Absentee Voting Rules

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What is Absentee Voting?

Absentee voting (aka “mail-in voting” and “by-mail voting”) is conducted by mail-in ballot before the day of Election Day.  All states will mail a ballot to voters if certain conditions are met.  The voter may return the ballot in person or by mail.  Some states will let voters apply for an absentee ballot in person before Election Day and then vote the ballot that same day.

  • Twenty one states require voters to provide an excuse for voting by absentee ballot.  
  • Twenty seven states and the District of Columbia offer no-excuse absentee voting.
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Alabama absentee ballot rules

You may vote by absentee ballot in Alabama if:

  • you will be absent from the county on Election Day
  • you are ill or have a physical disability that prevents a trip to the polling place
  • you are a registered Alabama voter who is temporarily living outside the county (such as a member of the armed forces, a voter employed outside of the United States, a college student, or a spouse or child of such a person)
  • you are an appointed election officer or poll watcher at a polling place other than your regular polling place
  • you work a required shift – 10 hours or more – that coincides with polling hours
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Alaska absentee ballot rules

Any registered Alaska voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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Arizona absentee ballot rules

Any registered Arizona voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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Arkansas absentee ballot rules

You need to include a copy of your Arkansas ID with your absentee ballot application.

You may vote by absentee ballot in Arkansas if:

  • you will be unavoidably absent from your polling site on Election Day
  • you will be unable to attend your polling site on Election Day due to illness or physical disability
  • you are a member of the U.S. armed forces, merchant marines or the spouse or a dependent family member
  • you are a U.S. citizen whose permanent residence is in Arkansas but who is temporarily living outside the United States
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California absentee ballot rules

Any registered California voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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Colorado absentee ballot rules

All registered Colorado voters receive mail ballots. You apply for an absentee ballot if you need your ballot mailed someplace other than your usual address.

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Connecticut absentee ballot rules

You may vote by absentee ballot in Connecticut if:

  • You will be absent from town during all the hours of voting
  • You are ill
  • You have a physical disability which makes it difficult for you to get to the polls
  • Your religious tenets forbid secular (non-religious) activity on Election Day
  • Your required performance of duties as a primary, referendum, or election official at a polling place other than your own during all the hours on Election Day
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Delaware absentee ballot rules

You must have your Delaware absentee ballot application notarized if you are a student, away on business, away on vacation, incarcerated, or unable to go to the polls for religious reasons.

You may vote by absentee ballot in Delaware if:

  • Your business or occupation prevents you from coming to the polls
  • You are a student who is away at college or university
  • You are on vacation
  • The tenets or teachings of your religion prevent you from coming to the polls
  • You are experiencing a temporary or permanent physical disability
  • You are in the public service of the United States or the State of Delaware and are unable to come to the polls
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District of Columbia absentee ballot rules

Any registered DC voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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Florida absentee ballot rules

Some counties will let you order your absentee ballot online. Please check with your Supervisor of Elections to see if this is possible in your county. You'll find their websites here: http://dos.elections.myflorida.com/supervisors/

Any registered Florida voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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Georgia absentee ballot rules

Any registered Georgia voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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Hawaii absentee ballot rules

Any registered Hawaii voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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Idaho absentee ballot rules

Any registered Idaho voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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Illinois absentee ballot rules

Any registered Illinois voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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Indiana absentee ballot rules

You may vote by absentee ballot In Indiana if:

  • You have a specific, reasonable expectation that you will be absent from the county on Election Day during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open (6 am until 6 pm).
  • You have a disability.
  • You are at least 65 years of age.
  • You will have official election duties outside of your voting precinct.
  • You are scheduled to work at your regular place of employment during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open.
  • You will be confined due to illness or injury or you will be caring for an individual confined due to illness or injury during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open.
  • You are prevented from voting because of a religious discipline or religious holiday during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open.
  • You are a participant in the state’s address confidentiality program.
  • You are a member of the military or a public safety officer.
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Iowa absentee ballot rules

Any registered Iowa voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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Kansas absentee ballot rules

You must provide your current Kansas drivers license number on your absentee ballot application. If you can't provide that number, then you need to include a copy of your photo ID with your application. You can find a list of acceptable forms of ID at www.vote.org/voter-id-laws.

