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Who can and can't vote in the 2020 US Election?

Election Day looms with disinformation floating around trying to suppress the vote, voters are left to wonder whether or not they can legally cast a ballot.

Election Day looms with disinformation floating around trying to suppress the vote, voters are left to wonder whether or not they can legally cast a ballot.
Michael M. SantiagoAFP

Just two days until Tuesday 3 November when voters will have their last chance to cast a vote in the 2020 US Election. President Donald Trump has made questioning the validity of the outcome, what votes should count and who can cast them a pilar of his campaign drawing accusations of trying to suppress the vote.

President Trump has been outspoken in his attacks on mail-in ballots with unsubstantiated claims that they are prone to fraud. Among his claims he has used an anecdote about a friend of his whose son had tragically passed away but received a voting card. More recently that votes for him in Philadelphia were thrown out. These tactics are not new to Trump, in the past he said illegal immigrants were pouring over the border to vote en masse for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and said busloads of out of state voters were driven to New Hampshire to cast illegal votes in 2016.

In previous elections Republican voters have taken advantage of mail-in ballots in larger numbers than their Democrat compatriots so Republican politicians seeing that it was suppressing their own voters tried belatedly to encourage the use of mail-in ballots. Michigan’s Secretary of State and Eric Holder have now advised against sending a ballot by mail as there is no longer enough time as Republicans in various states are fighting to block the counting of ballots postmarked before the election but that arrive after Election Day from being counted which has been a normal practice in some but not all the states.

Trump uses this strategy mostly to raise question marks if he loses but it also makes some people question their own right to vote. This muddying of the waters has been successful for Trump in the past and has led us to a post-truth world, nobody knowing what is actually true and what is a lie.

So who can vote in the presidential elections in 2020?

The best place to check is the government's own website. If you are 18 years old on or before election day, you can vote for the outcome of the presidential elections in 2020. In almost every state, you can register to vote before you turn 18 if you will be 18 by Election Day according to the government website. See a table of voter registration age requirements by state.

If you are homeless, you are allowed to vote. In all 50 of the United States, you can register to vote if you are experiencing homelessness.

Most states have some duration of residency requirements for voter registration – for example, having resided for 30 days or more before the Election Day in the state or county. Contact your local elections officials to find out what the rules are in your state.

Who can't vote?

If you have a felony, you can't vote in some states but you should check your state's laws on this. Again, depending on the state, some people who ar mentally incapacitated are not allowed to vote. Check your state's laws on this issue. For example, in some states, you can not vote if you are declared an idiot or legally incompetent or legally insane.

You can also not vote if you are not a citizen of the United States even if you are a permanent legal resident.


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