Frequently Asked Questions

Check out this helpful guide from NBC News on the rules around voting by mail, early, and on Election Day in all 50 states. It also links to the state elections division if you have additional questions. If you live in a battleground state, you can also view the MoveOn battleground voting guide here. You can always call the voter protection hotline at 1-866-Our-Vote with any additional questions.

Every state has its own deadlines and rules regarding registering to vote and voting by mail or during early voting. We recommend registering and voting as early as possible, to ensure you have enough time to complete the voting process. If you choose to vote by mail, MoveOn recommends requesting your ballot by October 12, and if you have not returned it by October 20, you should do so in person to ensure it is received in time to be counted or vote in person. Don’t forget to look at all the instructions to ensure you sign and seal the envelopes properly. To look up your state-specific deadlines, check out the NBC voting guide here.

Many states are taking precautions to protect voters during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can choose to request a ballot now, to have the flexibility to vote from home. If you vote in person, we recommend that you wear a mask, bring hand sanitizer/wash your hands when you get home, and stay distant at the polling place by keeping 6 feet between people in line. Also be prepared to stay in line in case there is a line: Bring a chair, sunscreen, water, entertainment, whatever you need to ensure you are able to vote this year.

Most poll workers in the U.S. are over 60, which puts them at high risk for COVID-19, so many who have been serving for years won’t be able to this year. Primary elections this year already showed that decades of voter suppression tactics are colliding with the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in hundreds of polling locations closed across the country and hours long lines to vote. Now, the shortage of poll workers presents a new risk for exacerbated problems with voting come November 3. If you want to be a poll worker, please visit powerthepolls.com

Voting has started in many states via voting by mail or voting early. Check your registration, register to vote, and request your ballot here to have your voice heard this election. To see the details in your state about voting in person early or on November 3, check out the NBC voting guide here.

Please tell the voter protection hotline right away, either online at https://866ourvote.org/ or by phone by dialing 866-OUR-VOTE.

The most common mistakes with mail-in ballots are returning it late and forgetting to sign the ballot. We recommend that after October 20 you deliver your ballot in person, wherever available in your state, to ensure it is received in time. Don’t forget to look at all of the instructions to ensure you sign in the right place and seal the envelope as directed.

Yes, some states have online tracking for ballots. To see if your state does and where to track it online, look at the Common Cause guide here.


Fill out the form here to see if you are registered to vote. This could be a multistep process if we can’t confirm your registration. Click through to your state’s site to double-check.

Voting by mail means that instead of going to the polls, voters get a ballot mailed to them. Voters fill it out and either mail it back to local election officials or drop it off at a designated site like a drop box or polling place by a specified date. 

In some states, voting by mail is called absentee voting, early voting, or voting from home. Different states have different rules and processes for voting by mail. Some automatically send all registered voters mail-in ballots, some send mail-in ballots to all voters who request one, and some require an “excuse” for receiving a mail-in ballot. 

Because of COVID-19, some states are removing previous barriers to voting by mail—like requiring an excuse—or adding COVID-19 as a qualifying excuse to vote by mail this year. 


Voting by mail is a secure and established part of our electoral system. In the last two federal elections, nearly 1 in every 4 voters cast a mail-in ballot. 

Voting by mail has long been supported by election officials, politicians, and voters across the political spectrum. 

In all states, there are safeguards in place to assure that voting by mail is conducted fairly and securely. More than 250 million votes have been safely and accurately cast by mail-in ballots since 2000.

In five states—Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington—voting by mail is the primary method of voting, and all registered voters receive a mail-in ballot. Due to COVID-19, certain additional states are opting to send all registered voters a mail-in ballot for November, while others are opting to send all registered voters an application for a mail-in ballot.

Voting by mail is as safe as conducting other important activities by mail, like paying bills, filing taxes, or sending credit cards and prescription drugs.

All states will still have in-person polling sites for those who cannot or do not want to vote by mail. Polling sites are also places where voters can go to correct unexpected problems with their mail-in ballot (depending on the state).


Every state has their own rules and definitions. In general, in-person absentee means you request a ballot, fill it out, and return it all in one visit. You’ll vote using the same type of paper ballot as people who get the ballot mailed to their house. In-person early voting generally means voting at an Early Voting polling location, where you vote in the same way as voters on Election Day.

In most states, yes, you are still able to vote in person if you have not used the ballot mailed to you. The exception is Kentucky, where you must vote with the ballot mailed to you. If possible, bring your requested ballot and all return envelopes to the polling place with you. You may have to use a provisional ballot, which will be counted after officials confirm your mail-in ballot was not also used. If you have any questions, or trouble voting in person, call the voter protection hotline for help at 1-866-Our-Vote or live chat with them at 866ourvote.org.

That is completely understandable. Trump and his political appointee Louis DeJoy have purposely eroded our faith in the USPS for their own political gain. However, the mail continues to be a reliable service that delivers millions of ballots, prescriptions, holiday cards, and essential packages daily. Millions of ballots have already been cast, many through USPS. If you are feeling unsure about the mail, you can look up where to drop off your ballot in person here, or see where to vote in person even if you’ve requested a ballot here.

Voting is a complicated process on purpose. Republican officials have worked for decades to create obstacles to voting. Here are some tips to ensure your vote is counted: 

    1. Check your registration! Even if you’ve voted before, you may have moved, your polling place could move, or the state could remove you from the voting rolls. It is always important to double-check your registration. 
    2. Make a plan, and vote ASAP. Voting doesn’t just happen, you have to plan for it! Look up now where and when you can vote in your state, put it on your calendar, and make the time to vote. 
    3. Sign and assemble your ballot correctly. In most states, ballots will not be counted unless they are signed, assembled in the provided envelopes correctly, and all instructions are followed. Be sure to read all instructions that come with the ballot! 
    4. Return your ballot in person by November 3. Given the GOP attacks on the post office, MoveOn is recommending that you drop off your ballot this close to the election to ensure it is received by the deadline. You can find where to drop it off in your state here. Then then look up here where to track your ballot and ensure it was accepted.
    5. Any questions? Call or live chat the nonpartisan election protection hotline at 1-866-Our-Vote or 866ourvote.org.

Some states require your signature on your ballot to match another signature they have on record from you, possibly from your voter registration, the DMV, or your mail-in ballot request. Matching your signature exactly can be hard, since we usually don’t think about it, and our signatures change over time. Here are some general tips to help ensure the signature on your ballot is not rejected: 

  1. Be consistent. Always use the same names and same order of names as your official documents. For example, if you requested a ballot as “Jane Debra Smith,” you should sign as “Jane Debra Smith.” 
  2. Use a flat, clean surface and sign with intention. 
  3. Look at your county election website to see if you can look up your signature on file, or update it. 
  4. Track your ballot where available to ensure it is accepted, and if it isn’t, then you’ll have time to fix any problems before the deadline. 

Need help voting help right now?

Call the voter protection hotline at 1-866-Our-Vote

or live chat with a volunteer at https://866ourvote.org/ by clicking on the face icon on the right-hand side.

Had trouble using one of the voting forms?

MoveOn often uses information from third-parties to inform its outreach to voters. Specific voting information included on messages linking to or from this website may not have been specifically vetted by MoveOn. Please verify any information used with sources that you trust.