With the 2022 midterm elections’ final day of voting on Nov. 8, it’s time to really get cracking on getting out your vote. After the past few years, you may have decided to skip the polling place and cast your vote by mail instead. If you've already sent in your ballot (or are just anxious about what happens after you do), you might be wondering: Was my absentee ballot received? While tracking varies from state to state, you can check on the status of your ballot to make sure it gets counted for sure.
Also known as “absentee ballots,” mail-in ballots typically must be applied for in many states. Thankfully, voters can visit a few sites, like Vote.org, to fill out an application for a mail-in ballot in their state. Once you've secured your absentee ballot and filled it out, you can send it in by mail or at an approved drop-off location, like your closest election office or a secure ballot dropbox. From there, the wait is on. When applying for and mailing in your absentee ballot, keep in mind your state’s deadlines: Each state has their own unique timeline when it comes to accepting applications for mail-in ballots, as well as counting them toward the election results. For example, while Alaska’s mail-in ballots must be “postmarked by Election Day and received 10 days after Election Day,” Montana’s mail-in ballots must be “received by 8pm on Election Day,” per Vote.org – so it’s best to get your ballot in as soon as you can.
According to NBC News, all 50 states and Washington, D.C. offer some way to track your mail-in ballot after it's sent in, although it's easier in some places than others. In some cases, you may need to go through your Secretary of State's office or your state's Board of Elections to see the status of your ballot. If your state doesn't have a universal system for tracking ballots, you'll first want to head to your county’s Board of Elections website to obtain tracking information. After you request your absentee ballot, you can also keep an eye out for a confirmation email with information about tracking. You can also contact local election officials by phone or email if you can't find your tracking information.
When it comes to your vote being counted, keeping track of your mail-in ballot is a lot more crucial that you may think. During the 2020 primary elections, 500,000 ballots weren't counted due to minor mistakes, per The Washington Post. So, you might want to consider tracking your ballot to make sure your voice is heard. Plus, if there are any problems with your ballot, it will give you enough time to remedy any issues or cast a provisional ballot.
While many states allow you to track your ballot online by entering your first and last name in a tracking portal, you should also save the tracking number on your ballot in case. Depending on where you live, you might also need to enter your Social Security number, your date of birth, or other personal information to locate it.
Was My Absentee Ballot Counted?
Don’t forget, it’s not enough for your state to receive your ballot — they have to count it, too. In Pennsylvania, thousands of mail-in ballots cast in the 2022 midterms are at risk of being thrown out, due to the fact they were sent in without a date on them. The state’s mail-in ballot laws require that voters “fill in, date, and sign” a form on the return envelope, but it’s not clear if ballots can be thrown out for lacking a date. As of Nov. 7, lawsuits over the issue are ongoing, per NPR. In the meantime, state election officials are encouraging people to check whether their ballots need to be corrected: Philadelphia and Allegheny counties have lists of flawed ballots for voters to check.
If you find that your ballot got lost or there’s a problem with it, don’t panic. In many states, you can still go and vote by provisional ballot at an in-person polling place. (Idaho, Minnesota and New Hampshire don’t allow provisional ballots.) These ballots are set aside to be counted and added to the official tally after officials confirm your eligibility to vote, but remember that some states will require you to take follow-up action to get that ballot counted.
With Nov. 8 here, it's important to make sure your voice is heard — however you cast your ballot.
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