Don't Panic If You Missed the Mail-in Ballot Deadline. Here's How to Make Sure Your Vote Counts

The last day to confidently mail in an absentee ballot, in time to have it received by Election Day, November 3rd, has passed. (October 27th was the cutoff set by the Postal Service.) But don’t panic. If you, like millions of Americans, still have a ballot in hand, you have easy options to make your ballot count. The details vary by location, so we’ve broken down what to do in major swing states.

It is true that a few swing states plan to count ballots as long as they are postmarked by election day. But it’s better to return your ballot by hand as soon as possible. Mailed ballots remain vulnerable to ongoing delivery delays by the Postal Service. And even before the addition of new, reactionary justice Amy Coney Barrett, the Supreme Court was signaling that ballots arriving after November 3rd may be vulnerable to legal challenge.

PLEASE NOTE: The advice in this article is specifically for voters who have received a ballot in the mail and need to return it in person. If this doesn’t apply to you, make a plan to vote in person — either at an early-vote location, or on November 3rd at your usual polling place. To assess your best option, check out Vote.org.

Alaska

According to the division of elections, “voted ballots can be delivered to any Division of Elections office or any voting location” through election day. (Returning ballots by mail is still an option. Mailed ballots must be postmarked by Election Day and “received by the Division by November 13, 2020.”)

Arizona

According to the Citizens Clean Election Commission, a voted ballot can now be returned by “dropping it off at any voting location in your county [or] in any secured ballot drop box in your county.” Visit this map to find an appropriate ballot drop location. Deadline: ballots must be signed and received by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day.

Florida

According to the division of elections, voted ballots can be deposited in secure drop boxes, either at “main and branch offices” of the Supervisors of Elections or at “designated early voting sites” in your county. Locations, days, and hours of drop boxes can be found by following county-specific links here. Deadline: “A returned voted ballot must be received… no later than 7:00 p.m. (local time) on Election Day.”

Georgia

According to the secretary of state a voted ballot can be delivered in person to a “drop-off location in your county.” Available drop-off locations can be found by following county links here, or at gaballotdropbox.org, run by the state Democratic party. Ballots must be received “by the time of the closing of the polls on election night.”

Iowa

According to the secretary of state, voted absentee ballots must be delivered to the appropriate “county auditor’s office.” (Find your local auditor’s office here.) According to the ACLU of Iowa many county auditors “have set up ballot boxes in front of their building for contact-free drop-off.” Ballots must be received “before the polls close on Election Day.”

Maine

According to the secretary of state, absentee voters should “drop off your ballot in person or via an absentee ballot drop box at your municipal office (if available)” Ballots must be received “no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day.” (Find your local municipal office, look here.)

Minnesota

According to the secretary of state, you can return your ballot in person to “the election office that sent your ballot.” This must be done, “no later than 3 p.m. on Election Day to the election office that sent your ballot.” (Returning ballots by mail is still an option. Minnesota law allows ballots to be post-marked up until election day itself, as long as they are received by the appropriate county office by November 10th.)

Montana

Ballot instructions tell voters they can drop off a voted ballot “at your county election office.” Consult this document for information about your county election location. Deadline: ballots “must be RECEIVED at the election office by 8 p.m. on Election Day, November 3, 2020.”

New Hampshire

According to voting instructions for absentee ballots, “the voter may personally deliver it… to the clerk in the city or town in which you are entitled to vote.” (Unsure where that is? Here is a directory of town clerks.) Ballots must be “received by the town, city or ward clerk no later than 5:00 p.m. on the day of the election.”

Michigan

The official Michigan Voter Information Center recommends “hand-delivering the ballot to your clerk’s office or their drop box,” warning that your “completed absentee ballot should be received by your city or township clerk by 8 p.m. on Election Day.” (You can find the address of your local clerk here.)

Nevada

According to the secretary of state, ballots can be returned in person at a ballot drop-off location “prior to 7:00 p.m. on November 3rd.” Every county has at least one ballot drop-off location, found here. (Returning ballots by mail is still an option. Nevada will count ballots post-marked on or before election day.)

Nebraska

Ballots can be returned to in person to county election offices and “must arrive at the county election official’s office by the closing of the polls on Election Day (8:00 pm Central Time / 7:00 pm Mountain Time),” according to the secretary of state.

North Carolina

North Carolina allows for voted ballots to be returned in person at “any early voting site in your county during voting hours” up until October 31st. After that, ballots must be returned to “your county board of elections office by 5 p.m.” on Election Day. (Returning ballots by mail is still an option. According to the state board of elections North Carolina will count ballots “postmarked on or before Election Day, and received by 5 p.m. November 12th.”)

Ohio

Ballots can be returned to your county board of elections (directory here) in person “no later than 7:30 pm on Election Day.” (Returning ballots by mail is still an option. Ohio allows for ballots to be counted as long as they are “postmarked no later than the day before Election Day and received by your county board of elections no later than 10 days after the election.”)

Pennsylvania

Voters can hand-deliver their ballots to a variety of locations, including county election offices, satellite offices, and (in some counties) secure drop boxes. The nonpartisan Pennsylvania Capital-Star offers a map of ballot drop locations in the state. Ballots must be received “before 8 pm on election day.” Remember to enclose your ballot in both the secrecy envelope and the return envelope. “Naked ballots” will be invalidated. (Returning ballots by mail may still be an option, but state plans to count late-arriving ballots is being challenged at the Supreme Court.)

Texas

Voting in Texas is a challenge. By order of the Republican governor, now blessed by the Texas supreme court, voted ballots can only be returned in person at one facility in each county, regardless of whether that county is home to hundreds of Texans or millions. Voters dropping off their ballots must be prepared to show a valid ID. (Returning ballots by mail is still an option. Texas allows ballots to be counted with post marks as late as Election Day, although they must be received by election officials by November 4th.)

Wisconsin

The U.S. Supreme Court just ruled against counting ballots that arrive after Election Day in Wisconsin. State voter instructions for returning a ballot in person are as follows:

• Drop it off at your municipal clerk’s office
• Drop it off at your polling place or central count location
• Drop it off in an absentee ballot drop box (if available)

Ballots must be received “no later than 8:00 pm on Election Day.”

And finally…

If you’re experiencing any confusion or difficulty in voting, you can reach out to the national, nonpartisan Election Protection coalition through 866ourvote.org.

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