5 Ways You Can Register to Vote in Less Than 5 Minutes

iStock
iStock

Not registered to vote? Time is running out. On Tuesday, November 6, U.S. citizens will have the opportunity to vote in hundreds of Congressional, gubernatorial, state, and local races, but most states require residents to register well before Election Day. If you’re super busy, rest assured—getting authorized to cast your ballot doesn’t need to be a tedious or time-consuming process. Once you’ve confirmed your local deadline, consider one of the simple registration tactics below.

1. CLICK ON A GOOGLE DOODLE.

National Voter Registration Day falls on September 25, 2018, and Google has rolled out a special new Doodle to celebrate the occasion. Click on the image, and you’ll be led to a Google search page for “how to register to vote,” with information on requirements for your state and links to sites that can help you register, like USAGov and Rock the Vote.

2. LOG IN TO INSTAGRAM …

This year, Instagram has partnered with TurboVote, a voter registration app by the nonprofit Democracy Works, to help voters look up their state’s voting rules, register, and update their information. When you see one of the ads in your Instagram Feed or Stories, swipe up, and you’ll be led to TurboVote’s mobile webpage to register.

Once Election Day comes, Instagram will also have a special “I Voted” sticker that you can use in your own posts. When your followers click on the sticker, they’ll be taken to Get to the Polls, a site where they can find out where their local polling place is located.

3. ... OR SNAPCHAT.

Beginning September 25, U.S. Snapchat users who are 18 years or older can access voter registration information directly from their profile pages. When you click on your profile, you'll see a link to TurboVote on prompting you to register to vote. The message will also appear on the Snapchat Discover page and on the company's own Story. Tap the link and you’ll be taken to the TurboVote mobile site, where you can enter in your info and get started. If you want to share your registration status, you can use the special National Voter Registration Day filter on your posts.

4. CHECK TWITTER.

Twitter is teaming up with TurboVote to get in on the election action, too. As part of the social network’s #BeAVoter campaign, when you log in to the site, you will see a prompt at the top of your timeline asking you if you've registered—and if you have, asking you to tweet about it. You’ll also see promoted tweets from @TwitterGov encouraging you to register. Click on either the timeline prompt or the promoted tweets and you’ll be taken to TurboVote’s site to complete the process.

5. SEND A TEXT OR FACEBOOK MESSAGE.

Thanks to HelloVote—which bills itself as the first text message-based voter registration tool—you can now register to vote by text as well. Just text HELLO to (844) 344-3556 or go to m.me/hellovote in Facebook Messenger. The bot will ask you a series of questions to help you register. If your state allows instant registration, HelloVote will submit the electronic paperwork for you based on your answers. If not, don’t sweat it. You’ll receive the form in the mail along with a pre-addressed stamped envelope. Sign it, send it in to your local Board of Elections, and voila!—you’re all set to vote this November.

Amazon’s Big Fall Sale Features Deals on Electronics, Kitchen Appliances, and Home Décor

Dash/Keurig
Dash/Keurig

If you're looking for deals on items like Keurigs, BISSELL vacuums, and essential oil diffusers, it's usually pretty slim pickings until the holiday sales roll around. Thankfully, Amazon is starting these deals a little earlier with their Big Fall Sale, where customers can get up to 20 percent off everything from home decor to WFH essentials and kitchen gadgets. Now you won’t have to wait until Black Friday for the deal you need. Make sure to see all the deals that the sale has to offer here and check out our favorites below.

