How to Vote in Person on Election Day if You Requested a Mail-in Ballot

Elliott Stallion, Unsplash
Elliott Stallion, Unsplash / Elliott Stallion, Unsplash

Election Day falls on Tuesday, November 3, this year, and more than 90 million Americans have already voted. That's thanks to the expansion of early voting and mail-in ballots in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Voting by mail is a safer and more convenient option for many people, but it also requires voters to plan ahead. If you're still waiting for your mail-in ballot, don't panic—there are things you can do to make sure your vote counts this Election Day.

Though the deadline for mail-in votes in most states is Election Day, the USPS asked voters to mail their ballots at least a week before that date to allow time for delivery. That means if your ballot hasn't arrived by November 2, it may be time to come up with an alternate voting plan. Fortunately, requesting a mail-in ballot doesn't disqualify you from voting in person—though depending on where you live, voting won't be as simple as walking into your local polling place.

As ProPublica explains, the protocol for voting in person after requesting a mail-in ballot varies by state. Some states require you to fill out a provisional ballot that will be counted once election officials have determined you haven't voted by mail. You may also need to sign an affidavit stating that you haven't sent your mail-in ballot and submit that with your vote. ProPublica lists the rules of each state here.

If you did receive your mail-in ballot but decide you want to vote in person instead, bring it with you to your local polling place. That way you can exchange it for an in-person ballot and have poll workers dispose of it. You can also do this if you damaged or made a mistake on your mail-in ballot and are afraid it won't be counted. Using anything other than blue or black ink, not filling in the oval fully, and leaving stray marks on the paper are all mistakes that could get your ballot disqualified.

[h/t ProPublica]