“Make a plan to vote.” We’re starting to hear this a lot as the 2020 campaign enters its final stretch, from everyone from pro athletes to former presidents. What does that mean, exactly?
It means to mind the calendar, plan for contingencies, and be specific.
Most of us intend to vote. But any number of unforeseen reasons – school, work, family, a persistent and deadly pandemic – can easily prevent us from casting our ballots despite our best intentions. This year’s vote is not one you’ll want to sit out, so here are some things to consider as you build your plan to vote.
Before Election Day
Every plan starts with making ABSOLUTELY sure that you are registered to vote. Check your status with the Nebraska Secretary of State. Even if you’re pretty sure you’re on the rolls, it doesn’t hurt to double-check. Plus, it’s quick and easy.
Fully review candidates, issues, and measures on the 2020 ballot. Your vote is more powerful when you make informed choices. Sample ballots will begin appearing in late September; we’ll post them at our Election 2020 Central hub for your convenience. And in early October, we’ll share our 2020 edition of DECODING THE BALLOT, which will delve deeply into what’s on the ballot this year. Keep an eye out for those features.
Make your voting plan
Amid COVID-19 concerns, this must go beyond saying “My plan is that I plan to vote.” Many Nebraskans are expected to stay home from the polls Nov. 3 and instead vote in advance from home, thanks to our state’s no-excuse absentee ballot option. This worked enormously well in the state’s May primary, which blew away all previous participation records.
A general election typically draws about twice the voters of a primary, however. And with widely reported concerns over the U.S. Postal Service and possible mail-service delays before Election Day, it’s essential that you master the election calendar if you plan to vote by mail. We suggest the “Three Rs” approach to give our hard-working postal service staff as much cushion as possible: Register online (if you have not yet); Request (your mail-in ballot by Oct. 6); and Return (no later than Oct. 20).
Here’s every key date for voting by mail:
Of course, there is more than one way to cast your vote early in Nebraska. If you are comfortable doing so, you can go to your county’s election commission office and vote early in person. That option is available starting Oct. 5 and ends at the end of the business day on Nov. 2. If you choose this option, please be safe and vigilant to protect your and others’ health. Our election workers are our MVPs this time of year, and we want them – and you! – to stay virus-free.
To review, here are Nebraskans’ two early voting options:
Voting in person on Nov. 3
If you really, really want to vote on Election Day, polls will be open from 8 am to 8 pm across the state. Be safe! Coronavirus doesn’t care who or what you’re voting for, so please follow all public health directives and guidelines.
Be sure to build adequate time into your schedule for the day. Identify a specific time that you will go to the polls, and stick to it. Write that time on your calendar, and/or set a reminder on your smartphone.
Double-check your polling place. In a pandemic, it’s possible that polling places are shifting. Go here to double-check.
Consider transportation and weather. Early November can be unpredictable, weather-wise, in Nebraska. The average high is 57 and the average low is 33, but we’ve gotten everything from snowstorms to thunderstorms in early November in recent years. So make contingency plans.
- How am I getting to my polling place? Am I driving? Do I have reliable transportation in bad weather? Do I need someone else to drive me?
- Should I carpool with a friend or a neighbor? (Pro tip: Planning to vote in person with a friend helps ensure you both vote.)
- How much time should I set aside for travel, parking, etc.?
- Should I bring a coat (in case physically distanced lines stretch outside my polling place’s building) or something to snack on while I wait?
Know your rights. Voting is our most important and precious of democratic rights. If you or someone you know is denied a ballot for any reason, we need to know about it right away. Call our Election Protection Hotline at 402.890.5291. We’ll have a team of attorneys on hand all day to assist and advise you.
Here are more day-of, in-person voting facts and resources for you:
Celebrate! It’s time to bask in the awesomeness of participating in your democracy. Nebraska law permits “ballot selfies,” meaning you can take a picture of yourself voting, and/or of your ballot if you want to.
Share that you voted on social media. This helps remind everyone in your social network to vote if they haven’t yet. Help spread the joy of voting this year – your democracy will love you for it.