The Early (Or Absentee!) Bird Gets the Vote
Some may argue that the 2020 election is currently happening. Why is that? In fact, over 4 million voters have already cast ballots for this year’s election, and upwards of 50 million people are projected to cast ballots at locations other than voting booths. Vermont will likely have a strong showing of absentee/early voters, as over 150,000 voters chose to vote away from the polling place in the 2020 primary (Valley News). This can be in the form of either absentee voting or early voting. Absentee voting often requires an excuse and is typically utilized when the voter inhabits a state other than the one they will be voting in (ex. Dartmouth students). Early voting does not require an excuse or application, but rather voters can request a ballot and then drop it off at a designated location before election day (Pew Research Center). These “non-traditional” methods of voting have gained popularity this year, especially due to the polarity of the election and the new risk of contracting COVID-19 in public spaces, such as polling places. The pandemic has also resulted in many states changing their early/absentee laws to accommodate a larger range of reasons, or lack thereof, in order to minimize potential exposure and spread.
For early voting in Vermont, absentee ballots will be sent to all registered voters. If you are not yet registered to vote but turn 18 on or before election day, you may vote in the election (and the primary!). Registration can be either in person or online, though if opting to register online, it is recommended that you complete your registration several days before the election to ensure your name is processed.
In New Hampshire, all voters are eligible to vote early/absentee. In order to do so, you need to request the absentee ballot from the town clerk, and then fill it out and mail it in before the election. You may register either before or on the day of the election, and you must fill out the voter registration form in both cases.
For questions regarding voting, check either your state government’s website and tabs on voting, as well as Ballotpedia, which can direct you to those pages and answer any question around the voting process.