How The Absentee Ballot Work

If you lack mobility, or away on vacation or business during the time of an election, this doesn’t let you off the hook, my friend! You can still play your role in stopping Trump.

You can do this by voting with an absentee ballot.

What Is An Absentee Ballot?

An absentee ballot is a vote from an individual who is unable to make it to a polling station.

Which States Allow Absentee Ballot Voting?

Each state has different rules regarding absentee ballots.

In some states, anyone can vote via absentee ballots. Other states require that you have a valid reason for voting with an absentee ballot.

States Rules Regarding Absentee Ballot Voting

Regarding absentee and early voting, states fall into 4 categories:

  • Allows early voting, but an excuse is required for absentee voting –
  • Allows early voting AND non-excuse absentee voting
  • All-mail voting
  • Non-early voting: excuse required for absentee voting

Search the table below to learn more about the absentee balloting rules for your state.

StateRulesWhen Early voting starts
AlabamaNon-early voting: excuse required for absentee voting
Alabama does not offer Early Voting, but you can vote by absentee ballot in person before Election Day.
AlaskaAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingEarly voting starts 15 days before Election Day.

ArizonaAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingEarly voting starts 26 days before Election Day.

Arkansas Allows early voting; Absentee voting although excuse required Early voting starts 15 days before a primary or general election, and 7 days before a special election.
CaliforniaAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingEarly voting start times vary by county. In general, early voting starts 30 days before Election Day.

ColoradoAll-mail voting Every Colorado voter receives a ballot in the mail, but you can still vote in person at a Voter Service and Polling Center if you'd like. In-person voting voting begins at least 7 days before Election Day.
ConnecticutNon-early voting: excuse required for absentee votingYou can vote by absentee ballot in person in Connecticut beginning 31 days before Election Day and ending on Election Day.

DelawareNon-early voting: excuse required for absentee votingDelaware does not offer Early Voting, but you can apply for in-person absentee voting until 12 p.m. the day before Election Day.
D.C. Allows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingEarly voting starts 15 days before Election Day at One Judiciary Square and 10 days before Election Day at other early vote locations.
FloridaAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingEarly voting starts 10 days before Election Day.
GeorgiaAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingEarly voting begins the fourth Monday before Election Day.
HawaiiAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingEarly voting starts two Tuesdays before Election Day.
IdahoAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingEarly voting starts the third Monday before Election Day (or, in some cases, earlier). Contact your Local Election Office for more information.
IllinoisAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee voting
Early voting begins 15 days before Election Day.
IndianaAllows early voting; Absentee voting although excuse required Early voting starts 28 days before Election Day.
IowaAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingIf you are unable to vote in person in Iowa on Election Day, you can vote early by absentee ballot in-person at your county auditor's office as soon as ballots are available.
KansasAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingEarly voting must start by the Tuesday before Election Day. In some counties early voting starts as early as 20 days before Election Day.
KentuckyNon-early voting: excuse required for absentee voting
Kentucky does not have early voting, but if you qualify to vote by absentee ballot, you can cast your absentee ballot in person starting 12 days (or more) before Election Day. See the section on Absentee Ballot Eligibility for a description of who qualifies.
LouisianaAllows early voting; Absentee voting although excuse required Early voting starts 14 days before Election Day.
MaineAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingEarly voting starts as soon as ballots are available (usually 30-45 days before Election Day)
MarylandAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingEarly voting starts the second Thursday before Election Day.

For the Presidential General Election, early voting centers are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day. For all other elections, early voting centers are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day.
MassachusettsAllows early votingEarly voting starts 11 business days before Election Day.
MichiganNon-early voting: excuse required for absentee voting
MinnesotaAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingEarly voting starts 46 days before Election Day.
MississippiNon-early voting: excuse required for absentee voting
If you are unable to vote in person in Mississippi on Election Day and are eligible to vote by absentee ballot, you can do so in-person starting as soon as absentee ballots are available.
MissouriNon-early voting: excuse required for absentee votingIf you can't vote in person in Missouri on Election Day and are eligible to vote by absentee ballot, you can vote absentee in-person starting as soon as absentee ballots are available.

MontanaAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingYou can vote early by casting an absentee ballot in person starting as soon as the official ballot becomes available, usually 30 days before Election Day.
NebraskaAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingEarly voting starts 30 days before Election Day.
NevadaAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingEarly voting start times vary by county.
New HampshireNon-early voting: excuse required for absentee voting
New JerseyAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingEarly voting starts as soon as ballots are available, on or about the 45th day before the election. The exact start times vary by county, so it's best to call your Local Election Office and ask.
New MexicoAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingEarly voting starts the third Saturday before Election Day.
New YorkNon-early voting: excuse required for absentee voting
If you can't vote in person on Election Day and you are eligible to vote by absentee ballot, you can vote in person by absentee ballot as soon as ballots are available (at least 32 days before Election Day).
North CaroliaAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingEarly voting starts the 3rd Thursday before Election Day

North DakotaAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingEarly voting start times vary by county.
OhioAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingIf you are unable to vote in person in Ohio on Election Day, you can vote by absentee ballot in-person beginning 29 days before the election.
OklahomaAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingOklahoma does not offer Early Voting, but does allow you to vote in person by absentee ballot from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on the Thursday and Friday before Election Day and from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on the Saturday before Election Day.

OregonAll-mail voting All Oregon elections are held by mail-in ballot. You can turn in your ballot by mail or in person anytime before 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.
PennsylvaniaNon-early voting: excuse required for absentee voting
Rhode IslandNon-early voting: excuse required for absentee votingRhode Island does not have early in-person voting, but any Rhode Island voter can register and vote early by mail.
South CarolinaNon-early voting: excuse required for absentee votingIf you can't vote in person on Election Day and are eligible to vote by absentee ballot you can vote absentee in-person as soon as ballots are available. You can apply for and vote your absentee ballot during the same visit to your Local Election Office.
South DakotaAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingYou can vote early by submitting an absentee ballot in person. Start times vary by county, but absentee ballots are usually available 46 days before Election Day.
Tennessee Allows early voting; Absentee voting although excuse required Early voting starts 20 days before Election Day.
TexasAllows early voting; Absentee voting although excuse required Early voting starts 17 days before most elections in Texas. If that day falls on a weekend, then early voting starts the following Monday.
Utah Allows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingEarly voting starts 14 days before Election Day.
VermontAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingEarly voting starts 45 days before a primary or general election - 20 days before a municipal election.
VirginiaNon-early voting: excuse required for absentee votingIf you can't vote in person on Election Day and meet the requirements to vote by absentee ballot, you can vote by absentee ballot in person starting as soon as ballots are available, usually about 45 days before Election Day. If you are already registered to vote, you can apply for and vote your absentee ballot during the same visit to your Local Election Office.
WashingtonAll-mail voting 
West VirginiaAllows early voting; Absentee voting although excuse required Early voting takes place during regular business hours and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m starting 13 days before Election Day.

WisconsinAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingEarly voting starts weeks before the Election Day -- each municipality (town or village) has a different start date, so contact your Local Election Office to find out when it starts where you live. Bring your photo ID with you when you vote.
WyomingAllows early voting AND non-excuse absentee votingEarly voting starts 40 days before Election Day.

 

What Is The Difference Between Excuse And Non-Excuse Absentee Voting?

If you live in a state that allows absentee voting but requires an excuse, you will need to provide a reason why you cannot make it to the polls to vote on election day.

If your state allows absentee voting but does not require an excuse, you do not need to provide a reason why you are voting early.

What Are Valid Excuses For Voting With An Absentee Ballot?

This question is important if you live in those states with absentee balloting that requires an excuse.

Each state has different rules regarding excuses, but here are the most common reasons:

  • You have a disability or injury that prevents you from getting to your polling place
  • If you are away on travel or vacation outside of your city or residence on election day
  • You are a student who attends a school out of county or state
  • Anyone in the military who is stationed outside the country. Go here for a military absentee ballot.

Acceptable Excuses For Absentee Voting By State

To learn more about acceptable excuses in your state, go here.

How To Vote Absentee Ballot

Each state varies, but to vote using absentee ballots this is the process:

  1. Completing your Absentee Ballot Form
  2. Mailing it to your local county clerk

Vote.org has made the process of obtaining absentee ballots simple. So simple it will take you less than 3 minutes. To claim yours use the link below.

Get Your Absentee Ballot

Again, once you receive your ballot in the mail complete the ballot form and then mail it to your local county clerk. The address to your country clerk will be located on your ballot.

Below is an absentee ballot form.

absentee ballot

This is an absentee ballot application. Complete this and mail it to your county clerk.

absentee ballot

 

Conclusion

If a lack of mobility, work or school prevents you from voting on election day, you may be able to vote using absentee ballots. To find out if you can vote via absentee ballot you will need to check with your state because each state is different.

Obtaining absentee ballots may require more work, but it’s well worth the effort if it leads to Trump moving out of the White House and back into one of his shoddy hotels.

Other articles of interest:

To learn more about absentee voting in your state or obtain a ballot go here.

If you need to register to vote, go here.

Should you need to find a polling place, go here.

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