Request Your Ballot Day, initiated by nonpartisan organization When We All Vote, marks an important milestone in ensuring eligible voters participate in November’s election.
On Thursday, Sept. 10, When We All Vote and its partners are taking to social media to raise awareness for mail-in voting. By helping voters request ballots far in advance, they hope to encourage Americans to take advantage of absentee voting rights during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The initiative follows weeks of speculation regarding the efficacy of mail-in voting, especially as USPS continues to report increasing delays and decreasing resources. Recent cost-cutting measures such as removing postal boxes and reducing post office hours were heavily scrutinized—especially given that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is a known supporter and donor of President Donald Trump.
Even though these seemingly suppressive changes were supposedly suspended in mid-August, the Postal Service has already warned 46 states and D.C. that millions of voters could face disenfranchisement if their ballots aren’t delivered on time.
Additionally, Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, says mail continues to be delayed and there hasn’t been a “deep change” as a result of DeJoy’s promised suspension of changes.
The goal of Request Your Ballot Day is to reduce the risk of ballots being mailed in at the last minute and overwhelming the Postal Service.
Even in the midst of USPS concerns, many states have expanded mail-in access for the upcoming election to accommodate those who are uncomfortable going to the polls. This year, nine states and D.C. will automatically mail ballots to all registered voters, and 34 states will allow absentee voting without an excuse. These 43 states, plus D.C., account for 78 percent of voters, meaning more people are eligible to vote absentee than in any prior election in U.S. history.
Although some states are open to extending the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots, others don’t have the same flexibility. As a result, mailing ballots far in advance is crucial to ensuring that they’re counted by Nov. 3. Many Americans are encouraging their peers to vote two weeks before the election, and by Oct. 22 at the latest, using #VoteByOct22 to spread the word.
“If you haven’t registered to vote yet, do it now. Don’t think about it. When your ballot comes with enough lead time, make a decision and send it in. That’s one thing you can do to not overwhelm the system,” Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson told CNN.
In some states, voters can even track their ballots after they’ve mailed them. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said ballot tracking systems are “great for transparency, great for accountability and great for confidence in vote by mail.”
When We All Vote is encouraging voters to visit its Voter Resources Hub, where they can request ballots or apply to vote absentee. Depending on the state, mail-in ballots can also be turned in via drop box or at a local elections office, which eliminates any risk of disenfranchisement due to mailing delays.
Participate in Request Your Ballot Day by visiting When We All Vote’s Voter Resources Hub and posting on social media to encourage others to be proactive. Use the hashtag #RequestYourBallotDay and tag @WhenWeAllVote. Head here for advice on how to make sure your ballot gets counted.