Elections in the US: how early voting works and until when is it

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It can be done by mail or in person. The terms depend on each State.

Presidential elections in the United States will be held on November 3, 2020. That date is what US legislation establishes as the day the population goes to the polls, but that is not the only way to vote. Since in the country there is possibility of early votingMillions of people will have already opted for Donald Trump or Joe Biden by the first Tuesday in November.

One of the forms of early suffrage in the United States is the vote by mail, the modality that has garnered the most followers in 2020 due to the restrictions of the pandemic. However, the data shows that both the postal vote and the face-to-face early suffrage have grown substantially as a preferential option to vote.

According to the US Election Project, more than 29 million people they already cast their vote in advance. At this point in the 2016 election cycle, only 6 million people had previously voted.

The US Election Project has also tracked early voting in the United States over the decades. While in 1992, only 7% of the register voted in this way, in 2016, that figure rose to 36.6% of the register.

According to a survey by the NBC network, about 52% of those who are eligible to vote in this presidential election they will do it in advance.

Until 2020, there were 33 States that allowed early face-to-face voting without justification. That is, you did not have to explain why you wanted to do it. Regarding voting by mail, there were 28 States that allowed it to be done without justification. Voting by mail is allowed in all (in some cases a valid justification is required), while anticipated attendance varies from State to State.

Many States have changed their modalities due to the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic. In this sense, many have chosen to simplify the way to access early voting. This mostly means allowing early voting by default, which means that the state sends the form to vote by mail to everyone, regardless of whether they asked for it or not.

Sending the forms that allow voting, and the deadline to send them to the required authorities, also depends on each state. Let us remember that, until 2020 and the arrival of the pandemic, in some States they had to be requested in a particular way, but on this occasion several chose to send them to all those registered.

The first to start shipping them in 2020 was North Carolina: September 4 he mailed his registered voters the documents necessary to vote early.

The last to do so was Washington State, which submitted the forms on October 16. Because of this, your deadline for receiving votes by mail is stretched to 5 days after election day.

Each state establishes different deadlines in which that vote by mail must reach the competent authorities to be considered valid. Most require that the vote arrive until 7:00 p.m. on Election Day, but there are exceptions such as California, which only requires that the vote be sent on Election Day. From there, there 17 days for the vote to reach the authorities.

As for early voting in person, there are at least 10 states that do not allow it. Pennsylvania, for example, was the first to enable the possibility of leaving the vote in person, but it had to be an envelope with the vote inside. I mean, a “vote by mail”, but dispatched personally.

Florida, for its part, enabled the polls for early voting in person on Monday. This means that people can report to their assigned voting centers and vote as if it were the same day of the elections.

It must be clarified that, until 2020, this had to be requested in advance. Due to the pandemic, several States chose to send them by default. The time limits each district allows for early voting in person also varies. In some cases, it is suspended up to 4 days before election day, while in others it may be vote in advance until the day of the election.


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