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TEEN VOGUE: Vote By Mail in the 2020 Election: How to Do It and Why

This story was originally published by Teen Vogue.

The coronavirus pandemic will certainly affect the way in which we vote this year, but it will not stop us. Thanks to the use of mail-in ballots, it’s possible to vote without having to leave your house. Organizations like the U.S. Public Research Interest Group and Brennan Center for Justice say this method is safe, secure, and allows you to skip long Election Day lines.

Though the Trump administration has undercut efforts to prepare for a massive surge of requests in mail-in ballots, many millions of Americans are expected to rely on this method to vote in November.

To learn more about voting by mail, Teen Vogue got in touch with Virginia Kase, CEO of the League of Women Voters, and Mara Suttmann-Lea, assistant professor of American politics in the department of government and international relations at Connecticut College.

Why use this method?

Kase pointed to a number of benefits for voting by mail. As she put it in an email to Teen Vogue, “It is hands down the safest method of voting — especially as we continue to weather the COVID-19 pandemic. Voting by mail is also one of the most convenient options because it allows you to cast your ballot from the comfort of your home. You can pull up and research your candidates and ballot questions as you fill out your ballot from your couch! I voted by mail this past June for the first time and it was super easy — so easy that I’ll definitely be casting my ballot by mail again in November.”

As Suttmann-Lea added in an email to Teen Vogue, voting by mail “allows the voter the convenience of casting a ballot without having to navigate potentially long lines or vote at times that are inconvenient to them for work or family-related reasons. It also allows voters the chance to really sit down and consider the different items on their ballot, which in many states not only includes candidates for elected office, but complex ballot initiatives.”

“In the midst of the pandemic, the public health benefits of voting by mail are immense,” she added. “Social distancing can be especially challenging in polling places. Sometimes polling places are located in large gyms that have more airflow and ventilation. But they can also be located in church basements and smaller spaces with far less room. Voting by mail alleviates many of these public health concerns.”

How do you know if you can vote by mail?

To find out if you’re eligible, Kase suggests checking to review your state’s requirements (and keep in mind that voting by mail is often referred to as “absentee voting”). Each state has its own rules and regulations, which can be different than those specified for in-person voting. “Due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, many states have expanded their eligibility requirements for who can take advantage of vote-by-mail options,” Kase said. “Some states have even gone as far as mailing ballots directly to every registered voter. There are a few states that only permit senior citizens and Americans living abroad to vote absentee and [require] others [to] provide an excuse such as a disability or illness.”