2020 US Elections

2020 US Elections: How can I request a mail-in ballot?

With millions of Americans expected to partake in the biggest mail-in vote in US presidential election history, here's how to request your mail-in ballot.

2020 US Elections: How can I request a mail-in ballot?
ROBYN BECK AFP

With the coronavirus still rampant across the United States, millions of Americans are preparing to cast their vote by mail in the upcoming November Presidential elections, which sees incumbent Donald Trump face off against former Democratic vice-president, Joe Biden.

At least three-quarters of all US voters will be eligible to receive a ballot in the mail for the election — the most in U.S. history, according to a New York Times analysis.

Mail-in ballots are favoured as a means to prevent further spreading of the coronavirus at polling stations, although President Trump is completely against the idea, claiming that voting by mail would lead to widespread voter fraud. However, many media outlets have maintained that the president’s claims are completely baseless.

The Unites States Postal Service (USPS) has said it requires billions in funding ahead of the November ballot to ensure it can deliver mail-in ballots on time. Trump had initially suggested last week that he was unwilling to put up the cash to fund the USPS, with many commentators highlighting that doing so would be a blatant attempt by the president to quash mail-in voting.

A few days later, Trump tracked back on his earlier comments, saying that he would be willing to approving additional funding for USPS if Democrats approve his coronavirus relief proposals.

As the two parties continue to debate USPS funding and the coronavirus bill, states are already preparing for the biggest mail-in vote in US history, with many relaxing restrictions on who is eligible to do cast mail-in ballots.

And while Trump is fiercely against the mail-in system, the president may not be able to stop millions of voters casting their ballot through the postal service, many of whom will do so for the first time.

Donald Trump protesters and supporters interact on August 17, 2020 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Trump brought his campaign to Wisconsin, on the same day as Democrats held their virtual National Convention in Milwaukee.

How to cast your 2020 US presidential vote by mail

The first step is registering to vote at Vote.org. The website also allows you to check your registration if you’re unsure if you are registered, locate your polling station, fill-out the 2020 census and set election reminders. (In order to be eligible to vote, you must be a US citizen over the age of 18 and you must have resided in your current state of residence for more than six months).

The next step is to request your ballot. This can be done by mail or by e-mail. Though the procedures can vary from state to state, so we recommend you visit the Vote.org site, where you will receive personalized information according to your location.

You can also locate your state’s official election office website to find out more about procedures specific to your state.

US presidential election ballots must be requested before mid-October

In most states, the ballot must be requested no later than the second week of October. Once the ballot is filled out, you must place it in the special envelope that will arrive with the ballot, which must be signed and dated. Remember, if the envelope is not signed, your vote will NOT be counted.

You should also consider the following to ensure your vote is counted:

  • Fill out the ballot correctly (if it says cross out -- cross out; do not fill in; otherwise it will be discarded)
  • Be sure to sign with the same signature that appears on your identification, as otherwise your vote will not be counted.
  • The ballot will have to be returned to the electoral offices of each state no later than November 3.