As election season approaches in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the voting process. In most elections, voters only have to worry about brushing up on political candidates’ policy stances and their personal and political histories; in this election season, voters must also inform themselves on what methods they can use to safely vote during a pandemic.
Thankfully, the League of Women’s Voters Education Fund has released a tool on its website (vote411.org) called, “The Voter’s Guide,” which helps to alleviate some of the concerns and questions that voters might have this election season.
With so much uncertainty surrounding the voting process this year, voters can use Vote411.org to check their voter registration status, find their early voting and Election Day poll sites, and find deadlines for voter registration and absentee voting.
Using The Voter’s Guide, voters can receive an in-depth breakdown of all relevant elections in their area, with information being provided on State Assembly, Senate and congressional elections, as well as the presidential election. Once a voter enters their location, they can then click on relevant elections in their area and read short biographies for each candidate. The website also features candidates answers to relevant questions, helping to reveal each candidate’s policy positions.
The biographies and political positions are filled out by the candidates themselves, meaning that if the candidates do not provide it, voters will have to look elsewhere. The site is updated continuously as the information is provided.
For example, when looking at the presidential election, incumbent President Donald Trump has not responded to any of the LWV’s questions, while Democrat Joe Biden has. As a result, further research outside of the website may be necessary depending on the candidate.
Aside from information on elections and candidates, Vote 411 also provides information on polling times and locations, provides the date, time and links to various upcoming debates and forums relevant to each election.
The website also provides links to tools such as New York’s Voter Information Lookup Tool, which allows voters to check and see if they are registered to vote in New York state. If voters are not yet registered, Vote 411 provides a link that voters can use to register. For first time voters, the website also has a voting checklist which breaks down the steps required in order for their ballots to be cast.
Vote 411 provides answers to questions that voters may have about state-specific voting rules, such as voter ID laws, the processes and rules surrounding voting either in-person or via absentee ballot, provisions for voters with disabilities and provisions for voters who are overseas or are stationed abroad in the military.
Ultimately, while Vote 411 is not an exhaustive resource, especially in terms of researching candidates’ policy positions, it is still a great resource for those who are interested in voting this election season yet remain unclear of how to, where to, or when to do so.
In-person voting for the presidential election will be held on Nov. 3, but early voting is also allowed in New York state, and those looking to vote early will be able to do so from Oct. 24 to Nov. 1. For those who wish to vote via absentee ballot, ballots must be sent through the mail by Oct. 27 the latest, but to ensure that the ballot gets there on time, it is recommended that voters send their ballots in at least two weeks before the election.