Caregiving can complicate a number of basic activities that we often take for granted, such as voting in presidential elections. Even though this is only necessary every four years, trying to get an aging loved one to a polling place is difficult, if not impossible, for many caregivers. Fortunately, there are several different voting options available to ensure that people who can't make it to their assigned voting location are still able to participate in the election.
Most states assign all of their registered voters to a local polling place where they are expected to go and vote on Election Day.
The exceptions to this rule are Colorado, Oregon and Washington. These three states operate an all-mail election system and do not make use of physical polling sites on Election Day. Eligible voters are automatically sent a ballot in the mail, which they do not have to request or apply for.
All states allow for some form of absentee voting. Absentee ballots exist as a way for people who can't get to their local polling place to vote. This can be a perfect option for seniors and caregivers who can't easily leave their homes. Each state has its own unique set of rules regarding the requirements and qualifications for absentee voting.
Twenty states require an absentee applicant to give a valid excuse (travel, illness, disability, etc.) for why they won't be able to get to their local polling place on Election Day. Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia allow people to apply for an absentee ballot without stating a particular reason. Some states even offer permanent absentee status. Once a voter signs up, the state will automatically mail out an absentee ballot for all future elections.
If, for some reason, you or your loved one cannot vote on Election Day, voters in 37 states and the District of Columbia are allowed to cast an early, in-person vote at a designated voting site, such as an election official's office. But caregivers need to plan ahead to make sure they meet the registration and voting deadlines in their area. The early voting period in most states generally starts around a month prior to Election Day and ends a few days before.
To learn which voting options are available in your state, contact your state’s department of elections.