Marie Claire's Guide to the 2020 Election

Everything you need to know to make an informed decision at the polls.

The 2020 election cycle has been anything but normal. There's been misinformation about the security of voting by mail, a canceled presidential debate, and Supreme Court confirmation hearings weeks before Election Day, all while Americans attempt to process the 215,000 U.S. lives lost due to COVID-19. But it's also included some promising developments: the nomination of vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris, the first Black and South Asian woman on a major party ticket, social justice and voter registration initiatives spearheaded by the NBA and WNBA, and the largest poll worker recruitment campaign our country has seen.

We understand how overwhelming it all can be. And we understand the inherent desire to escape the endless news cycle. But your voice matters now more than ever, and change begins with your vote. So, to help you make an informed decision at the polls, Marie Claire compiled our resources into an official guide to the 2020 election, below. Whether you're voting by mail—if so, request your absentee ballot today!—or in person early or on November 3, 2020, know that you deserve to have a say in our democracy.

After all, as we mentioned in our "Why I'm Voting" piece, a true democracy only exists when we all vote. Get counted with us.

Democracy 101: How to Vote

Voter registration deadlines in states including Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Hawaii, and Indiana have already passed, but there's still time to register in other states across the country. Once you've registered, make a voting plan, starting with deciding whether you're going to vote by mail or in person. Each state has unique vote-by-mail rules, but most will allow you to cite COVID-19 as a reason not to vote in person if you don't feel comfortable doing so. (It's recommended you request an absentee/mail-in ballot at least two weeks before your state's deadline.) If you prefer not to send your ballot back in the mail due to the USPS delays, you may be eligible to drop it off in person at your local Board of Elections or in a secure ballot drop box. Before you start ticking boxes, you can preview a sample ballot on Ballotpedia.

History-Making Candidates to Pay Attention to Up and Down the Ballot

Who we elect up and down the ballot matters; the more diverse the candidate list, the more opportunity for our government to reflect the people it governs.

This year, Americans were forced to have tough conversations on racism and police brutality after the murders of George FloydBreonna TaylorAhmaud ArberyTony McDade, and countless other Black people. If we want to see longterm change in our communities, we must elect Black leaders starting at the local level. You can find a list of political hopefuls in our "Black Candidates Running for Office in 2020" guide.

Once you've familiarized yourself with these candidates, get inspired by activist Sarah McBride's historic state senate race, where she's poised to become the first openly-transgender state senator in America. Finally, learn more about vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris's stance on important issues, including policing, immigration, and the economy. (Reminder: She's the first Black woman and first South Asian person to appear on a major party ticket!)

The Issues at Stake in the 2020 Election

From gun control to police reform, learn about the issues at stake in the 2020 election. The Trump/Pence and Biden/Harris tickets have put forth very different policies and priorities, and the impacts on the American people will vary greatly depending on which administration wins. If you have an issue that's dear to your heart, be sure you know where your candidate stands. Read about additional issues at stake here.

How to Make an Impact in the 2020 Election

Following a nationwide poll worker shortage due to COVID-19, Power the Polls recruited more than 500,000 poll workers—the largest poll worker recruitment campaign our country has seen. Find out how to become a poll worker—one of the many ways you can help make an impact in the 2020 election—here. Additionally, consider getting involved in local politics if you aren't already. We built a step-by-step guide on how to get started here.

From the swing states that will determine who wins the 2020 election to the Senators willing to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, we've outlined some trending topics to help you stay informed this election season. Come for the interview with Stacey Abrams on how to fight voter suppression, stay for the piece on the white women who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 but are changing their minds in 2020. And, if you want more Marie Claire election coverage, you can find it all right here.


Rachel Epstein

Rachel Epstein is a writer, editor, and content strategist based in New York City. Most recently, she was the Managing Editor at Coveteur, where she oversaw the site’s day-to-day editorial operations. Previously, she was an editor at Marie Claire, where she wrote and edited culture, politics, and lifestyle stories ranging from op-eds to profiles to ambitious packages. She also launched and managed the site’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game or finding a new coffee shop.