Any registered Kansas voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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Kentucky absentee ballot rules

You may vote by absentee ballot in Kentucky if:

  • you are advanced in age, Disabled, or Ill
  • you are a military personnel or their dependent, or an overseas citizen
  • you are a student who temporarily resides outside the county
  • you are a voter who temporarily resides outside of Kentucky and who maintains eligibility to vote in Kentucky, such as a “snowbird”
  • you are incarcerated, but not yet convicted of a crime
  • you are employed outside of the county all hours the polling place is open.
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Louisiana absentee ballot rules

If you registered to vote by mail, you must vote in person the first time you vote. Exceptions to the first-time rule are: students who submit a copy of student ID or fee bill with the request; citizens who appear in the registrar of voters office before Election Day to verify their identity; military or overseas citizens; persons in the Senior Citizen or Disability Program; and participants in the state's address confidentiality program.

You may vote by absentee ballot in Louisiana if:

  • you are a student or teacher located and living outside of your parish of registration, or the spouse/dependent thereof;
  • you are a minister, priest, rabbi, or other member of the clergy assigned outside of your parish of registration, or the spouse/dependent thereof;
  • you are or expect to be temporarily outside the territorial limits of the state or absent from your parish of registration during the early voting period and on Election Day (view early voting dates);
  • you moved your residence to another parish more than 100 miles from the parish seat of your former residence after the voter registration books closed (the books close 30 days prior to Election Day);
  • you are involuntarily confined in an institution for mental treatment outside your parish of registration and you are not interdicted and not judicially declared incompetent;
  • you expect to be hospitalized on Election Day and did not have knowledge until after the time for early voting had expired; or you were hospitalized during the time for early voting and you expect to be hospitalized on Election Day; or you were either hospitalized or restricted to bed by your physician during early voting and on Election Day (view early voting dates);
  • you expect to be out of your precinct of registration and upon the waters of the state both during the early voting period and on Election Day because of your employment or occupation (view early voting dates);
  • you are incarcerated in an institution inside or outside of your parish of registration and you are not serving time for a felony conviction;
  • you are a program participant in the Department of State’s Address Confidentiality Program; or
  • you will be sequestered on the day of Election Day.
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Maine absentee ballot rules

Any registered Maine voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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Maryland absentee ballot rules

Any registered Maryland voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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Massachusetts absentee ballot rules

You may vote by absentee ballot in Massachusetts if:

  • you will be absent from your city or town on Election Day.
  • you have a physical disability that prevents your voting at the polling place.
  • you cannot vote at the polls due to religious beliefs
  • you are confined in a correctional facility or jail (but NOT on a felony charge) Generally, a voter must be registered in order to vote absentee, though several exceptions exist: Those outside of Massachusetts, prisoners, and members of the armed forces or merchant marine, or their spouses or dependents, do not need to be registered in order to vote absentee.
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Michigan absentee ballot rules

If you register to vote by mail you MUST vote in person the first time you vote. You cannot vote by absentee ballot. The restriction does not apply to overseas voters, voters who are disabled or voters who are 60 years of age or older.

You may vote by absentee ballot in Michigan if:

  • you are 60 years old or older
  • you are unable to vote without assistance at the polls
  • you are expecting to be out of town on Election Day
  • you are in jail awaiting arraignment or trial
  • you are unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons
  • you are appointed to work as Election Day inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.
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Minnesota absentee ballot rules

Any registered Minnesota voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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Mississippi absentee ballot rules

You may vote by absentee ballot in Mississippi if:

  • you will be away from your county on Election Day for any reason;
  • you are a student, teacher or administrator at a school whose studies or employment there necessitates your absence from your county on Election Day; or you are the spouse or dependent thereof;
  • you have a temporary or permanent physical disability that renders you unable to vote in person without substantial hardship;
  • you are the parent, spouse or dependent of a person with a temporary or permanent physical disability who is hospitalized outside of their county of residence or more than fifty (50) miles away, and you (the parent, spouse or dependent) will be with that person on Election Day;
  • you are sixty-five (65) years of age or older;
  • you will be unable to vote in person because you are required to be at work on Election Day during the times at which the polls will be open.
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Missouri absentee ballot rules

You can vote by absentee ballot in Missouri if:

  • you will be absent from your voting jurisdiction on Election Day
  • you are incapacitated or confined due to illness or physical disability, or caring for an incapacitated person
  • you are restricted by religious belief or practice
  • you are employed by Election Day authority
  • you are incarcerated, but have retained all your voting qualifications
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Montana absentee ballot rules

Any registered Montana voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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Nebraska absentee ballot rules

Any registered Nebraska voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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Nevada absentee ballot rules

Any registered Nevada voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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New Hampshire absentee ballot rules

You may vote by absentee ballot in New Hampshire if:

  • you will be absent on the day of any state election from the county, city, or town in which you are registered to vote
  • you are unable appear in public on Election Day because of your observance of a religious commitment
  • you are unable to vote in person by reason of physical disability
  • you are unable to vote in person by reason of military service
  • you are unable to appear at any time during polling hours at your polling place because an employment obligation requires you to remain physically at work or to be in transit to or from work from the time the polls open until after the time the polls close
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New Jersey absentee ballot rules

