You can now track your mail-in ballot like an Amazon package

The tech could give voters peace of mind — and help ensure their mail-in ballots count.

Most election years, the majority of Americans who cast their vote for president do so at a local polling station. But 2020 isn’t like most election years — come November 3, the threat of the coronavirus will still be looming large over the nation.

Packed polling stations have the potential to be hotspots for infections, so a record number of voters are expected to cast their votes by mail this year.

Some people, including President Donald Trump, are predicting that the USPS won’t be able to handle the volume surge or will lose or delay ballots en route, threatening the integrity of the election.

In an attempt to increase voters’ dropping confidence in mail-in voting, at least 46 states now offer free ballot tracking — letting voters follow their ballot’s journey from the mailbox to the election office.

Ballot Tracking Tech

The ballot tracking tech in the 2020 election varies from district to district.

Some places have extremely straightforward systems in place: voters visit a website, enter some personal information (e.g., their name and birthdate), and then see if their ballot has reached the election office or is still en route.

Others utilize more robust software programs, such as BallotTrax and Ballot Scout. Voters can use these ballot tracking tools to sign up for text, phone call, or email notifications that alert them to every step in their ballot’s life — from printing to acceptance for counting.

“It’s sort of similar to the way you would track an Amazon package, where you can see where the package currently is in a mail stream,” Jessenia Eliza, director of government initiatives at Democracy Works, the nonprofit behind Ballot Scout, told Fast Company.

Beyond Tracking Mail-In Ballots

The potential benefits of ballot tracking extend beyond simply letting voters know their ballot’s status, too.

In some places, the tools can also alert voters to problems with their mail-in ballot — a missing signature, for example — and give them instructions on how to fix it. This could ensure that every mail-in ballot submitted actually ends up counting in an election.

It’s similar to the way you would track an Amazon package.

Jessenia Eliza

The tech can also free election officials from the burden of answering voters’ questions about the status of their mail-in ballot. In Denver, for example, officials used to field such inquiries from about 25% of voters — after the implementation of a ballot tracking system, that dropped to about 5%.

PC Mag has compiled links to the ballot tracking sites set up for the 2020 election, so if you’re interested in tracking your own mail-in ballot, just click on the link below the name of your state.

We’d love to hear from you! If you have a comment about this article or if you have a tip for a future Freethink story, please email us at [email protected].

Why Germany is a blank spot on Google’s Street View
Germany and Austria are a conspicuous gap in the mess of Google Maps’ Street View locations that covers the rest of Europe.
North Korean citizens are jailbreaking smartphones to bypass censorship 
In the face of severe punishments, North Korean hackers are finding clever ways to access forbidden content.
WeChat users try to keep Shanghai lockdown protest video ahead of censors 
WeChat users have turned to all manner of tricks in a cat-and-mouse game with CCP censors to keep a video about the Shanghai lockdown online.
Behind the crypto hype is an ideology of social change
Unlike technology enthusiasts or crypto marketers, “true bitcoiners” didn’t talk about technology, but trust and corruption.
The future of classified intelligence may be sharing it
Faced with an enemy adept at information warfare, the US and allies are turning to a new, unusual way to use classified intelligence.
Up Next
No related content in the preview
Subscribe to Freethink for more great stories