Once you vote in the 2020 presidential election, how do you check to make sure your ballot has been counted? This answer varies depending on where you live and how you voted.
There is no standardized national system for tracking whether a ballot was counted. The ballot tracking landscape is a “mess, because it’s 50 different systems, and within each of those 50 systems, there [are] county registrars, so everybody has slightly different methods,” said Jessica Levinson, a professor and expert on election laws at Loyola Law School.
When you vote in person, you can see your vote be submitted and it’s “a fair bet” that your ballot will count, Levinson said.
Paul Mitchell, vice president of the California voting data firm Political Data Inc., noted that it’s incredibly rare for an in-person vote to be discarded in his state: “If you vote in person, the only thing that could happen is a meteor could strike your polling place five minutes after you leave, and then your vote wouldn’t get counted.”
As such, no state offers ballot tracking for in-person voting.
But when you mail in your vote, you don’t see it being processed and there’s more opportunity for mistakes to be made, so most states offer some form of confirmation for those ballots.
“People are worried about vote-by-mail because they’re not the ones physically putting it in somebody’s hands or putting it in the box, and I think that’s why the tracking is so much more robust,” Levinson said.
By and large, mail-in votes end up counting. Nearly 92% of returned mail-in ballots were counted in the 2018 general election, according to a survey by the federal Election Assistance Commission. Among the most common reasons ballots were rejected were that the voter was not actually registered to vote; the ballot was missing an important document, such as an affidavit; the ballot was not received in time; the signature on the ballot did not match the signature on file; or the ballot lacked a voter’s signature.
Sometimes people can only vote a provisional ballot at their polling site, and these ballots often need follow-up from either the voter or election officials. If this happens to you, ask your local election official to explain how you can check to see if your provisional vote was counted or rejected. A written explanation is your legal right under the Help America Vote Act.
If you want to double-check the status of your vote, here are your options by state and the District of Columbia:
Track your absentee ballot status at myvoterinformation.alaska.gov.
The Grand Canyon State offers both absentee and provisional ballot tracking at my.arizona.vote, and some counties go a step further. In Maricopa County, for example, you can sign up for text updates on your mail-in ballot.
View ballot status by entering your name and date of birth at the Arkansas elections website.
You can look up your mail-in ballot status and also sign up to get text or email notifications as information is updated.
Colorado offers status updates and alerts for mail-in ballots.
The state offers look-up service for both absentee and provisional ballots.
District of Columbia
Both absentee and provisional ballots can be tracked at the state’s “My Voter Page.”
Residents can head to ballotstatus.hawaii.gov to see if their mail-in vote was received.
Enter your info in Idaho’s voter record tool to check your mail-in ballot status.
Although some counties use mail-in ballot tracking software (Cook County has portals for both suburban residents and those in the city of Chicago), Illinois offers statewide tracking only for provisional ballots. Check your local election authority for absentee ballot tracking information.
Check if your ballot was received and counted with Indiana’s “My Voter Portal.”
Kansas offers tracking for mail-in ballots.
Nervous about your absentee ballot? Check its status with a statewide tool.
The state’s “Geaux Vote” portal offers tracking information for mail-in ballots.
The Pine Tree State has a statewide tool for tracking absentee ballots.
You can check the status of your mail-in or provisional ballot. Provisional ballot status will be made available 10 days after the election.
Mississippi does not use statewide ballot tracking software. If you have doubts about your vote counting, contact your county election official.
Track your mail-in ballot status at app.mt.gov/voterinfo.
Nebraska offers mail-in ballot status in its voter information tool.
The state’s Ballottrax site provides tracking information and the opportunity to sign up for text or email alerts when your mail-in ballot is received and counted. Provisional ballot status will be made available eight days after Election Day and remain available for 30 days. Call (877) 766-8683 to find out your provisional ballot status, according to Nevada’s explainer.
You can find out when your ballot was received from the clerk’s office.
For the presidential election, in-person votes will be cast by provisional ballot. “All voters can call 1-877-NJVOTER after the election to find out whether their vote by mail or provisional ballot was counted or the reason it was rejected,” the state’s voter information portal explains.
Absentee ballot tracking is available.
Mail-in ballots can be tracked at a statewide portal.
Ohio offers statewide tracking for mail-in ballots.
Check the status of absentee ballots at ok.gov/elections/OVP.html.
Oregon mails a ballot to every registered voter. They can be tracked at the state’s “My Vote Now” site.
Pennsylvania will be the first and only state to disqualify mail-in ballots that aren’t enclosed in a second secrecy envelope ― and the state initially offered no chance for voters to fix that rejection. Now, voters who returned one of these so-called “naked ballots” will be able to vote a provisional ballot on Election Day, the secretary of state’s office told HuffPost. Pennsylvania offers tracking for mail-in ballots, but there are some quirks you should know about as the system is old and relies on confusing language.
Check the status of your mail-in ballot at vote.sos.ri.gov.
Mail-in ballots can be tracked in Tennessee.
Ballot tracking is only available for voters who live overseas or serve in the military.
The state says people whose votes are rejected will be contacted with instructions on how to fix the problem, but voters can also check the status of both mail-in and provisional ballots at vote.utah.gov.
Check the status of your mail-in ballot at mvp.vermont.gov.
Head to elections.virginia.gov to track a mail-in vote.
Enter your name and birthdate at the state’s voter information portal and you can see if your ballot reached its destination.
“Contact your county clerk for information,” says the website of the Wyoming Secretary of State. The state does publish a single list tracking the ballot status of military and overseas voters, listed by voter ID number.
Janie Campbell contributed reporting.
Language in the section on Pennsylvania has been updated to explain what a voter who omitted the second secrecy envelope on their mailed-in ballot can do to fix that problem.