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US Worried About Voting By Mail? Here's How You Can Track Your Ballot

11:30  07 october  2020
11:30  07 october  2020 Source:   newsweek.com

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What if a voter could track their ballot as easily as an Amazon package or food delivery? About six in 10 registered voters nationwide say they want to vote by mail before Election Day, according to a poll from The Washington Post and the University of Maryland.

Since Washington is one of three states (Oregon and Colorado are the other two) that vote by mail , you might want to make sure your ballot has been counted! Most counties allow you to track your ballot each step of the way: To track the status of your ballot , go to the official website of your

What if a voter could track their ballot as easily as an Amazon package or food delivery?

An election worker opens envelopes containing vote-by-mail ballots for the August 4 Washington state primary at King County Elections in Renton, Washington on August 3, 2020. © Jason Redmond/AFP/Getty Images An election worker opens envelopes containing vote-by-mail ballots for the August 4 Washington state primary at King County Elections in Renton, Washington on August 3, 2020.

With more Americans than ever expected to cast their vote by mail in this year's presidential election, dozens of states now offer online portals that allow voters to follow or receive updates about the status of their ballots every step of the way.

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"Being able to see where their ballot is in the mail stream allows voters to advocate for themselves," said Jessenia Eliza, the director of government initiatives at Democracy Works, a nonprofit organization that designed Ballot Scout, one of two major ballot tracking softwares currently available.

"In jurisdictions that don't have tracking, it's sort of a guessing game for voters," Eliza said.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, five states already held all-mail elections, meaning that ballots were automatically sent to every registered voter. Due to the ongoing health crisis, several more states have adopted such a model for the 2020 election, and roughly 30 states will allow voters to request absentee ballots without having to meet prior qualifications.

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About six in 10 registered voters nationwide say they want to vote by mail before Election Day, according to a poll from The Washington Post and the University of Maryland.

But the voting method has come under increasing scrutiny following President Donald Trump's false claims of fraud and several high-profile political controversies involving the United States Postal Service. The USPS has already warned of possible delays in election mail in 46 states.

Here's everything you need to know about tracking your ballot this election.

Where is ballot tracking available?

According to an analysis from the National Vote At Home Institute, 34 states and Washington D.C. have a website where all residents can check in on the status of their ballot. Twelve states have ballot tracking available in some counties, where voters can verify the status of their ballot through a county portal.

Election 2020: How to track your mail-in ballot

  Election 2020: How to track your mail-in ballot According to a CNN review, 45 states and the District of Columbia allow you to track your ballot just like an Amazon package or food delivery. How ballot tracking worksEach ballot gets a specific number: Most states, with the help of USPS, send ballots envelopes with a unique set of numbers for each individual voter. Those numbers are often known as Intelligent Mail Barcodes, which allow the Postal Service to track the ballot.You can register to track them: They also enable states and localities to use ballot-tracking websites.

Mark your Mail Ballot . Read the instructions carefully and be sure to note how many candidates you can vote for at the top of each race. If you want to return to an unaffiliated status after voting by mail , you may do so by updating your record here and changing your party affiliation.

Many states are expanding access to mail -in balloting , making it easier for voters concerned about the coronavirus to avoid voting in person. Subscribe to

Some portals are more sophisticated than others, but at the very least a website will allow voters to see if their ballot is on its way to them and when it's been delivered back to the election office and counted.

There are only four states that have no ballot tracking systems at the state or county level in use for the November election: Connecticut, Mississippi, Missouri, and Wyoming. If you are a voter in one of those states, you can contact your local election office for any concerns about your ballot.

Denver, Colorado was the first area to create a ballot tracking system as the county transitioned to an all-mail election for the first time in 2009. Amber McReynolds, the executive director of the National Vote At Home Institute and the elections director for Denver at the time, said the program was always geared to reassure voters.

"We wanted voters to have full transparency, accountability and communication about the status of their ballot just like you would track a package," McReynolds said. "It was designed to enhance customer service and enhance security."

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Vote by Mail : Tracking How America Votes in 2020. Election officials are worried that voter error, delayed ballots or long lines in any one of the states most closely contested -- Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Before it' s here , it' s on the Bloomberg Terminal.

Here ' s one from the group representUS, which advocates for mail -in voting , and is a little more user friendly. I took some specifics about deadlines listed below from their Connecticut is an example of a Northeast state temporarily allowing absentee voting by mail , although they do not track your ballot .

How does it work?

Voters typically only have to input their name, date of birth and address to gain access to a portal that tracks ballot status. The portal will let voters know if their ballot has been "sent" to them and if it's been received by the election office and officially accepted.

But areas that have partnered with BallotTrax and Ballot Scout, the two major ballot tracking softwares, have additional features that voters can use. These systems allow voters to sign up for instantaneous text or email alerts on everything from the status of their ballot to the deadline for mailing it back to the election office. BallotTrax, for example, can send reminders to voters letting them know it's too late to mail their ballot and instruct them to drop it off at an election office instead.

BallotTrax can also send real-time updates if the ballot has been rejected and whether it can be cured before the state deadline. The county will also notify a voter if their ballot is rejected, but the instant update is faster and will give voters more time to fix the mistake.

BallotTrax operates in a dozen states and has three statewide contracts: California, Colorado and North Carolina. The system is used in 350 counties already, and that number could rise to 500 or more by Election Day. Ballot Scout is partnered with the state of Virginia, which means that all residents there have access to the system. They've also partnered with counties in Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan and South Carolina.

Mail-in voting is safe, secure and convenient

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Ballot tracking is not just a tool for voters. Election officials can also use the system to monitor USPS movements and make sure ballots are delivered to voters. They can also get information on voter turnout, engagement and even language preference of their constituents.

"The real power of the system I think is for the election office and administrators," said Steve Olsen, the CEO of BallotTrax. "We actually track every ballot within their jurisdiction. They can see the status of each and every ballot as it moves through the process, and are able to hopefully manage their elections better and provide a better voter experience overall."

Are there any security concerns?

While the data BallotTrax and Ballot Scout collect from users is not unique, the two organizations encrypt their websites and go through ongoing security testing to protect voter information. BallotTrax said it goes through scans from the Department of Homeland Security each week to test for any potential vulnerabilities.

Jocelyn Bucaro, the director of elections in Denver, Colorado, said the city has had zero security concerns with ballot tracking since 2009. Like Ballot Scout and BallotTrax, their portal consistently goes through security testing.

"Voters should rest assured that it is a secure system," Bucaro said.

Experts also pushed back against President Trump's attacks on mail-in voting, stating there is little-to-no evidence to support his claims that the system is prone to fraud.

"Mail-in voting has been used for 200 years going back to the Civil War," said McReynolds from the National Vote At Home Institute. "Hundreds and hundreds of millions of ballots have been cast this way over a long period of time. The allegations are not correct."

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The 19th Explains: Everything you need to know about voting and Election Day 2020 .
Experts and state officials say to prepare for the reality that the country may not know who won the presidency on Election Day — or for several days (or weeks) after.Long lines due to expected record voter turnout amid a global pandemic. Ongoing concerns about online misinformation. Hundreds of lawsuits over voting. Poll workers facing changing election rules. An incumbent president who won’t guarantee a peaceful transfer of power.

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