/How to Vote by Mail in Every State

How to Vote by Mail in Every State


More Americans than ever are expected to vote by mail in this year’s presidential election as states attempt to make voting safer amid the global pandemic.

Five states—Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah—routinely conduct their elections almost entirely by mail. In response to the spread of Covid-19, at least four additional states—California, Nevada, New Jersey and Vermont—and the District of Columbia have pledged to mail ballots to all properly registered voters for the November election. Some other states made it easier to vote by mail in response to the coronavirus crisis by changing various rules.

Mail-in balloting rules

States

automatically mailing out ballots

States allowing mail-in-voting for everyone*

States requiring a justification for mail-in voting

States allowing mail-in

voting for everyone*

States requiring a justification for mail-in voting

States automatically mailing out ballots

States allowing mail-in

voting for everyone*

States requiring a justification for mail-in voting

States automatically mailing out ballots

States automatically mailing out ballots

States allowing mail-in-voting for everyone*

States requiring a justification for mail-in voting

More than 33 million ballots were cast by mail or absentee in the 2016 general election, roughly 24% of the 140 million Americans who voted.

When you must request your ballot

Many states allow any voter to request an absentee ballot in advance, such as by mailing an application or applying online or in person, depending on the state. A smaller number of states require voters to cite a specific reason on their application for voting absentee, such as being out of town on Election Day. Some states, including New Hampshire and West Virginia, allow voters to cite concerns over the coronavirus as their reason.

Source: state election offices

When ballots have to be received or postmarked

Election officials say that if you want to vote by mail, you should make sure you have enough time. Some states allow voters to request a mail-in ballot just a few days before the election, but the Postal Service has said that might not allow enough time given standard delivery times. The Postal Service has said voters should mail their ballots at least a week in advance of their state’s due date. Some voters, depending on where they live, might have alternatives to placing the ballot in the mail, such as in secure drop boxes.

Deadline for ballot if mailed

Postmarked

one day before

the election

Postmarked by

Election Day

Received one

day before

the election

States automatically mailing out ballots

States allowing mail-in voting for everyone

States requiring a justification for mail-in voting

Postmarked by

Election Day

Received one

day before

the election

Postmarked

one day before

the election

States automatically mailing out ballots

States allowing mail-in voting for everyone

States requiring a justification for mail-in voting

Postmarked

one day before

the election

Received one

day before

the election

Postmarked by

Election Day

States automatically mailing out ballots

States allowing mail-in voting for everyone

States requiring a justification for mail-in voting

States automatically mailing out ballots

States allowing mail-in-voting for everyone

States requiring a justification for mail-in voting

Received one day before the election

Postmarked one day before the election

Postmarked by Election Day

Mailed ballots can take longer to count than in-person votes for several reasons, such as the time it takes to open return envelopes or verify signatures. Election officials stress that accuracy is more important than speed.

Depending on the law, some states will count ballots that are delivered after the election if they are postmarked by a deadline or meet other requirements. North Carolina, for example, will accept absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day if they arrive no later than three days after. Many state and local officials are scrambling to prepare for an uptick, although they face time and budget constraints.

EXPLORE ALL 50 STATES
States automatically mailing out ballots

Source: state election offices

States requiring a justification for mail-in voting

Source: state election offices

States allowing mail-in-voting for everyone, including those that allow fear of Covid-19 as a justification

Source: state election offices

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