We all have plenty to be anxious about in the leadup to the Nov. 3 general election. The list grew infinitely longer with last week’s heart-stopping news that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died.
Here’s one thing Utahns can remove from our list of anxieties, though: If we plan ahead and pay attention, we can vote without fear that our votes will not count or that fraud will destroy an election so vital to our nation’s future.
In Utah, universal mail-in voting is in place and proven. Our eight years of experience with this system disprove President Trump’s every preposterous utterance defaming mail-in voting as a Democratic conspiracy to unseat him.
That doesn’t mean, however, that things can’t go wrong. Follow these steps to make sure you cast your vote and that it’s counted.
Check your voter registration status.
You can check the status of your voter registration here. You provide your name, date of birth, and address. If you are registered, your voting precinct will display, along with your voter identification number and voter status. You can click on a link to update your voter registration if you have moved, for example, or if you want to change your party affiliation.
If you’re not registered, you can register online or by printing a form and mailing it in. A county clerk must have your voter registration form by 5 p.m. on Oct. 23 if you want to automatically receive a mail-on ballot (your best option), but you also may register at a polling place in-person on Election Day or during early voting with two forms of identification if necessary.
Watch for your mail-in ballot.
Every Utahn with an active voter registration will receive a ballot in the mail from Oct. 13-Oct. 27, although if you live in San Juan County, you may receive it earlier. If Oct. 27 passes and you haven’t received a ballot contact your county clerk’s office.
Follow the instructions carefully. In particular, make sure your signature, which is required, hasn’t changed since you signed your voter registration form. Mail your ballot as soon as you have decided how to vote. The U.S. Postal Service advises voters to mail ballots a week before election day, but we recommend mailing your ballot back by October 20th. After October 20th, the best thing to do is to return your ballot in a ballot drop box. If you need more time, your ballot must be postmarked by Nov. 2 to be counted, or you can drop it off by 8 p.m. on Election Day at a county clerk’s office, a polling location, or a designated drop-off location. If you live in a rural area and are returning your ballot via post office, make sure to request a local postmark if you’re returning it after October 20th.
Track your ballot.
After your ballot is on its way, you can track it here. Contact your county clerk’s office if it doesn’t arrive.
Share that your vote was counted.
Once you see that your ballot has been counted, be sure to share with your family and friends on social media and via other methods that your ballot has been counted. This will help remind people to vote, as well as help inform them that they can track their ballots.
You can vote in person if necessary.
It will be possible to vote in person both early (from Oct. 20-30) and on Election Day, but in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities hope Utahns will choose this option only if they did not receive a ballot in the mail. Contact your county clerk’s office for more information.
Stay informed. Be skeptical and smart.
Vote.utah.gov, Utah’s official voter information center, or your county clerk’s office, are the best sources of information and the best place to direct your questions or voice any concerns you have.
Do not fall prey to misinformation on social media or elsewhere. Verify information before you share it. Information about candidates and issues will be available here to help you decide how to vote.
If you plan ahead and pay attention, you can trust that you’ll be able to vote and that your vote will count. Vote as if our nation’s future depends on it, because it does.
Lisa Carricaburu is an Alliance for a Better Utah board member.