Election 2020: Your Guide for How to Vote and Track Your Ballot

NBCLX is gearing up for the 2020 election with our #LXtion2020 voter guide

President Trump and Vice President Biden don’t agree on much, but they both claim this is the most important election of our lifetime. So how do you plan to participate? Activism and protesting can make a difference, but there’s nothing more effective than voting.


  • TRACK YOUR BALLOT: NBC News has an interactive map to help you understand your voting options to plan how you’ll vote and then help you track your ballot once you do. Each state has slightly different deadlines for when you must register to vote or request an absentee/mail ballot, so don't miss the deadlines in your state! Find the map HERE.
  • If possible, many experts recommend voting in-person during early voting periods to both avoid crowds and eliminate any possibility of losing your ballot. 47 states plus Washington, D.C. all offer this option. Connecticut, Oregon, and New Hampshire are the only states where that’s not an option.
The US Postal Service isn’t delivering mail as quickly as it used to, but the situation – with only two months until Election Day – doesn’t appear to be as dire as the picture painted by some members of Congress. NBCLX, in partnership with the NBC Owned Television Stations in a dozen cities across the country, is testing the speed of first-class mail delivery each month leading up to the election, as more Americans are expected to vote by mail than ever before.


This November, 44 states plus D.C. will allow voters to request a mail-in ballot, also known as an absentee ballot. If you plan to vote by mail, this checklist will help you vote successfully.

  • Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Indiana, and South Carolina do not allow voting by mail without a verified excuse, and those six states will not accept COVID-19 as a valid excuse. However, you can vote early in-person in all six states, and that’s your best approach.
  • In the other 44 states, request your ballot early!
Claims of widespread vote-by-mail fraud have been tweeted and retweeted by President Trump. However there is little to no evidence to back them up. NBCLX’s Chase Cain takes measures into his own hands to uncover the truth about mail-in ballots as part of his new series about election myths and conspiracy theories.
  • Once you receive your ballot, follow the instructions carefully! The most common reason a ballot is rejected is because a voter didn’t follow the instructions on the ballot. For instance, don’t just scribble your signature on the envelope, because it must resemble the signature on your voting file. Try to sign the way your signature appears on your official government ID. You may also want to consider updating your file if your signature has changed over the years.
  • After you fill out your ballot, your most reliable option is to return the ballot directly to your local elections office (if available). Many offices now offer secure drop-boxes.
  • If an in-person drop-off isn’t possible, mail the ballot early! At least one week before Election Day is recommended, but if you’ve already decided on your candidates, earlier is desirable. With the slowdowns at the USPS, it could take much longer than usual for your ballot to reach the local elections office. USPS launched a new election mail website with more information. Find it HERE.
  • Many local elections offices allow you to check to see if your ballot was received and recorded before Election Day. This allows you to fix any possible problems with a mismatched signature, mistake in following instructions, or mail ballot that’s gone missing.
You go out to dinner and ask for a dessert menu, but you decide not to order a treat. Did that dessert go missing? NBCLX’s Chase Cain uncovers the myth about missing ballots. Spoiler alert: it’s not a real issue. Here’s why the evidence for this myth is missing in action.


  • It may not be too late!
    • The National Association of Secretaries of State will help you confirm your voter registration status. Even if you’ve voted in the past, it’s a good idea to confirm you’re still registered.
    • If you’re unsure if you’re eligible to vote, the main requirements are that you’re 18 years old by November 3rd and a U.S. citizen. You can find detailed information HERE.  
  • Register to vote!
    • If it’s your first time voting, welcome to the party! CLICK HERE to find your state’s voter registration page. 
    • In most states you can easily register online. However, the states listed below aren’t currently offering online registration, so you may have to print and mail an application. Plan accordingly!
      • Arkansas, District of Columbia, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Texas, & Wyoming


NBCLX will continue to provide helpful information and important context as we approach the November election. Here are a few stories to help you better understand the voting process, separate fact from fiction, and the challenges voters face in 2020: