I know what you’ve heard — they hardly ever count absentee ballots, so there’s no point in you registering for one or voting that way. In this election, though, it’s more important than ever not to listen to stuff like that. So, here’s how to request an absentee ballot right now. Because it can't wait.
I should know — as someone who attended an out of state university and then moved abroad just seven months after graduating, I’ve voted absentee more often than I’ve voted in person. I’ve watched my dear state of North Carolina progress from paper ballots that required witness signatures (which was, admittedly, pretty cool) to emailed ballots that I just have to print, fill in, scan, and email back.
Every time I get all excited about filling out my ballot, I hear someone tell me that my vote won’t count because I’m voting absentee. There is, however, no evidence that absentee ballots are not counted. The uncounted absentee ballot is the Loch Ness Monster of the political system — often sighted, but there always ends up being another explanation. These rumors might persist because voting absentee means following a few more rules and adhering to the correct dates without election day volunteers literally directing you where to go. However, as long as you request the ballot and then submit it on time, your vote will be counted.
So, how do you actually do it? The absentee voting procedures vary by state, but depending on whether you’re voting from overseas or you just won’t be in your hometown on Election Day, there are two websites that will make your absentee voting life very easy.
If you’re an overseas voter, make the Federal Voting Assistance Program your new best friend. All you have to do is choose your state on the homepage, and then they’ll take you through the easy, step-by-step process that will end in your receiving your ballot sometime before Oct. 1. There’s still time, but don’t wait to do this. If your state still sends ballots by mail, you want to make sure you get it in time to fill it out and mail it back. Some states accept absentee ballots received after Election Day (which, as we all know by now, is Nov. 8), but that certainly does not apply across the board.
Living abroad isn’t the only reason you might have to order an absentee ballot, though, so the good folks at Vote.org will help you register for one without you even having to disclose a reason. Bonus: They’ll even help you register to vote if you haven't gotten around to that yet.
If it seems like the world is conspiring to help get your vote heard, well, it kind of is. These procedures will take almost no time out of your day, and they’ll end with you helping to decide who is going to represent you in government. So whether you’re serving in the military overseas, settling into a new college dorm across the country from your home, or teaching abroad on a Thai beach, you’ve got no excuses. Don’t miss your opportunity; register for your absentee ballot now before it’s too late.