughts, questions, and concerns — you can get a hold of us via email, TwitterInstagram, and the site itself.