One of the biggest topics of conversation this year, in unison with the overwhelming number of major events 2020 has brought us, has been this year’s election. Here at SHA, we have a considerable portion of students who are eligible to vote. Since every November brings an election, voting is likely one of the first things every one of us will do to actively participate in our democracy. The first step toward voting is registration.
Registering to vote has come a long way in recent years. From consistent links and reminders throughout major social media networks to various websites dedicated to thoroughly detailing how and where to register, it has become incredibly easy to register to vote and check your registration. In Connecticut, the deadline for online registration and registration through the mail is October 27, one of the latest in the country. Connecticut also allows in-person registration through Election Day, November 3. Online registration can be accessed through several channels. Vote.org is an extremely helpful tool to register to vote, check your registration, request an absentee/mail-in ballot, locate your polling place, or even sign up to be a poll worker.
There are two ways to vote, in-person or absentee/mail-in. It is important to note that even if you are already registered to vote and you apply for and receive an absentee/mail-in ballot it is perfectly legal to vote in-person and disregard the ballot you received in the mail.
If you wish to vote in-person, the following steps apply. After registering to vote, find out your polling location. This can be easily found through The Connecticut Secretary of the State’s website, Vote.org, Vote.gov, and many other helpful websites. On November 3, between 6 am and 8 pm, attend your polling location and you will be able to vote. The most common form of identification used to vote is a current and valid government-issued ID such as a driver’s license, passport, or social security card. However, this is not required in the State of Connecticut to vote and you can vote without it. If you are unable to provide identification, you can sign an affidavit instead and proceed to vote normally.
First-time voters without identification will be provided with a provisional ballot. If you are a first-time voter who registered by mail and is voting in-person you will need to bring proof of residence. Valid proof of residence can be fulfilled by your current and valid government-issued ID. If you are not providing identification, other valid proof of residence includes a government document with your name and address, a printed bank statement containing your name and address, and others.
The second option to cast your ballot is the absentee/mail-in route. First, I would like to emphasize that an absentee and a mail-in ballot are the same and work the same way. Absentee is often used to describe a ballot being cast by someone who does not live close enough to their place of voter registration for that individual to cast an in-person ballot. This year is different, the State of Connecticut has sent absentee ballot applications to all registered voters to ensure that everyone has the chance to vote during this pandemic whether they choose to go to the polls. When you receive your absentee/mail-in ballot be sure to read and complete every direction. If you wish to send your ballot back after completion through the mail, it must be postmarked by Election Day, November 3 to be counted.
There are also official ballot drop boxes that can be used instead of sending your ballot back through the mail. Your closest ballot drop box is likely outside your town hall.
The final day to request an absentee ballot is November 2. There is no set date to send in your absentee ballot. It can be postmarked or dropped in a ballot box anywhere between when you receive it and November 3.
Every person’s vote counts, and it is important to understand how to vote if you plan on it this year. If you are wondering who will be on your ballot, vote411.org and www.ballotpedia.org are great resources. If you are interested in what each of the positions on your ballot means and what the candidates on your ballot stand for, ballotready.org is phenomenal. If you would like to know which districts you are a part of and who all your current legislators are the Connecticut General Assembly website (cga.ct.gov) is a great tool. Remember your voting rights and be sure to call the Election Protection Hotline (1-866-687-8683) if anyone attempts to stop you from voting.
Voting Rights Guide: https://www.vote.org/election-protection
Connecticut Secretary of The State: https://portal.ct.gov/SOTS
Who Is on My Ballot? www.vote411.org www.ballotpedia.org
What Do These Positions Mean & What Do My Candidates Stand For? www.ballotready.org
What Are My Districts & Who Are My Legislators? www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/cgafindleg.asp
Election Protection Hotline: 1-866-687-8683