Electronics

Dash/Amazon

- BISSELL Lightweight Upright Vacuum Cleaner $170 (save $60)

- Dash Deluxe Air Fryer $80 (save $20)

- Dash Rapid 6-Egg Cooker $17 (save $3)

- Keurig K-Café Single Coffee Maker $169 (save $30)

- COMFEE Toaster Oven $29 (save $9)

- AmazonBasics 1500W Oscillating Ceramic Heater $31 (save $4)

Home office Essentials

HP/Amazon

- HP Neverstop Laser Printer $250 (save $30)

- HP ScanJet Pro 2500 f1 Flatbed OCR Scanner $274 (save $25)

- HP Printer Paper (500 Sheets) $5 (save $2)

- Mead Composition Books Pack of 5 Ruled Notebooks $11 (save $2)

- Swingline Desktop Hole Punch $7 (save $17)

- Officemate OIC Achieva Side Load Letter Tray $15 (save $7)

- PILOT G2 Premium Rolling Ball Gel Pens 12-Pack $10 (save $3)

Toys and games

Selieve/Amazon

- Selieve Toys Old Children's Walkie Talkies $17 (save $7)

- Yard Games Giant Tumbling Timbers $59 (save $21)

- Duckura Jump Rocket Launchers $11 (save $17)

- EXERCISE N PLAY Automatic Launcher Baseball Bat $14 (save $29)

- Holy Stone HS165 GPS Drones with 2K HD Camera $95 (save $40)

Home Improvement

DEWALT/Amazon

- DEWALT 20V MAX LED Hand Held Work Light $54 (save $65)

- Duck EZ Packing Tape with Dispenser, 6 Rolls $11 (save $6)

- Bissell MultiClean Wet/Dry Garage Auto Vacuum $111 (save $39)

- Full Circle Sinksational Sink Strainer with Stopper $5 (save $2)

Home Décor

NECA/Amazon

- A Christmas Story 20-Inch Leg Lamp Prop Replica by NECA $41 save $5

- SYLVANIA 100 LED Warm White Mini Lights $8 (save 2)

- Yankee Candle Large Jar Candle Vanilla Cupcake $17 (save $12)

- Malden 8-Opening Matted Collage Picture Frame $20 (save $8)

- Lush Decor Blue and Gray Flower Curtains Pair $57 (save $55)

- LEVOIT Essential Oil Diffuser $25 (save $5)

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Absentee Ballot vs. Mail-In Ballot: What’s the Difference?

Liliboas/iStock via Getty Images
Liliboas/iStock via Getty Images

Since you mail in an absentee ballot, it seems like mail-in ballot is just a convenient alternative for people who always forget the word absentee. And though the terms are often used interchangeably, there is technically a difference.

Up until the Civil War, American voters were generally required to vote at their local polling stations in person. But when states realized this would prevent hundreds of thousands of soldiers from voting in the 1864 presidential election, they started passing laws to let them send in their ballots instead. As The Washington Post explains, state legislatures have since broadened these laws to include other citizens who can’t make it to the polls on Election Day: people who are traveling, people who have disabilities, people attending college away from home, etc. Because these voters are all physically absent from the polls for one reason or another, their ballots are known as absentee ballots.

Some states require you to meet certain criteria in order to qualify for an absentee ballot, while others don’t ask you to give a reason at all (which is known as “no-excuse absentee voting”). Since this year’s general election is happening during a pandemic, many states have temporarily adopted a no-excuse policy to encourage everyone to vote from home. But even if you don’t need to provide an excuse, you do usually need to request an absentee ballot.

According to Dictionary.com, mail-in ballot is a more general term that can refer to any ballot you send in. It’s often used when talking about all-mail voting, when states send a ballot to every registered voter—no request necessary. Oregon and a few other states actually conduct all elections like this, and several other states have decided to do it for the upcoming presidential election. But even though you don’t have to send in an application requesting a mail-in ballot in these situations, you do still have to be registered to vote.

Because voting processes are mostly left up to the states, there’s quite a bit of variation when it comes to what officials call ballots that you don’t cast in person. You could see the term mail-in ballot—or vote-by-mail ballot, or advanced ballot, or something similar—on an application for an absentee ballot, and you could hear absentee ballot used in a conversation about all-mail voting.

No matter what you call it, you should definitely mail one in for this election—here’s how to do that in your state.