Democrat, Republican, or Independent. Conservative, Liberal, or somewhere in the middle. Our shared history as citizens of the United States of America is one of fiercely defending our freedoms and striving for better lives for ourselves and our children. And what binds together us as Americans? It is our right to vote, our right to freely express our point of view through our elected representatives. Voting is our tool to protect and maintain our freedom to live as we choose.
In any election year, it is good to have a plan of how you’ll cast your ballot, but this year the coronavirus pandemic and the controversies swirling around the 2020 election has added some additional complications. But you can take some easy-to-follow steps to be sure your vote counts and your voice is heard.
To vote you must be registered. You may register to vote in Nebraska or Iowa if you are: a U.S. citizen, 18 years or older on the next election day, and a resident of the state you are registering in. If you have been convicted of a felony you are ineligible to vote in Iowa unless your rights have been restored and in Nebraska you cannot vote until two years after the completion of your sentence including any probation or parole term.
Vote by Mail!
For those who have concerns about voting at the polls in person a mail-in ballot is a good option. All registered voters in both Nebraska and Iowa are permitted to vote by mail. Early ballot applications have already been sent to every registered voter in Nebraska. On September 28 the ballots themselves will begin to go out. In Iowa registered voters may request an absentee ballot to be sent to them by mail. You must complete an absentee ballot request form and return the original, signed form to your county auditor. In Iowa a written application for a mailed absentee ballot must arrive at the office of you county’s auditor no later than 5:00 p.m. 10 days before the November 3 election.
The USPS is recommending that you mail your completed early ballot by October 27. However some experts have raised concerns about U.S. Postal Service delivery times and are urging voters to return their completed ballots no later than October 20. You can also bypass the USPS. In Nebraska you can drop off your ballot at one of the designated drop boxes. Check with your county election commission or do a web search to find the drop box locations. In Iowa the Secretary of State’s Office has said that Iowa law does not allow the use of drop boxes for ballots. “However, county auditors can set up a no-contact delivery system for voters in their office to use during regular business hours,” said a spokesman for the Iowa Secretary of State’s office.
Vote in Person!
As you would expect election officials are making a number of changes to help protect voters’ health at polling places. Many polling places have been moved to new locations, so be sure to double check your poll location before you head out the door. Election workers will be doing all they can to insure a safe environment inside polling buildings.
The Omaha World-Herald reports that “[m]asks will be mandatory for election workers, but optional for voters. Voters are not required to wear masks, but state and local election officials recommend it. The state will make masks available for voters who show up without them.” If you vote in person, be patient. With the new health and safety protocols it may take a little longer to vote in this election than it has in previous ones.
Be a Poll Worker!
Elections are the backbone of our democracy. Election workers are essential to ensuring a safe, fair election for all voters, but America is facing a critical shortage of poll workers this year due to the pandemic. If you want to support democracy and get paid in the process, sign up to be a poll worker. For more information on becoming a poll worker contact your county election office and powerthepolls.org can email or text you information on becoming a poll worker.
Vote. Your opinion matters and your voice needs to be heard. It’s up to you to protect and maintain your freedom.