Any registered New Jersey voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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New Mexico absentee ballot rules

Any registered New Mexico voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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New York absentee ballot rules

You may vote by absentee ballot in New York if:

  • you are unavoidably absent from your county on Election Day
  • you are unable to appear at the polls due to illness or disability
  • you are a patient in a Veterans’ Administration Hospital
  • you are detained in jail awaiting Grand Jury action or confined in prison after conviction for an offense other than a felony
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North Carolina absentee ballot rules

Your signature on the application should be hand-written; North Carolina won't accept a digital signature. If you can't put a drivers license number or SSN on your application, you'll need to include a copy of ID with your application. When you get your absentee ballot, you'll need to fill it out in the presence of a notary or two witnesses, who will have to sign the ballot.

Any registered North Carolina voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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North Dakota absentee ballot rules

You need to include a copy of your ID with your absentee ballot application.

Any North Dakota resident may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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Ohio absentee ballot rules

You must provide your Ohio drivers license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number on your absentee ballot application. If you cannot provide either number, you'll need to include a copy of an acceptable form of ID with your application. You can find a list of acceptable IDs at www.vote.org/voter-id-laws.

Any registered Ohio voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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Oklahoma absentee ballot rules

Any registered Oklahoma voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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Oregon absentee ballot rules

All Oregon elections are held by mail. You may apply for an absentee ballot if you need your ballot mailed someplace other than your usual mailing address.

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Pennsylvania absentee ballot rules

Just a heads up: Pennsylvania requires you to provide your PA drivers license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number when you vote by absentee ballot. You'll see a place to enter this information on the absentee ballot itself. If you can't provide either of these numbers for whatever reason, you'll need to include a photocopy of your ID with this application.

You may vote by absentee ballot in Pennsylvania if:

  • you are in the military service of the United States (military voters do not need to be registered to vote to vote by absentee ballot, and they do not need to be overseas or even outside of Pennsylvania)
  • you are a spouse or dependent of someone in the military, and you expect expect on Election Day to be absent from the Commonwealth or the municipality of residence during the entire period in which the polling places are open for voting (7:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M).
  • you are a member of the Merchant Marine (or a spouse or dependent) and you expect on Election Day to be absent from the Commonwealth or the municipality of residence during the entire period in which the polling places are open for voting (7:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M).
  • you are a member of a religious or welfare group attached to and serving with the armed forces (or a spouse or dependent) and you expect on Election Day to be absent from the Commonwealth or the municipality of residence during the entire period in which the polling places are open for voting (7:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M).
  • you expect that your occupation or duties (including leaves of absence for teaching, vacations, and sabbatical leaves) will cause you to be away from your municipality on Election Day.  This also applies to spouses and dependents.
  • you are a war veteran who is bedridden or hospitalized due to illness or physical disability and therefore unable to vote in person (note: people who fall in this group can vote by absentee ballot even if they are not already registered).
  • you are ill or physically disabled and therefore unable to go to a polling place or operate a voting machine.
  • you are employed by the Commonwealth or the Federal Government and your duties require you to be absent from the Commonwealth or the municipality of your residence on Election Day. This also applies to spouses and dependents.
  • you are employed by the county and you expect that your Election Day duties will prevent you from voting.
  • you will be observing a religious holiday and will be unable to vote.
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Rhode Island absentee ballot rules

Any registered Rhode Island voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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South Carolina absentee ballot rules

You may vote by absentee ballot in South Carolina if:

  • you are a student away at college (or a spouse or dependent residing with the student)
  • you are a member of the Armed Forces, Merchant Marines, Red Cross, USO, government employees (or a spouse or dependent residing with such a person)
  • you live overseas
  • your job prevents you from voting in person
  • you are physically disabled
  • you are away on vacation
  • you are 65 or older
  • you have been admitted to the hospital as an emergency patient on day of election or at least four days prior to Election Day
  • there has been a death or funeral in your family within 3 days before Election Day
  • you are confined to a jail or pre-trial facility pending disposition of arrest or trial
  • you are attending sick or physically disabled persons
  • you are on jury duty in state or federal court on Election Day
  • you are a certified poll watcher, poll manager, or county election official and you will be working on Election Day
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South Dakota absentee ballot rules

You must send a copy your South Dakota photo ID with your absentee ballot application. You can find a list of acceptable forms of ID at www.vote.org/voter-id-laws. If you can't get a copy of an acceptable form of photo ID, then you must have your absentee ballot application signed and notarized by an authorized witness.

