The United States is all set for the big day on November 3. With a large number of people choosing early voting due to COVID-19 restrictions, here are a set of rules to be followed while casting your vote.
Meanwhile, the latest development, Judge Amy Coney Barrett has been confirmed as Supreme Court judge by the Senate and President Donald Trump has sworn her in. Activists are staging a protest outside the Supreme Court in the wake of the confirmation.
Coming back to the voting protocol, here is what you need to know if you are planning to go for early voting.
What's the Early Voting Deadline?
Early voting is allowed until October 31. You will have to wait for November 3 if you do not cast your vote by 5 p.m. on October 31. On weekdays people are allowed to vote from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. If you are planning to cast your vote at Fairfax County Government Center, it is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
If you choose to cast your vote on Saturday, the office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, as Saturday, October 31, is the last day for early voting, expect a large turnout and be ready to stand in queues for long hours.
Voting by Mail
If you choose to mail your ballot, postmark it by November 3. However, there are chances of it being received on November 6. Another option is drop-off box. You will get the drop-off box at early voting site during its functioning hours. Just like early voting, the last day to use the drop-off box is October 31, and the poll closes at 5 p.m. You can use drop-off boxes to vote on the day of election on November 3 too. The boxes will be available at every polling booth.
Another option is casting your vote in the 24-hour box at the Fairfax County Government Center. This box will be closed on 7 p.m. on the day of Election. But remember, while using the drop-off box, put the filled-in B envelop inside the return mailing envelop. Use the state portal to track your ballot.
Voting in Person
Polling booths will be open on November 3, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. While voting in person, one needs to check and confirm the registration status and the booth you are supposed to cast your vote. Bring acceptable form of identification.
It is stated that changes to polling places are possible due to the COVID-19 situation. There may be change of locations, layouts, procedures, and availability of translators for those with language barriers. So, it is advised to check the details of polling close to the election day.
What is banned at Polling Centers?
Arms are not allowed at the polling sites. This rule is applicable to those opting for early voting as well as for those voting in person. Carrying guns is prohibited in all Fairfax County polling centers.
Those who want to be a poll watcher must present a written authorization form signed by a county, district or state party chair or candidate. People are banned from loitering around polling booths without proper authorization. But even poll watchers are banned from campaigning inside the polling place. They cannot wear clothing with political messages on it, use buttons, or any signs, display referring to a candidate. Stopping or delaying a qualified voter from casting his/her vote is also prohibited. In the same way assisting someone to cast their vote is also not allowed.
Use of Mask and Social Distancing
Though Republican candidate Donald Trump appeared without mask during his campaigns, despite being tested positive, voters have been asked to wear a cloth face covering while casting their vote. The USA still has highest number of coronavirus cases in the world at 8,962,783 cases as of October 26, while 231,045 people died of the virus.
Markers have been placed on the ground in the polling booths to remind voters to sand six feet apart. Authorities have asked people to follow social distancing rules while casting the vote. Voters have also been asked to maintain hygiene and wash hands before and after casting the vote. Voters better bring hand sanitizers to ensure their safety.