NBC News has come out with a great interactive map that makes it easier for each of us to make a plan to vote. Voting procedures vary from state to state, but, by summarizing the answers to four time-sensitive questions, this map (which is actually 4 clickable maps) supplies nearly all the information voters need to commit to a workable, personal plan.
The map’s creators have done us a service by zeroing in on four crucial questions:
- Can I vote by mail without an excuse?
- Can I register to vote and cast my ballot on the same day?
- Can I vote in person before Election Day?
- After I vote by mail, can I track my ballot?
The different policies of the states with respect to these questions is somewhat shocking. Only some states allow mail-in voting without a reason, and a small number do not allow voting by mail merely on account of COVID-19. A handful of states still firmly in Trump’s column (such as South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana) have the most conservative policies.
Overall, though, I’m struck with how many states have greatly streamlined the voting process and made voting more convenient. (This goes hand in hand with enhanced election security in many states, a topic I hope to cover at a later date.) For example, over half the states offer a mail-in voting option with no strings attached (including several states which have gone over exclusively to mail-in voting). Several other states have recently modified their laws to accommodate voters’ legitimate fears over having to vote in person, while the risk of illness or death from COVID19 is still top of mind.
Only a minority of states allow residents to register and cast a ballot on the same day. As a prerequisite to voting, registration still demands that would-be voters think ahead and exercise initiative and responsibility. Happily, the NBC map includes a state-level voting guide with all the state-specific deadlines for registering in time.
The fourth question the map addresses (“After I vote by mail, can I track my ballot?”) may be decisive for many worried about the reliability of the Postal Service under the weasely Louis DeJoy. Most states offer tracking, so that you can be sure that your mail-in ballot arrived. Illinois doesn’t offer such a service, unfortunately.
Please take a moment to check out NBC’s wonderful “Plan Your Vote” map. I found it truly helpful. I hope you do, too.