Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Important mailin voting information



Once a rarity, ballot tracking is now available in most states.Nicholas Little / for NBC News

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Sept. 23, 2020, 12:00 PM EDT

By Kevin Collier

Forty-six states have quietly adopted a free way for every voter to track their ballot this year, a potential rebuttal to fears that voting by mail is inherently risky.

Ballot-tracking systems, a first for most states this presidential election, are a potential way to combat Americans' growing distrust in election results in general and the accuracy of voting by mail in particular.

For most states, it's a simple online lookup that shows simple fields for each voter's ballot, like whether it's been sent or received, according to a tally from the National Vote at Home Institute, a nonprofit that advocates allowing Americans to vote without having to visit a polling site.

Five states, plus several hundred counties, go further. They offer a service that marks every voter's envelope with a unique barcode like a shipped package and lets them receive updates via text message or email every step of the way.

That's a sharp increase from 2016, when only a handful of states allowed ballot tracking of any sort.

"With all the misinformation on mail ballots, we've got to deal with the inaccurate information out there," said Amber McReynolds, the National Vote at Home Institute's CEO and a former director of elections for Denver, which pioneered such a system.


Plan your vote: What you need to know about mail-in voting

Sept. 18, 202001:35

"Not only does it notify that your ballot's been accepted, it notifies you if your ballot has a problem," she said. "That instant notification is helpful, and it streamlines the administrative process."

Many states are experiencing an unparalleled surge in mailed ballots, thanks in large part to the trend of states allowing voters to vote absentee because of the coronavirus pandemic. But that surge has been accompanied by increased concerns about whether voting by mail is safe and accurate. Fewer than half of American voters are confident the 2020 vote count will be accurate, an August NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found — a sharp drop from 2016 — and a majority say that mailed votes won't be counted accurately.

Top government officials have contributed to that uncertainty. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Republican donor who started in June, quickly implemented cost-cutting moves to the U.S. Postal Service, then reversed them in August amid lawsuits that alleged they could result in unreliable ballot delivery. And President Donald Trump has repeatedly instructed followers in North Carolina and elsewhere to vote twice — both by mail and in person — an illegal act that can potentially bring criminal charges.

Karen Brinson Bell, the top election official in North Carolina, said she was grateful her state had already instituted a ballot tracking program when Trump made those comments.


PLAN YOUR VOTE: How to vote by mail and register to vote in each state

"We didn't have a crystal ball that these things would be said or be called into question. When a voter has doubts, we feel fortunate these things were already put into place," she said. "For the first time in history, they can see their absentee mail ballot from the start to finish."

North Carolina is one of four states that use a program called BallotTrax statewide, which lets eligible voters sign up online to receive emails, texts or voicemails telling them when their ballot reaches one of four stages: printed, mailed, received and counted. Some BallotTrax states, like Colorado, automatically register voters who have registered their email addresses with the secretary of state's office.

In Michigan, which Trump previously falsely claimed was sending ballots to voters who didn't request them and threatened to withhold federal funding before encouraging voters to vote by mail there, voters can check the status of their ballot against the state's database.

Virginia, as well as a number of scattered counties, use a similar program called Ballot Scout that gives voters the option to get updates by text or email.

Even as Election Day looms, McReynolds said that she's talked to states that are still considering adding such a system, which she says is also a smart investment.

"The reason we designed it in Denver is when we started to see a big increase in people requesting their ballots, the main calls into our office were, 'Did you get my ballot?' and 'When is it coming?'" she said.

"I'd rather not have 50 people staffing our phone bank asking that question."

Tuesday, September 22, 2020







Voting is a core principle of being American, but to exercise this basic right, we must be registered to vote! That’s why the Economic Policy Institute is a proud partner and supporter of National Voter Registration Day, which happens to be today.

And you can be part of this amazing day!

Register to Vote Online: It’s simple, it’s free and it’s secure. If online voter registration is not available in your state or if it doesn’t work for you, you can easily start the process online no matter where you live.

Spread the word: Once you make sure you’re registered, forward this email to a friend, ask them to join you and use #NationalVoterRegistrationDay and #VoteReady in all of your social media posts.

Get #VoteReady: Already registered? Even better! If you want to vote by mail this year, request your ballot today. Or take 10 minutes now to learn more about what’s on the ballot, where your polling station is and other ways to get involved ahead of Election Day.

Sign up to be a poll worker:

Thanks for taking a few moments to strengthen your community, and our country, with your voice.

In solidarity,

Eve Tahmincioglu
Director of Communications, Economic Policy Institute