At the American Composers Forum, we are doing our part as advocates to provide you with the information you need to be informed participants in our democratic process. The election has been described as many as an “election of a lifetime” and its outcome will impact generations to come. Our cultural spaces are our community spaces. Our creative community is our social fabric. We ALL have a role to play in our democracy. Let’s get to work!

Today, we are 1 days out from the 2020 Election in the U.S., and while there is so much happening in the world, we can’t lose sight of the importance of this election for our democracy and for the performing arts—in our neighborhoods, in the U.S., and around the globe.

We hope you will take time to look at the TAKE ACTION section of this page. Together, we have an opportunity to maximize voter engagement by activating our spaces, organizations and ourselves across the country in service to every eligible citizen’s right to vote.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020

As Part of our UNEVEN MEASURES project, I CARE IF YOU LISTEN asked Natalie CalmaJoAnn FallettaLibby LarsenAlysia LeeNebal MaysaudAngélica NegrónPaola PrestiniAeryn SantillanAlex Temple, and Wang Jie to respond to the prompt:


Part II of this essay will be published on Election Day.

More UNEVEN MEASURES content can be found here.

We encourage you to engage in the process in these 3 ways:

We are stronger together.

The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy, and yet laws protecting this right have not always been enforced equitably, even in 2020, leaving some outside of the process. It is important that we continue to work to expand voter protection, increase participation, and ensure the integrity of our democracy. If you are eligible to vote, below are resources to help you to register in your state.

* Voter Registration Deadlines

Below are the voter registration deadlines for voting in the federal election for each of the 50 states, Washington, DC and the U.S. territories. Click on the state to find out how to register and/or register with your secretary of state. State election websites also provide polling place locators and voter ID requirements (i.e. current driver’s license or state-issued ID).

U.S. Territories

* Most of the Information is compiled from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), an independent, bipartisan commission established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002, that serves to be a national clearinghouse of information on election administration.

How will you cast your vote?

Vote planning is a technique to ensure voters turnout to the polls. The goal of a vote plan is to encourage an individual to envision themselves voting and identify any potential barriers they might have or encounter. You can make a vote plan for yourself or with someone when phone banking, canvassing, or in normal conversation.

When creating your Voting Plan, ask yourself these questions:

  • What time will you be voting?
  • Where are you voting?
  • Do you have a mail-in ballot or are you going to the polls?
  • How are you getting there?
  • Do you need a ride?
  • Who else can you bring with you?
  • Do you need to take off work or secure childcare?
  • In states with voter I.D. laws: Do you have all the necessary documents to vote?

PLAN YOUR VOTE is a 2020 visual arts initiative from that harnesses the power of art to promote and encourage citizens to exercise their right to vote:

Vote by Mail

Due to the current pandemic, all states have established and implemented processes for their residents to request and mail in their voting ballots for the November 2020 elections either through absentee voting (AV) or by vote by mail (VBM).  What’s the difference?  Please note the deadlines to submit AV or VBM applications in order to receive a mail-in ballot by mail below. Click on the link for your state to get specific instructions and guidance. Please note that the deadline to apply via mail for AV or VBM ballots may be different than the deadline to apply via in-person and/or online for your state. Moreover, ACF encourages its voters to request and mail in their ballots as soon as possible to ensure they are received by the local election office in a timely manner and by November 3, if not earlier.

  • Alabama – AV – 5th calendar day prior to election day
  • Alaska – AV – 10 days prior to election day
  • Arizona – VBM – 10 days prior to election day
  • Arkansas – AV – 7 days prior to election day
  • California – VBM – Ballots will automatically be sent to all registered voters
  • Colorado – VBM – Ballots will automatically be sent to all registered voters; any address changes – 8 days prior to election day
  • Connecticut – AV – 7 days prior to election day
  • District of Columbia – VBM – Ballots will automatically be sent to all registered voters
  • Delaware – VBM – 4 days prior to election day
  • Florida – VBM – 10 days prior to election day
  • Georgia – AB – 4 days prior to election day
  • Hawaii – VBM – Ballots will automatically be sent to all registered voters
  • Idaho – AV – 11 days prior to election day
  • Illinois – VBM – October 6, 2020
  • Indiana – AV – October 22, 2020
  • Iowa – AV – 10 days prior to election day
  • Kansas – VBM – October 27, 2020
  • Kentucky – AV – October 9, 2020
  • Louisiana – AV – 4 days prior to election day
  • Maine – AV – October 29, 2020
  • Maryland – VBM October 20, 2020
  • Massachusetts – VBM – October 20, 2020
  • Michigan – AV – Friday before election day
  • Minnesota – VBM – before election day
  • Mississippi – AV – before election day
  • Missouri – VBM – 2nd Wed. prior to election day
  • Montana – AV – day before election day
  • Nebraska – AV – October 23, 2020
  • Nevada – AV – 14TH calendar day prior to election day
  • New Hampshire – AV – 7 days prior to election
  • New Jersey – VBM –  7 days prior to the election day
  • New Mexico – AV – October 20, 2020
  • New York – AV – 7 days prior to election day
  • North Carolina – AV – October 27, 2020
  • North Dakota –AV – 7 days prior to election day
  • Ohio – AV – 3 days prior to election day
  • Oklahoma – AV – 6 days prior to election day
  • Oregon – VBM – Ballots will automatically be sent to all registered voters; address change at least 5 days before Election Day
  • Pennsylvania – VBM – October 27, 2020
  • Rhode Island – VBM – October 13, 2020
  • South Carolina – AV – 4th day prior to election day
  • South Dakota – AV – Will automatically send AV applications to all registered voters 
  • Tennessee – AV – October 27, 2020
  • Texas – VBM – 11th day prior to election day
  • Utah – VBM – Ballots will automatically be sent to all registered voters 
  • Vermont – AV – 1 day prior to election day
  • Virginia – AV – 11th day prior to election day
  • Washington – Ballots will automatically be sent to all registered voters
  • West Virginia – AV – 6th day prior to election day
  • Wisconsin – AV – October 29, 2020
  • Wyoming – Before election day

