Note: This editorial was first published on March 13, 2020 on the Channel 27 News & Entertainment, Grant County’s website.
August 16, 2020
by Chaylee N. Brock
This is the time to start thinking about how you will cast your ballot in this year’s General Election, which will take place on November 3, 2020.
We here at Channel 27 News & Entertainment have been doing our best to emphasize the importance of voting in the 2020 election. We’ve also been working to make it as easy as possible for everyone to get registered to vote by this year’s deadline. All of us on the Channel 27 team encourage our audience to exercise their American right and duty to participate in our democracy, no matter who a person may choose to vote for.
We report a lot of stories that receive angry comments from Grant County residents who are unhappy with how their city, county, state, and even country are being run, and while we try to not get too involved in those conversations, we feel it’s important to respond to those angry comments by saying: GO VOTE.
It really is that simple. If you’re upset with the status quo, the United States Constitution allows each and every one of us the opportunity to create and implement change — not by complaining on social media, but by making sure you are registered to vote and making your voice heard in any and every election.
This article contains all the information we could gather to help you vote in the 2020 General Election, so you have no excuse to not participate this fall.
Register to Vote
If, by chance, you have not yet registered to vote in the state of Indiana, you still have time! The deadline to be registered for the 2020 General Election is October 5th.
Channel 27 News & Entertainment recently partnered with Rock The Vote to help register everyone who follows us.
If you’re interested in registering to vote today (the earlier the better!), we’ve done everything we can to make the process quick and easy.
You can register to vote by simply filling out this form:
Or you can register to vote by clicking on one of these two links:
Update Voter Registration Information
If you need to update your address or any other important information, you can do so on the IndianaVoters website by CLICKING HERE.
Once on the IndianaVoters website, you need to click on Check Your Registration Record in order to both find and update your registration information. You can also click that link in order to learn about your polling place, voting hours, your current registration status, and even see your past voting record.
It is incredibly important to make sure your voter registration information is up to date, as it determines your district, your polling place, and where any mail, including absentee/mail-in ballots, will be sent.
Vote by Absentee/Mail-In Ballot
There has been some recent confusion about the difference between absentee ballots and mail-in ballots, but the good news is this: they’re basically the exact same thing!
Some states in the U.S. offer universal mail-in ballots to all of their residents, but in other states (like Indiana), the ballots that are mailed in an election are called “absentee ballots.” One of the biggest differences between the two is that, in “mail-in” ballot states, all residents have access to the use of mail-in ballots without needing to give an excuse. However, in states like Indiana, which have “absentee” ballots, you have to fill out an application in order to receive your mail-in ballot, and you also have to give the state a valid, acceptable excuse for needing to use a mail-in ballot, instead of voting in person.
For more information on the definition of and differences between mail-in ballots and absentee ballots, you can read this great article published at CNET: https://www.cnet.com/how-to/mail-in-voting-versus-absentee-voting-whats-the-difference/
When Indiana held its Primary Election in June of 2020, the state saw a surge in absentee/mail-in voters, because Governor Eric Holcomb suspended any need for a valid excuse in order to get a ballot, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Hoosiers took advantage of the absentee/mail-in option, but despite the influx, the whole process seemed to run pretty smoothly, and there has yet to be any evidence of widespread voter fraud.
Nevertheless, many politicians, at all levels, try to argue that voting by mail, in any capacity, leads to an increase in voter fraud, but the numbers simply aren’t there to prove that claim. It has been debunked as a myth by both media and governmental organizations, including the Voter Fraud Commission that was created (and then disbanded) by President Ttump.
In fact, the Washington Post put out an article in June of 2020, which explains that voter fraud committed through absentee/mail-in voting is incredibly rare.
[A] Washington Post analysis of data collected by three vote-by-mail states with help from the nonprofit Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) found that officials identified just 372 possible cases of double voting or voting on behalf of deceased people out of about 14.6 million votes cast by mail in the 2016 and 2018 general elections, or 0.0025 percent.
Unfortunately, Indiana is not a state with a robust, universal vote-by-mail system, and in order to qualify for an absentee/mail-in ballot for November, voters have to fill out an application form and provide the state with a valid excuse as to why they cannot go to their polling location on election day. As of today, August 16th, 2020, Governor Eric Holcomb has not yet designated COVID-19 concerns to be a valid excuse for absentee voting in the 2020 General Election, and it’s not clear whether or not he plans to make that designation.
Since Governor Holcomb did suspend the need for an excuse for absentee/mail-in voting during the Indiana Primary, it seems the rules surrounding the General Election could still change, but it will probably depend on Indiana’s spread and infection rate of COVID-19 in the coming weeks and months.
So, as of now, what excuses will be considered valid for receiving an absentee ballot? Here are the options voters have to choose from while filling out their application for an absentee ballot:
If you can legitimately claim one of those acceptable excuses and you want to vote by absentee ballot, your first step is to download and print the ballot application from IndianaVoters.com.
When you visit the website at https://indianavoters.in.gov/MVPHome/PrintDocuments, you want to find the ABS-MAIL: Application for Absentee Ballot link. When you click on that link, the application form will automatically download to your computer.
Once you have downloaded your ballot application (see above), you can either fill it out on the computer and then print it out, or you can print it out and fill it out by hand.
When finished with the application, you need to submit it, by either mailing it or submitting it in person. Here are the addresses where you need to submit your application, depending on the county in which you live and vote.
