All states allow some form of absentee voting. Though absentee ballots are typically used by voters who are out of town on Election Day, military personnel stationed overseas, and the home-bound, they can be used by voters more broadly as a way to vote by mail and avoid crowded polling sites. Most states provide absentee ballots upon request to any registered voter who asks – no excuses required (to see your states’ excuse policy, see our map below).
Learn about absentee ballot options in your state and use them as part of your nonprofit’s voter engagement strategy.
Challenges: Some communities such as homeless or Native American communities without standard addresses, visually impaired, and non-English communities face unique challenges that need special attention. It’s a reason that in-person voting is still necessary as a fall-back. It also requires special equipment for election administrators and added expenses for printing and mailing.
Recent Absentee Ballot Changes: In an effort to cut down on COVID-19 exposure at in-person voting, the following states have changed their absentee ballot process and are now shipping ballot request forms to all registered voters automatically.
Recent All-Mail Election States: These states have recently changed policies to send registered voters absentee ballots in the mail to avoid in-person voting.
Options for Requesting Absentee Ballots:
Email links with absentee voting information to your members:
Voting in a primary: For remaining state primary elections, the ACLU has a guide with deadlines and links for requesting absentee ballots.
Online tool: You can use Vote.org’s absentee ballot tool across all 50 states to see absentee ballot requirements and fill out a mailable PDF to request a ballot. You will need to return it before your state’s deadline.
Learn if your nonprofit can distribute and/or collect absentee ballot request forms:
Can you distribute or collect forms? Some states have rules on whether a nonprofit (considered a third party group) can give or help voters submit absentee ballot request forms. See our “Collecting Absentee Ballot Request Forms” page to learn more.
Deadlines to Request for Primary Elections — See our updated guide
Deadlines to Request for General Election: