Election Day is November 3, 2020.
The election date is set by federal law and has not changed since 1845. Americans select a president and vice president every four years. This regular election schedule has persisted through periods of great uncertainty and upheaval, including the Great Depression, and two World Wars. Historically, unprecedented times have not stopped Americans from voting.
The United States does not have a national election body responsible for conducting elections. Instead, state and local officials are responsible for voting and must conduct elections in accordance with all federal and state laws. Primary elections are set by states and localities, which is the reason they are more easily postponed when problems arise, such as the situations this spring with states moving their primaries as the pandemic crashed ashore. Even with the inability to move the federal election date in November, election administrators are working diligently to keep voting safe, whether in-person or by-mail.
While Election Day is November 3 this year, this date really represents the last day you can cast a vote. You may have options in your state to vote by mail or to vote during a period of early voting before Election Day.
There are currently 39 states and the District of Columbia that offer an option for early voting. Time periods vary from state to state, with an average time length of 22 days before Election Day and ending a few days prior to the election. Some states even offer early voting options the weekend before Election Day. States have not yet made decisions about what early voting options there will be in November, but we expect voters to have a chance to participate this way.
Early voting has its benefits, especially now. If you choose to vote during the early voting period, it can provide a convenient way for you to minimize your exposure to COVID-19 and help reduce the chance of long lines on election day. It also provides in-person polling options for voters in the at-risk category, or voters with accessibility needs, without having to vote on election day.
Disinformation campaigns about voting are not new, but these efforts have ramped up during this election season due to COVID-19. Despite the false statements from some elected officials and pundits, the date for the general election in November will not change. No matter your race, gender, or party affiliation, Election Day is on November 3.