Here’s What to Know About Voting by Mail, State by State

Amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the way Americans choose to cast their votes for the 2020 presidential election might look a little different this year, as a record number of people opt to rely on absentee ballots or mail-in ballots. According to The Washington Post, over 180 million voters will be eligible to vote by mail this year.

With states continuing to encourage social distancing to slow the spread of the virus, local elections have shown states struggling with longer waiting times and disorganization impacting voter turnout, even with higher reported levels of voter engagement. For example, Wisconsin and Georgia both had issues with multi-hour waits, as well as people reportedly requesting absentee ballots and never receiving them. There have also been concerns about workers contracting coronavirus due to difficulties enforcing social distancing measures and proper disinfection.

 

While mail-in voting eradicates some of these concerns, it’s brought a renewed spotlight to the financially-strained U.S. Postal Service, which is already struggling with delays and overwhelming demand due to the pandemic.

In particular, officials have expressed concerns due to recent cuts in funding for the USPS, subsequent delays in mail and package delivery, and the ramifications that these changes could have for the integrity of the upcoming election. After 20 Democratic states announced they were planning to file federal lawsuits, new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced on Tuesday, Aug. 18 that the USPS will pause recent reforms like cuts in post office hours, the number of mail collection boxes, and overtime pay for employees until after the election.

While DeJoy said he’d pause many of the operational changes on Aug. 19, lawmakers are still going to vote to reverse them on Saturday, and he is still scheduled to appear before them on Friday and Monday. 

President Trump has made no secret of his distrust of mail-in voting. He has stated multiple times that mail-in voting is correlated to voter fraud, despite experts saying there is no evidence to support this claim, and his latest interviews make it unclear whether he supports providing extra emergency funding to the USPS to cope with an influx of mail-in ballots come November.

As politicians attempt to hammer out the details of USPS policy in Washington, D.C., many states have been independently making changes to make it easier for people to vote without having to physically head to the polls.

 

At this time, all states offer mail-in voting for at least a portion of their population, and in response to the pandemic, a number of states have changed their absentee ballot policies to better accommodate voters. Voters can currently request mail-in or absentee ballot applications for November in every state at Vote.org.

To ensure their ballots are counted, voters should mark their calendars to vote quite a bit earlier than the first Tuesday after the first Monday in Novembers, as is tradition. In a letter to election officials dated May 29, the USPS advised that voters be made aware that they should request ballots as early as possible. In a statement sent to multiple news outlets, it recommended requesting a ballot at least 15 days before Nov. 3 to make sure your vote is counted.

“… We recommend that customers who opt to vote through the U.S. Mail must understand their local jurisdiction’s requirements for timely submission of absentee ballots, including postmarking requirements,” USPS said in the statement. “Voters must use First-Class Mail or an expedited level of service to return their completed ballots.”

Although all states currently allow some form of mail-in voting, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, New Jersey, Nevada, and Washington will automatically send registered voters a mail-in ballot to fill out and send in. As of the time of publication, California, Washington D.C., and Vermont will also be automatically sending out ballots to all registered voters this year. Meanwhile, as of Aug. 14, Delaware, Connecticut, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, and Massachusetts are automatically sending out applications for absentee ballots to all registered voters. For the other states, voters must fill out an application to request an absentee ballot instead of voting in person.

 

This year, a number of states will offer changes to their “no-excuse” absentee ballot policy due to the pandemic.

While a number of states typically require voters to have an excuse to send in an absentee ballot instead of voting in person, some have changed their laws to make a fear of contracting the coronavirus a valid reason to request an absentee ballot in the primaries. Residents in Indiana, New York, Tennessee, South Carolina, Texas, Mississippi (unless you’re under a “physician-imposed quarantine” or caring for someone who is), and Louisiana won’t be able to use this excuse as a reason to vote by mail.

