Part 1. Preparing the vote: registering voters & removing barriers to voting

vote-webinar-graphic-2-01To win on #HIV this year, our community must be ready to vote before going to the polls! Use the information below to make sure you and your allies are prepared for Election Day. The links include resources for registering to vote, finding out eligibility rules in your state, knowing your rights, and tips for getting others registered and making voting more accessible. #PWNVotes!

1. Find out the rules and requirements for voting in your state. Many people who believe they are not allowed to vote may actually be eligible to vote, depending on the relevant state laws.

2. Register to vote! You can also check your voter registration status online or sign up to receive an absentee ballot.

Remember to check the voter registration deadlines, which are different in each state. Click here to find the voter registration deadline in your state and additional information, such as when registration forms must be postmarked, as well as links to states’ online voter registration forms, where available.

3. Help others get registered to vote. Supporting your sisters and allies in exercising their right to vote is a critical way you can amplify the voices of women living with HIV this election cycle.

There are many resources geared toward non-profit organizations, such as this resource on filling out and returning voter registration forms, which contain information relevant to anyone registering their self or others to vote. You can also find answers to common questions about registering to vote here.

Consider hosting a voter registration drive. Information about hosting a registration drive can be found online for many states. You can also contact your local elections officials for more information. This Voter Registration Checklist offers some steps to take when planning a voter registration event, such as finding information about voting in your state, recruiting volunteers, setting up tables and chairs, and promoting the event. You can also check out these tips for asking someone to register to vote at a tabling-style voter registration event.

4. Make voting more accessible: use and encourage options like early voting and absentee ballots. Early voting, which many states have, allows people to vote early at an election office or another designated location prior to Election Day, without having to provide an excuse for why they are voting early. Absentee ballot voting, which all states provide in some form, allows a person to cast their ballot by mail or in-person at a location other than the polling place on Election Day. Like voter registration, the deadlines for early voting and absentee ballots vary from state to state.

5. Know your rights! Check out the resources below to help ensure that every eligible person in your community is able to exercise their right to vote.

You can find state-by-state information related to voting for people with disabilities online, including information from national and local disability rights and advocacy organizations, and resources from state agencies.

It is also important to remember that being incarcerated or having a conviction on your record does not necessarily mean that you can’t vote! In fact, there are some states where voting rights are automatically restored when someone is released from prison (but people must re-register to vote!). Laws about voting rights for people with criminal records vary from state to state: click here for an overview of the voting rights of people who are incarcerated, on parole or probation, and/or have a felony conviction in each state. More detailed information can be found here.

You don’t need a permanent address in order to register to vote. Find links to resources and answers to frequently asked questions about voting while experiencing homelessness by clicking here.

6. Staying safe while voting: the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) provides information and resources related to safety and privacy considerations for survivors of domestic violence, including when a survivor is exercising their right to vote. Some states offer Confidential Voter Listing programs to keep survivors’ addresses private on election-related records, which would otherwise be publicly available. NNEDV’s website also provides a pamphlet for survivors and advocates with recommendations for enhancing safety while exercising the right to vote.

7. To find more information or ask questions about voting in your area, you can always reach out to your local election officials. There are several online tools available to find local election offices and contact information, look up deadlines, eligibility, and voter registration status in your state, get links to state election center websites, and more.