It may not be a presidential or congressional election year, but there are still plenty of ballot races on Tuesday.
These elections will determine the governors of Virginia and New Jersey; the mayors and other leaders of New York, Atlanta, Minneapolis and more; and countless members of school boards and municipal councils. They will also decide the fate of electoral measures on electoral rules, local taxes and other matters.
Here is a guide on where and how to vote.
Is there an election where I live?
If you live in Colorado, Maine, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, or Washington state, you have statewide elections on Tuesday. Depending on your location, there may also be local races or referendums on your ballot. You can find more information by clicking on your state above, or by using Vote411.
If you live in another state, Vote411 can tell you if your municipality or county is holding an election. You can also visit your state’s election website or contact your local election office.
How do I know what I am voting on?
You can find a sample ballot online showing all of the candidates and questions that will appear on your actual ballot, so you can do your research ahead of time and make up your mind. Depending on where you live, your state’s election website may have sample ballots, or you may need to go to your county’s website instead. You can also enter your address on Vote411 to find a complete list of races.
Where to vote?
If you want to vote in person, each state has an online portal where you can view your location and voting times (and see if you have early voting options). You should be able to find a link to the portal on your state’s election website.
This is also where you can confirm that you’ve registered to vote – and if not, find out if and how you still have time to register. If you have any difficulties or need more information, you can contact your local election office.
Some states require voters to present identification. You can find out here if your state has an identification requirement, and if so, what forms of identification are eligible.
What if I’m turned away?
If election officials can’t find your entry, or if your state requires ID and you don’t have it, election officials in most states are required to offer you a provisional ballot. (The exceptions are Idaho, Minnesota, and New Hampshire.) If they don’t, ask.
After the election, officials will confirm your identity and eligibility before counting your provisional ballot. In many cases, the problem is a simple clerical error that they can identify and correct themselves. But in other cases, you may need to take other steps to make sure your vote is counted, such as going to an election office and showing your ID within a certain number of days. Before you leave your polling station, be sure to ask what you need to do.
2021 elections: the races we follow
Several off-year contests could shape the political landscape ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. Here are some key races.
Can I vote by mail?
In many states, yes – but within days of an election it may not be possible to request, receive and return a mail ballot in time to be counted. So you should check your state’s deadlines (available on their election website or Vote411) and confirm that the timeline is realistic, keeping in mind the possibility of delays from the US Postal Service.
Depending on your state, you can also vote in person before polling day, or pick up and return a mail-in ballot at an election station. You can use the same websites as above to find out if these options are right for you.
How to report a deletion of voters?
There are official channels to report voter suppression. You can contact the election office in your state or territory, or you can file a report with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.
The Department of Justice also operates a voting rights hotline at 1-800-253-3931. The American Civil Liberties Union operates a non-partisan hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
Bullying of voters is a federal crime. Examples include aggressively questioning voters about their citizenship, criminal record or other qualifications to vote; spreading false information about voters’ demands; physical intimidation; and harassment of any kind.
When will we know the results?
Votes cast in person on polling day are expected to be counted that night, but the timeframe for counting mail-in ballots will vary by state. Some states allow officials to begin processing mail ballots before election day, and they may be able to report nearly complete totals on election night. But states that force authorities to wait until November 2 will need more time.
The time it will take to declare a winner depends on the narrowness of the race. If it’s a blowout, we can probably tell on election night. If the race is near, be prepared to wait.
And remember, just like last year, given that Democrats are likely to vote by mail disproportionately and Republicans are likely to vote in person, early results could be misleading.