You can see what your state’s policy is on absentee ballots on the Brookings.edu state-by-state scorecard, as well as if you’ll need your signature, witness signatures, or a notarization before sending in your vote. You can also check to see if your state offers early in-person voting. For the most updated information, reach out to the Secretary of State’s office or Board of Elections in your state, or your county clerk’s office.

 

Here’s what to know about voting by mail, state by state:

 

Alabama

Application deadline by mail: Oct. 29

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by noon on Nov. 3 or dropped off in person by the end of business on Nov. 2

Additional requirements: Signatures from two witnesses or a notary, in addition to a photocopy of your photo ID

 

Alaska

Application deadline: Oct. 24

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Postmarked or dropped off in person by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: Signature from a witness or notary

 

Arizona

Application deadline: Oct. 23

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

 

Arkansas

Application deadline by mail: Oct. 27

Application deadline in person: Nov. 2

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3 or dropped off in person by Nov. 2

Additional requirements: A photocopy of your photo ID

 

California

Application deadline: N/A*

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Postmarked or dropped off by Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 20

Additional Requirements: N/A

*All registered voters will automatically be sent absentee ballots

 

Colorado

Application deadline by mail: N/A*

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

*All registered voters will automatically be sent absentee ballots

 

Connecticut

Application deadline by mail: Nov. 2

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

 

Delaware

Application deadline by mail: Noon on Nov. 2*

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

*All registered voters will automatically be sent absentee ballot applications

 

District of Columbia

Application deadline: N/A*

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Ballots must be postmarked (or dropped off in person) by Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 10.

Additional requirements: N/A

*All registered voters will automatically be sent absentee ballots

 

Florida

Application deadline: Oct. 24, or Nov. 3 if in person

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

 

Georgia

Application deadline: Oct. 30

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

 

Hawaii

Application deadline: N/A*

Voted Ballot Deadline: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

*All registered voters will automatically be sent ballots

 

Idaho

Application deadline: Oct. 23

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

 

Illinois

Application deadline: Oct. 29, or Nov. 2 if in person*

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Postmarked or dropped off in person by Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 17

Additional requirements: N/A

*All registered voters will automatically be sent absentee ballot applications

 

Indiana

Application deadline: Oct. 22

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by noon on Nov. 3

Additional requirements: Cannot use fear of COVID as an excuse for requesting an absentee ballot

 

Iowa

Application deadline: Oct. 24*

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Postmarked by Nov. 2, received by noon on Nov. 9, or dropped off in person by Nov. 3.

Additional requirements: N/A

*All registered voters will automatically be sent absentee ballot applications

 

Kansas

Application deadline by mail: Oct. 27

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Postmarked or dropped off in person by Nov. 3, and received by Nov. 6

Additional requirements: N/A

 

Kentucky

Application deadline: Oct. 27

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

 

Louisiana

Application deadline: Oct. 30

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 2

Additional requirements: Signature from a witness. Cannot use fear of COVID as an excuse for requesting an absentee ballot

 

Maine

Application deadline: Oct. 29

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

 

Maryland

Application deadline: Oct. 20*

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Postmarked or dropped off in person by Nov. 3 and received by 10 a.m. on Nov. 13

Additional requirements: N/A

*All registered voters will automatically be sent absentee ballot applications

 

Massachussetts

Application deadline: Oct. 28*

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Postmarked or dropped off in person by Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 6

Additional requirements: N/A

*All registered voters will automatically be sent absentee ballot applications

 

Michigan

Application deadline: Oct. 30 or Nov. 2 if in person

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

 

Minnesota

Application deadline: Nov. 2

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Postmarked or dropped off in person by Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 10

Additional requirements: N/A

 

Mississippi

Application deadline: N/A

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Postmarked or dropped off in person by Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 10

Additional requirements: Notarization required. Cannot use fear of COVID as an excuse for requesting an absentee ballot (unless in “physician-imposed quarantine” or caring for someone who is).

 

Missouri

Application deadline: Oct. 21, or Nov. 2 in person

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: Notarization is required.