Any registered South Dakota voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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Tennessee absentee ballot rules

If you registered to vote by mail, you must vote in person in the first Tennessee election in which you vote. If you registered in person, you may vote absentee in your first election.

You may vote by absentee ballot in Tennessee if:

  • you will be outside the county of registration during the early voting period and all day on Election Day;
  • you or your spouse are enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited college or university outside the county of registration;
  • a licensed physician has filed a statement with the county election commission stating that, in the physician’s judgment, you are medically unable to vote in person. The statement must be filed not less than five (5) days before Election Day and signed under the penalty of perjury;
  • you reside in a licensed facility providing relatively permanent domiciliary care, other than a penal institution, outside the voter’s county of residence;
  • you will be unable to vote in person due to service as a juror for a federal or state court;
  • you are sixty (60) years of age or older;
  • you have a physical disability and an inaccessible polling place;
  • you are hospitalized, ill, or physically disabled and because of such condition, cannot vote in person;
  • you are the caretaker of a person who is hospitalized, ill, or disabled;
  • you are a candidate for office in the election;
  • you serve as an Election Day official or as a member or employee of Election Day commission;
  • you will be observing a religious holiday which prevents you from voting in person during the early voting period and on Election Day;
  • you possess a valid commercial driver license and you certify that you will be working outside the state or county of registration during the early voting period and all day on Election Day;
  • you are a member of the military or is an overseas citizen.
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Texas absentee ballot rules

If you are a first-time voter and you did not provide either your Texas drivers license number or Social Security number on your voter registration form, you need to include a copy of photo ID with your application (disabled persons are exempt). Texas is very strict about ID (student ID cards don't count).

You may vote by absentee ballot in Texas if:

  • you are 65 years or older;
  • you are disabled;
  • you will be out of the county on Election Day and during the period for early voting by personal appearance; or
  • you are confined in jail, but otherwise eligible.
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Utah absentee ballot rules

Any registered Utah voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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Vermont absentee ballot rules

Any registered Vermont voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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Virginia absentee ballot rules

If you registered to vote by mail, you must vote in person the first time you vote unless you are a full-time college student; an active duty military or overseas voter; a physically handicapped individuals; or 65 or older. If you registered to vote in person, you may vote by absentee ballot the first time you vote, but you have to wait 5 days after registering to vote before you can request an absentee ballot.

You may vote by absentee ballot in Virginia if:

  • you are a student (or the spouse of a student) attending college or university outside of your Virginia locality
  • you have business outside your county/city of residence on Election Day
  • you have personal business or vacation outside county/city of residence on Election Day
  • you are working and commuting to/from home for 11 or more hours between 6am and 7pm on Election Day
  • you are a first responder (member of law enforcement, fire fighter, emergency technician, search and rescue)
  • you have a disability or illness
  • you are primarily and personally responsible for the care of a disabled/ill family member confined at home
  • you are pregnant
  • you are confined, and awaiting trial, or convicted of a misdemeanor
  • you are an electoral board member, registrar, officer of election, or custodian of voting equipment
  • you have a religious obligation that prevents you from voting on Election Day
  • you are an active duty member of the Armed Forces or Merchant Marine (or the spouse of an active duty member)
  • you are temporarily residing outside of US
  • you moved to another state less than 30 days before a presidential election (you will only receive a ballot for the presidential/vice-presidential election; ballots for other offices/issues will not be sent)
  • you are an authorized representative of candidate or party serving inside the polling place
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Washington absentee ballot rules

All Washington elections are held by mail. You may apply for an absentee ballot if you need your ballot mailed someplace other than your usual mailing address.

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West Virginia absentee ballot rules

You may vote by absentee ballot in West Virginia if:

  • you will be on personal or business travel during both the early voting period and Election Day;
  • you are attending a college, university or other place of education or training;
  • you are ill, or have an injury or other medical reason that keeps you confined;
  • you are incapacitated due to advanced age or a physical disability;
  • you are incarcerated or detained in jail or a home, but m not under conviction of any felony, of treason or of bribery in Election Day (including any period of probation or parole);
  • you employment makes voting in person impossible because of the hours worked and distance from the county seat;
  • you are a participant in the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) with the Office of the Secretary of State;
  • the county absentee voting office and your polling place are inaccessible to to you due to your physical disability.
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Wisconsin absentee ballot rules

All voters who are not indefinitely confined due to age, illness, infirmity, or disability or are not military or permanently overseas are required to provide photo ID when requesting an absentee ballot. Please contact your Local Election Official with any questions.

Any registered Wisconsin voter may apply for an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

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