The deadline for submitting your absentee ballot application for the 2020 General Election is October 22, 2020 at 11:59 PM.
Once/if your application is approved, you will receive your absentee ballot in the mail, at the address found on your voter registration form.
When you receive and fill out your ballot for the 2020 General Election, it’s important to note that you do NOT have to submit it through the mail.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen increasing concern surrounding the United States Postal Service and its ability to handle the number of absentee/mail-in ballots this election season. A recent New York Times article explains that “voters and postal workers warn a crisis is building that could disenfranchise record numbers of Americans who will be casting ballots by mail in November…” (Read more about these concerns here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/15/us/post-office-vote-by-mail.html)
How can you make sure you bypass any potential delays in your absentee/mail-in ballot reaching its destination, or prevent your ballot from never being received at all?
If you do choose to mail in your ballot, the most important advice is to get your ballot as soon as possible, fill it out immediately, and get it mailed back within a day or two. All absentee ballots in Indiana must be received by noon on election day, November 3, 2020, but election officials have been pushing the importance of getting your ballot submitted as quickly and as early as possible.
If you would rather not take the chance of putting your ballot in the mail, or if you happen to not fill out your ballot until the last minute, you can also submit your ballot in-person, which gives you more assurance that the ballot has been received and will be counted. Each county has it’s own drop-off location, usually at the same address to which you would have mailed your ballot.
Usually, absentee/mail-in voters receive a prepaid envelope in order to return their ballot, however, given the current COVID-19 pandemic, states will likely see a surge in absentee/mail-in voters, and it’s not yet clear if postage will be provided for the 2020 election. When we find out whether or not Hoosiers will have to pay their own postage fees, we will update this article.
Early In-Person Voting/In-Person Absentee Voting
The State of Indiana allows all eligible, registered voters residing within the state to cast their General Election votes early.
This year, early voting (also called in-person absentee voting) will be available to Hoosiers starting on October 6th and running through November 2nd.
Early voting locations and hours vary by county, so you will have to contact your county clerk’s office to get more information.
All Hoosiers voting early in-person must be prepared to provide a photo I.D. According to the Indiana state website, an acceptable form of photo I.D. must meet the following requirements: Display the voter’s photo
- Display the voter’s name, and the name must conform with the voter registration record
- Display an expiration date and either be current or have expired sometime after the date of the last General Election (November 8, 2016)
- Be issued by the State of Indiana or the U.S. government
Voting In-Person on Election Day: November 3, 2020
All polling locations across the state will be open on November 3rd from 6:00AM until 6:00PM. If you are not sure where your polling place is located, you can find out by again visiting the Voter Portal (step-by-step directions for accessing this portal was given in the “Update Voter Registration Information” section above) or by clicking on “Find My Polling Place” on the IndianaVoters website, here: https://indianavoters.in.gov/
You can also contact your county clerk for more information. (Grant County: 765-664-9880)
While most people are familiar with the process of voting in-person at his or her local polling place, Grant County will be adopting a new voting option for its residents this election year: voting centers.
In a press release received and published by Channel 27 News & Entertainment, the Grant County Election Advisory Board announced and explained this transition to voting centers in Grant County:
In the Fall Election for 2020 Grant County will be moving to Vote Centers as an alternative to traditional, neighborhood-based precincts. This move will allow voters to cast their ballots on Election Day at any Vote Center in Grant County, regardless of their residential address. Indiana is among more than sixteen states across the nation that allows for Vote Centers.
The switch to Vote Centers will allow Grant County to offer more convenience to citizens of our county allowing them to vote near home, near work, school or any of the eleven centers proposed.
It was also announced that the Grant County Election Advisory Board is looking to get input from the community about the transition to voting centers. There will be a public meeting on the topic on Thursday, August 27th at 6 p.m. at College Wesleyan Church at 200 E 38th St., Marion, IN.
Anyone attending the meeting in-person will be required to wear a mask and practice social distancing guidelines.
For anyone wanting to attend the meeting but unable or unwilling to do so in-person, the meeting will be streamed live online. For instructions on how to view the meeting live stream, visit this link: http://votegrantcounty.net/Content/Default/ANNOUNCEMENTS/Article/How-to-access-the-Grant-County-Commissioner-s-Council-Meeting-Via-WebEx/-3/57/54
There has been a Facebook event page created for this meeting, as well, which you can find and RSVP for the meeting at: https://www.facebook.com/events/221923175822698/
The description on the Facebook Events page explains that “[t]he Grant County Democratic Party and the Grant County Republican Party have participated jointly in an advisory committee that has helped work through decisions in the transition to Vote Centers. We are communicating this public meeting together because all voters in Grant County deserve to have their voices heard.”
The press release about these changes and the upcoming public meeting also listed eleven proposed voting center locations. To see the full list of these potential voting centers, please visit our article entitled “Grant County Election Advisory Board Looking For Public Input,” which includes both the list and the press release in its entirety, at https://ch27.tv/grant-county-election-advisory-board-looking-for-public-input/
For any questions or more information on how you can vote this November, we encourage you to contact your local county clerk’s office (contact information provided above). Also, feel free to shoot the Channel 27 team a message through our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/tysonmediaoutlet/), and we’ll do our best to help answer any questions and prepare you for the 2020 General Election.
If any of the information in this article changes between now and election day, we will be sure to update it and share it on social media.