Skip to main content

The Earth needs your vote

Important Notice

By taking action, you will receive emails from Earthjustice. Change your mailing preferences or opt-out at any time. Learn more in our Privacy Policy. Earthjustice's actions are hosted on Phone2Action. Learn about the Phone2Action Privacy Policy.

A checklist of voting to-dos. Vote!

What’s At Stake

This upcoming election, your voice is just as powerful as the voice of any attorney in a courtroom. With our easy-to-use tool, access your state’s voter information, see if you are registered, find out how to register, locate your polling location, and learn about the absentee and/or early voting options that exist in your state.

The right to vote is at the heart of our democracy, and elections have profound consequences for our government, our country, and our families.

We have the chance to make our voices heard in the voting booth. We will decide who leads our nation, who sits in the next Congress, and which national and local laws will govern us.

Your vote matters — and so do the votes of your family, neighbors, and friends.

Every vote matters.

A single vote can decide an election.

Elections, at all levels of government, can be extraordinarily close.

In 2016, only 16 votes separated the top two primary candidates for Arizona's 5th Congressional district. (A recount later expanded the lead to 27 votes.)

In 1984, four votes determined Indiana's 8th Congressional district seat.

And, our nation's election history has seen many races determined by a single vote.

Your vote matters — and so do the votes of your family, neighbors, and friends.

How can I vote?

By mail, by ballot drop-off, or in person. Here’s how

Under the U.S. Constitution, federal and state elections are administered by states, which is why voting deadlines and rules vary by jurisdiction. It’s important to know your state’s specific deadlines and rules.

With the ongoing pandemic, many election offices have temporarily changed voting rules.

(If you live outside of the United States, please visit the U.S. Vote Foundation for resources. If you're not sure if you can vote, ask your election office for details on who can and cannot vote.)

In many states, voters have two options: mail-in or in-person.

1. By mail-in ballot. Return it by mail or at an official drop-off location.

How to get a mail-in ballot:

  • All states offer absentee voting (also known as “vote-by-mail” or “mail-in voting”), although rules on eligibility and process differ by state.
    • In some states, such as Michigan, you must first request an application, and fill it out and return it, before you can receive your mail-in ballot.
    • For this election, some states like California will send mail-in ballots to all registered voters.
    • Three states — Colorado, Oregon, and Washington — hold all elections by mail and provide ballot drop-off.
  • Do not wait for the mail-in ballot request deadline if you need to request a mail-in ballot. Request your ballot early so that you have enough time to receive the ballot, fill it out, and mail it back before your state's deadline. Late ballots will not be counted.

Correctly fill out your mail-in ballot:

  • Use only the official ballot you received. Read all instructions before you begin marking your ballot.
  • Fill in the ovals or squares in the manner requested. Do not make notes, drawings, or other stray marks on your ballot. Doing so could invalidate (“spoil”) your ballot.
  • Sign your name in the correct place(s). Some mail-in ballots require more than one signature. Missing signatures are one of the most common reasons for mail-in ballots to be rejected.

Mail in your ballot before the deadline:

  • You may need to mail your ballot before Nov. 3 in order for it to be counted. Some states, such as Florida, require completed ballots to be arrive at election offices on Nov. 3.
  • The U.S. Postal Service recommends you send in your ballot at least seven days before the deadline.
  • You must use the envelope provided when mailing back your ballot. Some states, such as Pennsylvania, require you to place your ballot in the enclosed privacy envelope, before placing it in the outer envelope, in order to be counted. Seal the envelope. Affix the correct postage amount, if postage is needed.

Or, deposit your mail-in ballot in an official ballot drop box or polling place:

  • In many states, you can personally bring your ballot to locations designated by your election office. Some states permit another person to drop-off your ballot — check your state’s specific restrictions on who can do so and how.
  • Official ballot drop boxes are offered in some states. You must deposit your ballot in the official drop box before the deadline set by your election office, which may be when polls close on Election Day, Nov. 3.

2. Vote in person.

  • Early in-person voting is offered in 42 states and the District of Columbia.
  • If you choose to vote in person early or on Nov. 3, confirm your polling location and hours with your election office before you head to the polls, and check if you need to bring a specific form of identification. (Two-thirds of states require a specific form of ID.)
  • If you received a mail-in ballot, bring it with you, or you may be required to vote provisionally.
  • Remember to wear your mask.

I don’t remember if I registered to vote. Can I register now?

Maybe. Find registration deadlines

Every state except North Dakota requires voters to register.

Voter registration deadlines vary by state, with some allowing voters to register on Election Day, while others require registration weeks before Election Day.

40 states, and the District of Columbia, allow voters to register to online at Vote.gov. The National Mail Voter Registration Form is also available in different languages, including Bengali, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

Can I vote earlier than Nov. 3?

In nearly all states, yes. What you should know

Early in-person voting is now underway in Virginia and other states. Early in-person voting is offered in 42 states and the District of Columbia, with dates varying by state.