 

Montana

Application deadline: Noon on Nov. 2

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

 

Nebraska

Application deadline: Oct. 23

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

 

Nevada

Application deadline: N/A*

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Postmarked or dropped off in person by Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 10

Additional requirements: N/A

*All registered voters will automatically be sent absentee ballots

 

New Hampshire

Application deadline: Nov. 2

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

 

New Jersey

Application deadline: N/A*

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Postmarked or dropped off in person by Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 5. 

Additional requirements: N/A

*All registered voters will automatically be sent absentee ballots

 

New Mexico

Application deadline by mail: Oct. 20

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

 

New York

Application deadline: Oct. 27, or Nov. 2 if in person

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Postmarked or dropped off in person by Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 10

Additional requirements: Cannot use fear of COVID as an excuse for requesting an absentee ballot

 

North Carolina

Application deadline: Oct. 27

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Postmarked or dropped off in person by Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 6

Additional requirements: Signature of one witness

 

North Dakota

Application deadline: N/A

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Postmarked or dropped off in person by Nov. 2 and received by Nov. 9

Additional requirements: N/A

 

Ohio

Application deadline: Noon on Oct. 31*

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Postmarked by Nov. 2 and received by Nov. 13, or dropped off in person by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

*All registered voters will automatically be sent absentee ballot applications

 

Oklahoma

Application deadline: Oct. 27

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: All absentee ballots need to be notarized, but a COVID-positive voter or a voter who is at high risk for coronavirus can have use signature of two witnesses instead

 

Oregon

Application deadline: N/A*

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

*All registered voters will automatically be sent absentee ballots

 

Pennsylvania

Application deadline: Oct. 27

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

 

Rhode Island

Application deadline: Oct. 13, or Nov. 2 if an emergency ballot

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

 

South Carolina

Application deadline: Oct. 30, or Nov. 2 if in person

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: Signature from a witness. Cannot use fear of COVID as an excuse for requesting an absentee ballot

 

South Dakota

Application deadline: Nov. 2

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

 

Tennessee

Application deadline: Oct. 27

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: Cannot use fear of COVID as an excuse for requesting an absentee ballot, although you can use illness as an excuse if you are at high risk due to underlying health reasons

 

Texas

Application deadline: Oct. 23

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Postmarked or dropped off in person by Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 4

Additional requirements: Cannot use fear of COVID as an excuse for requesting an absentee ballot

 

Utah

Application deadline: N/A*

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Postmarked by Nov. 2 and received by noon on the day of your county canvass, or dropped off in person by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

*All registered voters will automatically be sent absentee ballots

 

Vermont

Application deadline: N/A*

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

*All registered voters will automatically be sent absentee ballots

 

Virginia

Application deadline: Oct. 27, or Oct. 31 if in person

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Postmarked or dropped off in person by Nov. 3 and received by noon on Nov. 6

Additional requirements: Signature from a witness

 

Washington

Application deadline: N/A*

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Postmarked or dropped off by person by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

*All registered voters will automatically be sent absentee ballots

 

West Virginia

Application deadline: Oct. 28

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 9, or dropped off in person by Nov. 2

Additional requirements: N/A

 

Wisconsin

Application deadline by mail: Oct. 29*

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: Signature from a witness

*All registered voters will automatically be sent absentee ballot applications

 

Wyoming

Application deadline: Nov. 2

Voted Ballot Deadline by mail: Received by Nov. 3

Additional requirements: N/A

 

A number of states are currently undergoing legal proceedings to make voting by mail easier leading up to the election, so residents of states with more stringent rules should keep checking back as we get closer to November. With a vote on the Delivering for America Act as well as proposed additional funding for the USPS in the second stimulus package in the pipeline, it’s likely voters will get a better idea of what casting their votes by absentee ballot will look like in the coming months.

 

This information is updated as of Aug. 19, 2020. We will note when further updates are made.

The post Here’s What to Know About Voting by Mail, State by State appeared first on The Everygirl.

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