So You Moved During the Pandemic. Now How Do You Vote?

So You Moved During the Pandemic. Now How Do You Vote?

“Where do you live?” might have been an easy question to answer before the pandemic.

But now, the answer is often prefaced with a complicated story of fleeing a city for your parents’ house with a yard, relocating to a second home or the suburbs, or moving around for the fun of it, or because your previous housing fell through.

So amid remote work, Zoom classes and general pandemic chaos, voting — and the sometimes confusing rules surrounding it — may be the last thing on your mind.

With Nov. 3 just around the corner, here’s what you should know about voting after relocating during the pandemic.

Residency requirements for voting vary from state to state. For example, the New York State Board of Elections says you need to be a resident of the state as well as the county, city or village where you plan to vote for at least 30 days before the election.

There are three main ways to vote: in person, by mail or with an absentee ballot.

To vote in person, simply show up at your assigned polling location on Election Day. Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia offer early voting in person, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan advocacy group.

You can also vote by mail. All registered voters in California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia will automatically get a ballot in the mail.

Absentee voting, also called mail-in voting, is another option, allowing you to vote in elections specific to your permanent address while you’re residing elsewhere (including outside the state or the country). In 35 states, either no excuse is required to vote absentee or avoiding the coronavirus is accepted as a reason for wanting to do so.

Six states require an excuse besides the virus to vote absentee: Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

So don’t procrastinate.

If you’re living at or near your college, you can vote there. Follow local guidelines for voter registration. Most schools have polling locations on campus, too.

And in states that impose certain obligations on residents, students who declare residency — whether accidentally or on purpose — by registering to vote where they go to school may face fewer such residency requirements. For instance, most states exempt students from having to get a state driver’s license or ID.

People experiencing homelessness are able to vote in all 50 states.

If you’re staying with friends or relatives and can receive mail at their home, you can use their address to register.

You can also use the address of a shelter where you stay or frequently visit, and it is also permissible to list a street corner or park as a residence on some states’ voter registration forms.


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