If your mail-in ballot is cast, but no one is around to count it, did it make a sound?
The U.S. presidential election is fast approaching, and people keep telling you this is the most important election in a generation. The coronavirus, of course, means that when it comes to safely casting your vote this election is also one of the most unusual. Thankfully, large swaths of the country (but sadly not all) have a simple way to confirm that their residents’ mail-in ballots have been received and counted.
In previous elections, the ability to check on the status of one’s mail-in ballot might have seemed like a neat little democracy bonus feature. This year, with the president spreading misinformation about the vote-by-mail process, and questionable goings on at the United States Postal Service, checking that your vote was received feels more like a requirement.
Notably, every state has a different voting process. This is considered a plus by some experts as it makes the entire election process more resistant to fraud, hackers, or various meddling at scale. It also means, for example, that Californians have a different process to check their ballots than New Yorkers.
Below you’ll find the links you’ll need to check in on your ballot and track its status — assuming your state even allows that in the first place. It should go without saying, but all the information assumes you are both eligible to vote and have registered to do so. Oh yeah, and that you request the ballot before the state-specific deadline. As of the time of this writing, some states will still allow you to request an absentee ballot, but for others the deadline has already passed.
To check on the status of your ballot, click the link for the state in which you’re registered. If your state supports it, the link will explain how to check on your ballot. Otherwise, the link will take you to your state’s elections page which will explain how to reach out to local election officials with any questions you may have.
There’s also a littler reminder by each state about its particular deadline, because in this country a late ballot decidedly does not make a sound.
Alaska — Anyone can vote by mail in Alaska, but you have to request a ballot. Your ballot must be postmarked by Nov. 3.
Arkansas — Anyone can vote by mail in Arkansas, but you have to request a ballot. Your ballot has to be received by Nov. 3.
California — Anyone can vote by mail in California. Your ballot must be postmarked by Nov. 3.
Colorado — Anyone can vote by mail in Colorado. Your ballot has to be received by Nov. 3.
Hawaii — Voters in Hawaii were automatically mailed ballots. Your ballot has to be received by Nov. 3.
Maryland — Voters in Maryland were mailed applications. If you applied, and are voting by mail, your ballot must be postmarked by Nov. 3.
New Mexico — You have to have requested a ballot in New Mexico. Your ballot has to be received by Nov. 3.
Oregon — All voters were mailed ballots. Your ballot has to be received by Nov. 3.
Puerto Rico — You have to request a ballot in Puerto Rico, and not everyone is allowed to vote by mail. Your ballot must be postmarked by Nov. 3. Notably, Puerto Rico doesn’t get any Electoral College votes, even though it is part of the United States.
Rhode Island — Voters were mailed applications. Your ballot has to be received by Nov. 3.
Utah — Voters in Utah were sent ballots. Your ballot has to be postmarked by Nov. 2.
Vermont — Voters in Vermont were sent ballots. The Vermont Secretary of State says the following about return deadlines: “All ballots must be returned to the town clerk’s office before the close of the office on the day before the election, or to the polling place before 7 p.m. on the day of the election, in order to be counted.”
Washington — Voters in Washington were sent ballots. Your ballot must be postmarked by Nov. 3.
Washington, D.C. — Voters were sent ballots in D.C. Your ballot must be postmarked by Nov. 3.