Donald Trump, Joe Biden Face-Off In US Presidential Elections 2020: Early Voting, Mail-in Voting, Counting Day, Electoral College & Other FAQs Answered

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a debate around mail-in voting practices with Donald Trump alluding that this process is susceptible to fraud. However, the practice is unchallenged and millions have already chosen to cast their vote across the U.S. Here is how you could vote early or choose to send in your vote by post so that it is counted for the US 2020 elections.

September 30, 2020


9 min


The 59th Presidential elections of the United States are being held in the backdrop of the Coronavirus pandemic which has claimed over one million lives globally of which over two lakh are in the U.S. alone. Incumbent US President Donald Trump’s management of the crisis is in sharp focus as he is being challenged by Democratic Party nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden. Despite the pandemic, the elections in the U.S. are on track and scheduled to be held on November 3.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a debate around mail-in voting practices with Donald Trump alluding that this process is susceptible to fraud. However, the practice is unchallenged and millions have already chosen to cast their vote across the U.S. Here is how you could vote early or choose to send in your vote by post so that it is counted for the US 2020 elections. 

Early Voting In Person

The practice of early voting allows an eligible or registered voter in the U.S. to cast their vote well before the November 3 election day. States across the U.S. are responsible for conducting elections in their territories and each state has announced its schedule for the 2020 elections. States Like Michigan have allowed voters to cast their ballot since last week while some have eliminated early voting. Here is a list of states and early voting dates.

Sept. 9: Alabama
Sept. 18: Minnesota, South Dakota, Virginia and Wyoming
Sept. 21: Vermont
Sept. 22: Missouri
Sept. 24: Illinois and Michigan
Sept. 28: Pennsylvania
Oct. 2: Connecticut
Oct. 5: California, Iowa, Maine, Montana, Nebraska and South Carolina
Oct. 6: Indiana and Ohio
Oct. 7: Arizona
Oct. 10: New Hampshire
Oct. 12: Georgia
Oct. 13: Kentucky and Texas
Oct. 14: Kansas, Rhode Island and Tennessee
Oct. 15: North Carolina
Oct. 16: Washington
Oct. 17: Massachusetts, Nevada and New Mexico
Oct. 19: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado , Idaho and North Dakota
Oct. 20: Hawaii, Louisiana, Utah and Wisconsin
Oct. 21: West Virginia
Oct. 24: Florida, Mississippi and New York
Oct. 26: Maryland
Oct. 27: District of Columbia
Oct. 29: Oklahoma

The state of Pennsylvania did not start early voting as expected on September 14. It has however allowed a type of early voting at local elections offices and these are also opening satellite offices as early voting sites. New Jersey which traditionally offered early voting has not done so this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The state will be mailing ballots to all registered voters and making drop boxes available.

Absentee Voting Or Mail-in Voting

In order to prevent crowding and consequently risk the further spread of coronavirus, many states have made preparations for allowing to cast your vote by sending it by post. Sending your vote by mail is also referred to as Absentee voting. Every state in the U.S. has a provision for absentee voting, rules and dates are different for each of them.

Absentee Voting For Those Who Reside In The U.S.

Voters who choose absentee voting or voting by mail have two deadlines to keep in mind – the last day to request a ballot paper and the last day to post it. States have different dates for both.

Deadline to request a ballot
Oct. 9: Kentucky
Oct. 13: Rhode Island
Oct. 20: Maryland and New Mexico
Oct. 21: Missouri
Oct. 22: Indiana
Oct. 23: Arizona, Idaho, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia
Oct. 24: Alaska, Florida and Iowa
Oct. 27: Arkansas, Kansas, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee
Oct. 28: Massachusetts and West Virginia
Oct. 29: Alabama, Illinois, Maine and Wisconsin
Oct. 30: Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan and South Carolina
Oct. 31: Ohio
Nov. 2: Connecticut, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana , New Hampshire, South Dakota and Wyoming

When ballots must be posted

Nov. 2: Alabama, Iowa, North Dakota, Ohio and Utah
Nov. 3: Alaska, California, District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin

Due to the pandemic, many voters are choosing to go the mail-in voting route and hence the United States postal service which is responsible for delivering ballots to elections offices has asked that ballots be posted well in advance so that they can be received by the counting deadline.

States have also brought in a deadline for when ballots must be received so that they are eligible to be counted in the elections.

Nov. 2: Louisiana and Vermont
Nov. 3: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming
Nov. 4: Texas
Nov. 6: Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia
Nov. 9: Iowa, North Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin
Nov. 10: Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey , New York and Utah
Nov. 13: Alaska, District of Columbia, Maryland and Ohio
Nov. 17: California
Nov. 18: Illinois
Nov. 23: Washington

Election Day Voting

Despite the provision for early voting as well as absentee ballot, almost every state in the U.S. is still holding in-person voting on Election day – November 3, 2020. Most polling offices will open by 7am and will be open for about 10 hours. However, due to staff shortages, polling station numbers have been reduced which will lead to longer wait times. In every US state, voters are allowed to vote and cast their ballot as long as they are in line by the time the polls close.

Election Day or Counting Day

On most election night after polls close, the election is ‘called’ within hours. Despite the assumptions that the U.S. has a direct electing system, the candidate with the most number of votes does not automatically win the election. For example, in 2016 Hillary Clinton defeated Trump by 2.8 million votes, but she did not get to be president because she could only manage 232 electoral college votes as compared to Trump’s 306.

What this means is that a candidate needs to have enough votes in most states to get the electoral college votes of that state to cross the number of 270.

The election day of 2020 might not be the main event as an expected widespread use of mail-in voting will lead to delays in counting all the ballots and hence the possible winner could not be known for days like George W Bush versus Al Gore in 2000.

Electoral College System

In the U.S. Electoral System, the President and the Vice President is chosen through a system called electoral college. There are 538 electors who vote for the President and Vice Presidential candidates depending on the popular vote in the state. In the electoral college system, the candidate with the highest number of votes in a state claims all of the state’s electoral votes.

A candidate needs to amass 270 electoral votes to be declared winner. Hence, voters in a state when they cast their ballot are voting to decide who their electors should go to – the electors then vote for the president on behalf of the people in their state. This system was reportedly adopted so that there could be a filter between the voters and those finally choosing the candidate to lead the country.


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