It's the day after Election Day, and thankfully for most voters, it was a straightforward process with short wait times at the polls. But some voters now need to take additional steps to ensure their votes count, especially if they voted by mail or were forced to use a provisional ballot. Even now, you can successfully "cure" your ballot, a process in which you can fix any problems and make sure your vote is counted.
What are the common reasons people may need to cure their ballots? In many states, the curing process is used to correct ballots with missing or mismatched signatures, identification issues, or missing pieces of your vote-by-mail package. Your state will notify you if there is a problem with your ballot. That gives you a short window — typically a few days — to correct the issue so that your ballot is not rejected.
How can voters get through the "cure" process successfully? The Advancement Project National Office has a number of resources to help you track and cure your ballot. This includes instructions for key states like Florida and Georgia.
Here are the answers to some common questions around curing an absentee or provisional ballot.
What should I do if my vote-by-mail ballot was initially rejected?
If your ballot was rejected, you have a right to cure your ballot and have your vote counted! Sometimes absentee ballots are rejected for mistakes on the ballot. If you made a mistake, don't worry! Many states provide a cure period for you to fix your mistake and make sure your ballot is accepted!
What if I voted a provisional ballot?
If you voted yesterday and your name did not appear on the rolls, or there was an issue with your eligibility, poll workers may have offered you a provisional ballot. This gives you an opportunity to vote and make sure you're not disenfranchised. In nearly all states, provisional ballots are separated from other ballots until after Election Day. Then a determination is made about whether the voter is eligible to vote. Before the state deadline, you must provide required information to prevent your provisional ballot from being rejected. You can call your local elections office to learn what information you must provide to cure your ballot.
How common are provisional ballots? Is this a widespread problem?
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, states vary greatly in how provisional ballots are handled, in the number issued, and how many are rejected. The Election Assistance Commission tracks state policies as well as numbers of ballots. States can have as few as 100 provisional ballots cast statewide, or as many as 100,000.
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Now is not the time to leave any power on the table.
On the day before one of the most important elections of our lifetimes, my message to voters is simple: Vote! By any means necessary. Some may doubt the integrity of our democracy or that their one vote will have an impact on any given race. But know this: Voting is the way communities, especially Black and Latino communities, can translate their year-long protest of state violence into power that transforms the priorities of our nation.
In making the decision to vote this year, we must recognize it's been a tumultuous year. The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, Breonna Taylor and others — as well as the global coronavirus pandemic — disproportionately claimed the lives of Black people. This year's ballot isn't just about the presidential candidates. It's also about the very issues that affect our communities: health care, education, racial justice and the economy.
This year, the nation will also elect thousands of sheriffs, judges and district attorneys who have massive power over arrests, jail conditions and immigration enforcement. These races are critical in states like Georgia where the Advancement Project National Office partnered with New Georgia Project to launch a Know Your Sheriffs campaign, which educates voters on the power and role law enforcement officials have, and the power communities have to elect sheriffs that reflect their values.
To be sure, many voices have attempted to undermine the confidence Americans have in our democracy. By repeating patently false claims about voting, some have sought to sow distrust. We must understand such rhetoric is motivated by a desire to suppress the vote of Black and Latino communities. If voters of color stay home, their power and their representation will be thwarted after a successful year of building power in the streets around the globe.
Here are the facts. The protest power of Black and Latino communities has already made change once thought impossible. Breonna's Law has banned no-knock warrants in Louisville, Ky. The Minneapolis City Council started the dismantling of their Metropolitan Police Department. There's been a successful national movement to remove police from schools, an effort young people of color worked on for years.
Since 2000, eligible voters of color have accounted for more than 75% of the total U.S. electorate growth, with most of that growth coming from Black, Hispanic and Asian communities. Don't stop now. Voting is another megaphone to ensure that the voices of these communities are heard.
If you encounter any issues at the polls or need help, call the national Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE. The Advancement Project National Office will also be on the ground in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida and Georgia. Share your voting story with us on social media using #VoteBAMN (Vote. By Any Means Necessary).
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- Why long lines in early voting may signal voter suppression ›
With only 11 days before the 2020 presidential election, more than 2.3 million Georgians have voted. Even more plan to do so before the state's Oct. 30 early-voting deadline. And just as in the primaries earlier this year, Georgia voters experienced extremely long wait times at the polls. On the first day of early voting, some Georgians waited more than eight hours to vote. Voters should never have to take an entire day to participate in democracy.
In response to excessively long lines, Walter Jones, a representative from the Georgia secretary of state's office remarked, "What this means is people are really energized and engaged in this race, and we prepared for it. "
Jones failed to mention that Georgia's extreme wait times are disproportionately affecting Black and Latino voters, or that voter suppression strategies are also drivers of the state's long voting lines. While it's undeniable that states across the country are experiencing record voter turnout in this year's election, we shouldn't ignore the intentional actions taken to suppress the vote. This is a key reason why Black and Latino voters are still waiting in hours-long lines.
There are many reasons why voters may experience long lines. Polls may open late. There could be a surge in voter turnout. There may be COVID-19 safety measures. Nevertheless, voters of color have historically waited longer to vote than their white counterparts. A national analysis of cell phone data during the 2016 general election showed that voters in Black neighborhoods waited almost 30 percent longer than those in white neighborhoods. The same study showed that voters in neighborhoods of color were 74 percent more likely to face waits of more than 30 minutes.
Why are Black and Latino voters waiting longer? Sometimes, there's an intentional underinvestment of election resources in their neighborhoods. Disproportionate poll closures, fewer voting machines, and fewer poll workers all mean longer wait times for voters of color.
Since 2012, Georgia has closed 331 polling places, 82 of them in the Atlanta metropolitan area. This year, Georgia additionally rolled out new voting machines that went largely untested by the public until the state's 2020 primary elections. Technical issues contributed to the state's meltdown during the primary and extremely long lines for Georgians of color in June. Poll worker shortages due to the coronavirus pandemic also compounded voting location closures statewide.
Longer wait times for Black and Latino voters are frequently found in states with long histories of voter suppression. In 2019, a report found that Georgia improperly purged 198,351 voters from the voting rolls. This followed the purge of over 534,000 voters between 2016 and 2017.
It's critical that Black and Latino voters are able to vote in a free, fair and safe election this fall. Voting rights champions should advocate for equitable election resources for Black and Latino communities. Election officials should encourage voter resiliency during the 2020 election cycle, but also support the restoration of the Voting Rights Act. That will help block voter suppression before there are eight-hour lines.
Advocates can use resources developed by the Advancement Project's national office to help voters make a plan to vote this fall. Our democracy is counting on it.
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