U.S. Territories

Vote in Person

This includes voting on election day or on an early voting day at your local polling station. Early voting rules vary vastly from state to state. Below are some helpful links for voting in person:

Learn about your ballot

Take Action

Be an Election Worker on Election Day

As coronavirus continues to impact Americans across the country, we are also seeing a staggering decrease in poll workers — which could mean closed polling places and long delays for elections in 2020. You can help make sure we have a safe, fair, efficient election for all voters, and potentially get paid to do it.  Visit Power the Polls to learn more.

Engaging Candidates on the Issues

Besides voting and voting early, there will be numerous opportunities this fall to engage in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, candidate forums, debates, social media chats, and town halls. Nonprofit VOTE has great information about effectively engaging political candidates. Below are a listing of major issues impacting the arts sector.

COVID19 Relief

Candidates from all political leanings need to know how the pandemic has impacted your organization, individual artists, and the arts sector. It is important that they know how you, your organization, and the arts sector can be supported during the pandemic and beyond to thrive as the arts sector is a unique and major contributor to the state and local economy. Most state arts councils have economic data that you can share with political candidates about the arts sector’s economic contributions beyond the cultural and creative contributions.

Key Policy Issues

Additional Policy Issues

Other Important Resources

Below are additional resources to inform voters during the November 2020 elections at all levels. Please note that American Composers Forum is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse or oppose any political candidates or political parties. 

Arts-Related Resources

  • ArtsVote – Americans for the Arts Action Fund
  • Congressional Arts Handbook – Americans for the Arts
  • Headcount – Stages voter registration drives at concerts and runs programs that translate the power of music and culture into real action.

General Voter Engagement Resources and Information

  • Voto Latino – A grassroots political organization focused on educating and empowering a new generation of Latinx voters, as well as creating a more robust and inclusive democracy.
  • Voting and Civic Engagement – National Urban League
  • RocktheVote – A nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to building the political power of young people.
  • I AM A VOTER – A nonpartisan movement that aims to create a cultural shift around voting and civic engagement by unifying around a central truth: our democracy works best when we all participate.
  • Ride to the Polls – Initiative by Lyft, the ride-sharing company
  • Get to the Polls – Initiative by Uber, the ride-sharing company
  • Polling Place Locator – Developed by
  • Voting, Accessibility, and the Law – Developed by the National Federation of the Blind
  • Protecting the Rights of Voters with Disabilities – Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice
  • – The largest 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan voting registration, and get out the vote (GOTV) technology platform in America. 
  • – Provides resources to help nonprofit organizations integrate voter engagement into their ongoing activities and services.
  • U.S. 2020 Voting Information Center – Facebook
  • Vote411 – developed by the League of Women Voters Action Fund that provides voting resources and information for voters across the country. State and local affiliates host various candidate forums during the election season.
  • Nonprofits and Elections – National Council of Nonprofits
  • When We All Vote – A non-profit, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to increase participation in every election and close race and age voting gaps by changing the culture around voting, harnessing grassroots energy, and through strategic partnerships to reach every American.
  • #VoteTogether – A nonpartisan initiative that is transforming the culture around voter participation from an isolated, unfamiliar activity to a celebratory event.
  • ElectionDay – An initiative by business leaders working to strengthen American democracy.
  • Can I Vote – An initiative developed by the National Association of Secretaries of State.
  • U.S. Election Assistance Commission
  • TurboVote