FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
At ProtectMyVote, we believe in your unalienable right to vote, and we want to make sure you have the tools and resources to make your vote count.
Why is ProtectMyVote.org needed?
ProtectMyVote.org is a one-stop-shop to find what you need to vote in your state. Due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, there have been a lot of changes to the way you may have voted in the past – and with more lawsuits filed, there may be more changes to come. We want to give you what you need to vote this year, and help you make decisions on the safest, surest way to make your vote count.
I’ve voted by absentee ballot before. Is mail-in voting (also known as vote by mail) the same as absentee voting?
No, absentee voting and vote-by-mail are two very different systems. To obtain an absentee ballot, voters must complete a ballot application or ballot request form, giving details like their date of birth, voter registration address, and/or the last four digits of their social security number. These details, as well as the voter’s signature, are compared to the voter’s registration record to make sure they match before the voter is sent a ballot. There are usually verifications on the ballot return envelope as well, most commonly a signature that is compared against the registration record and/or the application.
A vote-by-mail system does not offer these safeguards. States that use vote-by-mail automatically send a blank ballot to every registered voter on their rolls. Some states blend the vote-by-mail and absentee ballot systems, such as Arizona, in which voters can sign up as “permanent absentee,” and if they apply once, they will receive a blank ballot in the mail every year. Since states do not always communicate with each other on when residents move between states, some former residents remain on voter registration rolls in their old states, resulting in the potential for duplicate voting.
What changes have already occurred for voting in 2020?
The League of Women Voters and the ACLU sued Ohio to send blank ballots to every person on voter registration rolls;
Priorities USA, a Democratic superPAC, sued Pennsylvania to extend the absentee ballot deadline; and
Democratic attorney Marc Elias sued Georgia to legalize “ballot harvesting,” or allowing third parties to collect and deliver completed ballots to the Elections Office.
In other states, legislatures are moving to increase absentee ballot access because of the coronavirus. In South Carolina, for example, legislators passed a measure to allow every registered voter to vote absentee in the primary election. In North Carolina, absentee voters will only need to obtain one witness signature on their absentee ballot, instead of two. As three South Carolina Supreme Court justices said, these are not legal questions for the court but political questions for the legislature, and we can trust our elected officials to make those decisions.
I’ve heard that five states already conduct vote-by-mail with a lot of success. Why can’t we extend that to every state?
It’s true that five states do conduct all-mail elections – Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Hawaii, and Washington. But these states have had many years – in most cases, decades – to hone and perfect their vote-by-mail systems, and even before implementing them, all had high percentages of voters using mail-in ballots.
By comparison, most states have tiny percentages of people who vote using mailed absentee ballots. And in their 2020 primaries, when those states tried to implement an enormous mail-in apparatus, their systems cracked under the pressure:
- In Wisconsin, voters waited weeks for their absentee ballots to arrive after completing request forms – and some never did.
- In Ohio, the Post Office delivered hundreds of completed ballots so late that they did not count in the primary election.
- And in Georgia and Nevada, the state’s decision to close hundreds of polling places in favor of mail-in voting resulted in some voters standing in line for up to 5 hours.
Even the five states with all-mail systems are skeptical that their counterparts could solve these problems in the few short months before the November general election.
I want to make sure my vote is counted, but I’m worried about coronavirus. Are there any steps my state’s elections offices can take to make in-person voting safe?
Yes! States are already taking steps to make sure that polling places are ready for in-person voting in November.
- Texas’ Secretary of State issued an 8-page recommendation on how polling places can utilize social distancing, hand sanitizer, curbside voting, and other protocols to promote safe in-person voting.
- Iowa has already implemented curbside voting via “PollPads,” which are iPads that voters can use to check themselves in using their driver’s license.
This kind of state-led innovation is our country’s best asset in making sure your vote is protected.
think mail-in voting is problem free? think again.
“More mail ballots were misdirected and unaccounted for than the margin of votes between Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump. She had 2.9 million more votes, yet 6.5 million ballots were misdirected or unaccounted for by the states.” – Hans Von Spakovsky
in new mexico:
“Our [voter] rolls are really
not maintained to the level that
is appropriate for the institution
of vote by mail.”
– Carter Harrison, attorney