Can't make it to your polling place on Election Day, Vote Absentee, it is simply the right thing to do!
If you are away from your home state or city, but you are registered to vote, then you can still vote. The key is to vote by the absentee voting method. There are many misconceptions about this, and sometimes people get confused by the details.
This article seeks to inform the average person how to use the system to make it work for you. Exercising your right to cast a ballot on candidates or issues is far too important not to participate. Every citizen 18 years of age or older should be voting, and all citizens benefit if more voters actually vote!
When voting absentee keep in mind what election you are voting in. If it is a municipal election for local candidates and issues, then you request a blank absentee ballot and file your completed ballot with your local municipal elections office (in Alaska, that's the municipal clerk). If the election is for state or federal candidates then you will request a blank absentee ballot and file your completed ballot with the state elections office. In Alaska, that is the Division of Elections, in the Lt. Governor's office. In some states, it is the secretary of state that runs elections. The organizational location of elections offices varies from state to state, but with the power of the Internet and this link:
You can find out how elections are organized in your home state, and which office or department you must contact to arrange absentee voting. A couple of clicks of the mouse and you can google up the address and phone number or email of whom to contact in your home state, county or town.
If you are not already registered to vote, you can also do that by internet and mail. Several web sites have information on how to do this in any state, as well as blank registration forms you can print out, fill out and mail in. They include Rock the Vote, www.rockthevote.org , and Declare Yourself, www.declareyourself.org . You need to register to vote at least 30 days prior to an election, but once registered, you stay registered for at least several years (and for the rest of your American life if you just keep on voting). The exception to the 30-day advance registration requirement is that for the offices of U.S. president and vice-president, you can both register and vote right on election day.
Who votes absentee and why?
Sometimes people have to be out of town, out of state, or even out of the country (for example, U.S. students away on an exchange program, or people overseas in the military or the Peace Corps). That is no reason not to vote. Governments have tried to respond to this situation by creating methods to allow voters to vote at another time more convenient for the voter in advance of the actual election day. Thus, they created absentee voting. The procedures vary from state to state or town to town, but the basic essence is the same everywhere, and it is as simple as 1,2,3.
- Contact the office that runs elections where you need to vote, and they will help you make the arrangements. Usually the process begins with their mailing you an application form to request an absentee ballot. When they receive your application, they will send you the ballot, with the instructions and time frames.
- Complete the ballot and send it back to them, by mail or FAX, however they allow. (FAXing becomes important for people who are overseas, because mail often takes too long.)
- Then the election office will seal your completed ballot in a secure location, and on election day, they will count it with the other ballots.
This method (absentee voting by mail) helps voters like persons serving in the military, or students away attending college, or persons who will be on vacation, in the hospital, a homebound senior citizen, or anyone unable to go to the polls on election day.
In Alaska, there is also a method called absentee voting in person. Here, the ballots are available for absentee voting 15 days prior to a state-managed election, and also some days before municipal elections. You just go to a designated absentee voting place and cast your ballot early. Those locations are always noticed in the local newspaper. If you cannot go to a polling place during that time, you can also file with the election office to vote by mail or fax, and they will send you a ballot in the mail. Just complete it and mail it back within the specified time frame, and you have just voted absentee and your vote will be counted! It is recommended that you apply early to vote absentee so you can cast a ballot in time for a general election.
The Internet is a wonderful tool, and with its power, we all have access to information with a few clicks of a mouse!
Please get out and vote this year. It is not that hard, and a little effort on your part can make a better world for all of us in the long run. Remember there have been elections where a single vote, or just a few votes, have determined the outcome. So just do it!
"I am only one. But still, I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do." ~Edward Everett Hale
Thank you for your time!