If you’ve already received an absentee ballot (also known as a vote-by-mail ballot), you can mail it in now or drop it off at designated locations. Some states permit another person to drop-off your ballot — check your state’s specific restrictions on who can do so and how.

In order to be counted, your mail-in ballot must be received at election offices before the deadline set by your election official. Some states, such as Florida, require mail-in ballots to be received at election offices on Nov. 3.

To ensure your vote is counted, make sure to correctly fill out your mail-in ballot:

  • Use only the official ballot you received. Read all instructions before you begin marking your ballot.
  • Fill in the ovals or squares in the manner requested. Do not make notes, drawings, or other stray marks on your ballot. Doing so could invalidate (“spoil”) your ballot.
  • Sign your name in the correct place(s). Some mail-in ballots require more than one signature. Missing signatures are one of the most common reasons for mail-in ballots to be rejected.
  • You must use the envelope provided when mailing back your ballot. Some states, such as Pennsylvania, require you to place your ballot in the enclosed privacy envelope, before placing it in the outer envelope. Seal the envelope. Affix the correct postage amount, if postage is needed.

How can I check if my mail-in ballot was received?

In almost all states, you can see your ballot’s status online. Track your ballot

Participating states — 47 states and the District of Columbia — select their own website for voters to track the status of their mail-in ballot. Some states, such as North Carolina, offer text or email alerts as your ballot is processed.

Voters in three states that have no ballot tracking systems available at the state or county level — Mississippi, Missouri, and Wyoming – can inquire with their local election office.

I like to vote in person. Where do I vote on Tuesday, Nov. 3?

At a vote center or your polling location, which may have changed since you last voted. Find out where

If you received a mail-in ballot, bring it with you, otherwise you may be required to vote provisionally.

Vote centers — permitted to operate in 17 states — differ from neighborhood precinct-based polling places in that any voter in that jurisdiction can cast their vote, regardless of their residential address.

If you choose to vote at a traditional polling place on Election Day, it is important to go to your current, designated polling location, because other locations will not have your name on their voter roster.

  • Use our Voter Resources tool or contact your state or local election office to learn how you can find your designated in-person polling place.
  • Polling locations are based on your voter registration address. They can be located in schools, fire stations, and private homes. Your polling location is not permanent and may differ from election to election, for example, as a result of changes to precinct boundaries or number of registered voters.
  • If you do not go to your designated polling location, you may be able to vote by provisional ballot. All states except Idaho, Minnesota, and New Hampshire provide provisional ballots, which voters can request at polling places, for example, if their name cannot be found on the poll list. The reasons for accepting and the process for handling provisional ballots vary by state.
  • If the line is long, please remain in line. Polls will remain open as long as people began waiting in line before the poll's scheduled close time. Polling hours vary by location. They are generally open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm.

Before you head to the polls, check to see if you need to bring identification. Thirty-five states require some type of ID for all voters, with specific rules varying by state.

  • Check if your state requires identification, and if so, photo or non-photo ID.
  • Voters who are not carrying the type of required ID to the polls may still be able to cast a provisional ballot, though additional steps may be required (for example, presenting the required ID at an election office within a specified period of time).
  • If you are a first-time voter, in any state, bring ID with you to the polls. Federal law requires first-time voters who did not register in person to present identification at the polls.

What will be on my ballot?

Your representative in Congress, in the White House, and more. See your ballot

Up for your votes are all 435 House seats, 35 Senate seats, 13 governors, many city mayors, state and local measures — and the presidency of the United States.

What will be on your ballot is determined by the state, county, and city you reside in.

How sample ballots are provided varies by state.

If you're registered to vote, many states will mail you a sample ballot and voter information guide about 2–5 weeks before Election Day. Some states may make sample ballots available at polling locations, while others publish them in local newspapers.

Voter information guides include candidate statements and descriptions of ballot initiatives. Voters can learn more through resources such as Ballotpedia.org and the opinion section of your local newspapers.

When will we find out election results?

Two words: Be patient. Here’s why

With the anticipated historically large number of mail-in ballots due to the pandemic, election results are unlikely to be available as promptly as we’ve come to expect.

Some states, such as Florida and Arizona, begin counting mail-in ballots weeks before Election Day and may have their results shortly after polls close.

But many states may need days or weeks after Election Day before they are able to report results. Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are among the states where election officials do not begin counting ballots until Election Day.

During the primaries earlier this year, some counties in Pennsylvania were still counting ballots a week after voting concluded.

I have more questions.

Your election office has answers. Learn more

Under the U.S. Constitution, federal and state elections are administered by states. Each election office sets its own rules and provides its own voting information for their jurisdiction.

As you cast your vote, don’t let your friends get left behind! Election Day is Nov. 3 — remind your family and friends to vote early, if they can!

The right to vote is at the heart of our democracy.