How to Vote – A Guide for the Diabetes Community
Election Day in the United States is November 3, 2020. How can we ensure that future laws and protections will help, not harm, the over 34 million families in the United States impacted by diabetes? By learning about candidates who will decide our healthcare future and then voting in local, state and federal elections.
Briefly, here’s what you should know if you’re voting as a person with diabetes: because of the Americans With Diabetes Act (ADA), diabetes of any type is a valid reason to request a mail-in or absentee ballot. If you’re concerned about COVID-19 and voting in person, request one early and mail it back with plenty of time (at least two weeks) or find your local drop-off location on election day (it may not be the polling place). Your vote matters. Read more about the power of the diabetes vote here. Keep reading for a full breakdown of how to vote in the November 3 election.
The most important thing is that you make a plan to vote. Below you’ll find a step-by-step guide to understanding your options, keeping track of deadlines and casting your vote.
1. Register to vote or check your registration to make sure it is current
Before you can vote, make sure you’ve registered in your state. If you’ve registered before, it’s important that you double-check to make sure your registration is current and your information is correct.
It takes 30 seconds to check your registration status using this tool from Vote.org—they also have a list of official voter lookup links by state.
If you need to register to vote, do that now! Some states require you to register as much as a month before an election, so don’t put this off. The good news is that you can register quickly online in 39 states. Find your state here: online voter registration links.
If you are located in any of the following states or territories, you won’t be able to register to vote online. Head to vote.gov and select your state for registration details specific to your location!
Registration deadlines – remember to register to vote BEFORE the dates listed below!
October 4, 2020 – Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana*, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas
October 5, 2020 – Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Indiana
October 6, 2020 – New Mexico
October 7, 2020 – Missouri
October 9, 2020 – New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma
October 10, 2020 – Delaware, Idaho
October 12, 2020 – Virginia
October 13, 2020 – District of Columbia, Oregon, Kansas, West Virginia, Maine*, Maryland, Minnesota*, New Jersey
October 14, 2020 – Massachusetts, Wisconsin*
October 18, 2020 – Illinois*
October 19, 2020 – Alabama, California, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Michigan, Nebraska
October 20, 2020 – Wyoming
October 24, 2020 – Iowa
October 26, 2020 – Colorado*, Washington*
October 27, 2020 – Connecticut, Utah*
October 29, 2020 – Nevada
*These states have online registration deadlines as listed (important for voting by mail or ballot drop box), but also allow voters to register on Election Day if voting in person.
Not listed, special cases: North Dakota does not have voter registration, but you will need proof of residency and ID at the polls, Vermont and New Hampshire allow same day voter registration.
2. Learn about mail-in or absentee voting in your state and decide if that is the right option for you
Mail-in or absentee voting also varies by state, but people with diabetes should be able to vote absentee thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Diabetes of any kind, as protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), is a valid reason to request a mail-in ballot. Mail-in or absentee ballots can also often be dropped off at ballot drop-off locations on Election Day.
If you live in a state that requires an excuse to vote by absentee ballot, THIS TABLE summarizes the exemptions by state—“illness or disability” is valid in every one. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the availability of voting by mail is being expanded in many cases where you can now list “fear or voting due to coronavirus” as a valid reason to vote via absentee ballot.
34 states and the District of Columbia already allowed anyone to vote by mail via an absentee ballot. Some states are even sending every registered voter a mail-in ballot or absentee ballot application, so keep an eye out for that.
The best thing to do is visit CAN I VOTE and select your state from the dropdown menu for more specifics.
Mail-in voting is safe and secure (and not new—one in four voters voted by mail in 2018), and may be a lower-risk alternative for people with diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, recent concerns have been flagged by the post office about the timing of returning mail-in ballots.
Important advice—vote early! Request a mail-in ballot well before the deadline, fill it out with plenty of time to spare and send it back at least two weeks before your state’s deadline (usually Election Day), or plan ahead to drop it off at a ballot drop location near you on election day. Look up your ballot drop box location—it may not be the same as your polling place.
Deadlines to REQUEST your absentee or mail-in ballot can be found here, but we recommend requesting it as early as possible!
3. If you’re voting in person, make a plan
If you prefer to vote in person or find that deadlines or other obstacles mean you must vote in person on November 3rd, it’s best to have a plan in place before Election Day. While lines and wait times vary from place to place, plan to wait in line. Adjust your schedule ahead of time so you can stay until you’ve cast your vote.
Find your polling place using this locator from vote.org. Make a plan for transportation. If you don’t have a ride to the polls, there may be local volunteers or free rides through ride services. (We’ll post more information as it becomes available!)
Going to the polls checklist:
- Personal identification—varies by state, check what you need here.
- Low snacks and diabetes supplies (don’t forget water and depending on when you’re voting, pack regular snacks as well!)
- Phone number for the Election Protection Hotline—call if you run into any problems or have questions on Election Day:
- English: 1-866-OUR-VOTE / 1-866-687-8683
- Spanish: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA / 1-888-839-8682
- Arabic: 1-844-YALLA-US / 1-844-925-5287
- For Bengali, Cantonese, Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, or Vietnamese: 1-888-274-8683
Important reminders from the ACLU:
- If the polls close while you’re still in line, stay in line—you have the right to vote.
- If you make a mistake on your ballot, ask for a new one.
- If the machines are down at your polling place, ask for a paper ballot.
Read about The Power of the Diabetes Vote.