As parents, we’re constantly thinking about how we can make our children’s futures as bright as possible. And while providing a safe, happy loving home where they can learn, explore, and grow is a huge part of that, so is using our voices to vote.

Our votes today will shape the world that our kids inherit tomorrow. Plus, when we vote, we set an example of what it looks like to take part in our democracy (research even shows that parental voting informs kids’ voting habits!).

Of course, this year voting looks a little different…not only is there the big hurdle of a global pandemic, but as a result, many states are offering new ways to cast a ballot (here’s a state-by-state guide to COVID-19-related changes.) So, here are a few tips for doing your civic duty…while still keeping your family safe from COVID-19.

Register to vote in time!

This one’s probably a no-brainer, but before you can cast a ballot, you must be registered to vote in your state. Each state has different deadlines, so it is important to make sure that you are within the legal window to get yourself registered. Confirm that you are registered or find out how to register here.

Mail in your ballot.

[10/28 UPDATE: Election experts are now urging voters to use drop-off locations instead of mailing ballots. In states that require ballots to arrive by November 3rd, with the volume of mail the USPS is getting, it is too late to guarantee that your ballot will be received in time to be counted!].

We know that crowds and confined spaces boost COVID transmission…why not bypass both of those risk factors by mailing in your ballot? Plus, vote-by-mail means you won’t have to wait in line, and you can do it before election day.

If you’re planning on voting by mail, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Your main-in vote will still count! Ex-pats (people who are American citizens living in foreign countries) can and do cast ballots. For example, there are over 600,000 ex-pats in Canada alone.
  • As with registering to vote, each state has own rules around mail-in voting. It’s important to know when and how you are allowed to vote by mail where you live. In many states you still have to complete an application to receive your mail-in ballot. Check out the rules in your state here.
  • Follow all of the directions carefully! For example, you forget to sign your ballot it might not get counted. Make sure you read the instructions before you fill out your ballot. Remember, measure twice, cut once! 

Do a ballot drop.

Nearly every state now allows voters to drop off their ballots instead of mailing them—however, you’ll want to check in advance to make sure there’s a drop box near you. While ballot drop boxes are plentiful in some cities, in others, they might be few and far between. In most states you are also able to drop your ballot at the county Board of Elections. Learn more about the drop-off options near you by visiting your local election board website.

Explore early voting.

Another way to avoid crowds is to vote before election day…early voting allows you to cast your ballot in person prior to November 3. Check out the early voting rules by state here.

How to safely vote in person:

If mail-in voting is not an option or you’d rather vote in person on election day, there a few things to keep in mind: 

  • First of all, deep breaths. Yes, there is a pandemic and the risk of infection is real, but if you take precautions you can vote in person and keep your family healthy!
  • Wear a mask, bring your own hand sanitizer, and stay at least six feet away from other people. Wash your hands as soon as you finish voting.
  • Check to make sure your polling station hasn’t changed. Some polling stations have shut down and others have moved because of the pandemic. Make sure you know where you are going before you leave your house.
  • Try to vote during non-peak hours (right before and right after work tend to be busiest).
  • Dress warmly and bring an umbrella in case of inclement weather. You may be waiting in line outside.
  • As excited as you may be to cast your vote, do not wear anything that shows your support for a candidate…in many areas it’s actually illegal!
  • It’s possible that lines will be long—especially with everyone taking extra precautions this year. Come prepared to wait with a snack, bottle of water, and something to read.
  • Be kind and patient with poll workers and give them plenty of physical space, since they are exposed to everyone who will be voting at that station.
  • If social distancing is not being practiced, report it to an election official at the polling station.
  • Turn your phone off and keep it put away.
  • Before snapping a ballot selfie, look up the laws in your state. Some states have banned ballot selfies and it could jeopardize your ballot or lead to legal trouble (aka don’t risk it all for the ‘gram!).

No matter how you decide to vote, know that choosing to vote means that you’re modeling good civic engagement and you’re doing your part to help ensure a happier future for your little one…and the rest of the country, too!

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.