In this critical election year, as we continue to safeguard against the COVID-19 pandemic, every voter should be using this month to learn the voting options and deadlines in their state.
2020 Vote Graphic

© Anatoliy - AdobeStock

Key Takeaways:

  • With the pandemic still raging, expect complications on election day.

  • Check your state and county websites now for information on your voting options.

  • Before the end of August, make a plan A and a plan B for voting, and urge your sphere of influence to do the same.

One of the most important things I’ve learned during the pandemic is that I need to plan ahead. In March and April, my husband and I were running out of essential household items. I would go to the store and find that they were out of the same things we were.

Now I’m so good at planning ahead that I know exactly how much toilet paper we have and how long it will last, and I have a plan for restocking.

I have never voted during a pandemic and am assuming that things will go wrong during the 2020 election. People who want to vote will need to have a plan. That plan should be in place by the end of August. If you need to register to vote, you can do so now through the REALTOR® Party website. If you aren’t sure whether you’re registered, you can also verify your registration there.

Then, start to plan. Check your state and county websites for voter information. Voting, like real estate, is regulated at the state level and administered locally. You may have multiple options for voting, including early in-person voting and voting by absentee ballot. Choose one or two options and build a plan A and a plan B. Assume that the pandemic will be worse by November and that the flu season will be underway. Choose the option that feels the safest.

My plan A is to use my absentee ballot, which I’ve already applied for, and mail it back by October 15. I won’t risk having my ballot discounted because it didn’t arrive in time to be counted. My plan B, if my absentee ballot doesn’t arrive by the end of September, is to take advantage of early in-person voting the first week of October. Your state election website should provide information on how to obtain an absentee ballot, where to mail or bring your ballot, and what the deadline is for receiving ballots. See all state deadlines.

Even though I’m planning to vote early—and I encourage others to do so because it’s safer—I’ll be at the polls on election day. I’m serving as a volunteer election judge. I can’t think of any better use of my time or any better way to serve my country and my community.

Some counties have a desperate need for poll workers, and it isn’t too late to volunteer. Without enough poll workers, polling places will be closed, and there will be long lines at those that remain open. There will be people who want to vote in person who will not be able to. Counties are working to make polling places as safe as possible with social distancing, wearing face masks, and sanitizing everything between voters. For me, it’s worth the risk.

Over the next three months, I urge you to help spread the word to your fellow REALTORS®, friends, and clients. I’ve been reaching out to my local associations and to neighbors, past clients, and pretty much anyone who will listen to me about creating a plan for voting this year and about helping others vote by being a poll worker or election judge. I’ve put articles on my blog and used Facebook and Twitter to amplify my message. As a REALTOR®, I care about my community, and I care about the outcome of local and national elections.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote. Women fought for the vote for almost 100 years. As a woman, I will never take my right to vote for granted, and you shouldn’t either.

Voting Rights Milestones in 2020

  • 55 YEARS: The Voting Rights Act, signed by President Lyndon Johnson Aug. 6, 1965, outlawed discriminatory voting practices.
  • 100 YEARS: The 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote, was approved by Congress in 1919 and ratified Aug. 18, 1920.
  • 150 YEARS: The 15th amendment, banning voting restrictions on the basis of race, color, or previous servitude, was approved by Congress in 1869 and ratified March 30, 1870.