Collecting Absentee Ballot Request Forms

UPDATED: 3/27/20

Nonprofits are considered “Third Party groups” when distributing or collecting absentee ballot applications. Your state may have restrictions on these activities. Note that this is different than collecting actual absentee ballots. For rules on collection see the National Conferences of State Legislators section on “Returning a Voted Absentee Ballot.”

Restriction Categories

Nonprofit VOTE does not provide legal council. The following information is our best recommendation based on trusted cited sources and state laws.  For most up to date and accurate information, call your elections official, who you can locate at the US Vote Foundation.

We have categorized policies across states into the following:

  • No restrictions
    • No restrictions on third parties or do not specify restrictions on these activities
  • Timely Submission
    • Collection is permitted, but with a deadline on the turnaround time between submission and completion of the form.
  • Additional Action/Criteria
    • Third party groups must take additional actions or fit criteria to distribute and/or collect.  (Examples: Register with Elections Office before starting, sign collected request forms, etc)
  • Collection Restrictions
    • Third parties cannot submit completed forms for voters 
  • Collection & Distribution Restrictions
    • Third parties cannot distribute blank forms nor submit completed forms for voters
  • Not Applicable
    • The state has automatic vote by mail and therefore does not require an application before receiving a ballot by mail

 

See above for category descriptions

Categories by State

We have categorized states into the following:

  • No restrictions: Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Virginia, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine
  • Timely Submission: Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico, Iowa
  • Additional Action/Criteria: Alaska, Connecticut, Nevada, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Texas, Michigan
  • Collection Restrictions: Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, Louisiana
  • Collection & Distribution Restrictions: South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia
  • Not Applicable: Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Hawaii, Utah

 

Detailed Restrictions by State

Listed below are more specifics on each state’s rules around running your absentee ballot request drive. These can inform whether a third party group such as a nonprofit can distribute and/or collect completed absentee ballot applications.

No restrictions

No restrictions on third parties or do not specify restrictions on these activities. However, there may be restrictions in your state on whether immediate family can make an application on behalf of a voter (ex: disabled or spouse).

Timely Submission: 

Collection is permitted, but with a deadline on the turnaround time between submission and completion of the form. Each state has different deadlines for ensuring that voters receive their absentee ballot in time to complete and return it.

  • Arizona: Must be submitted within six days of receipt 1
  • California: Must be submitted with 72 hours of receipt 1
  • Illinois: Must be returned to the election authority within seven days of receipt, or within two days of receipt if within two weeks of the election 1
  • Indiana: Must indicate the date received by the voter and deliver it to the county election board within 10 days or by the application deadline 1
  • Iowa: Submitted within 72 hours of completion 2
  • Kansas: Must deliver any application within two days of completion 1
  • Minnesota: Must be returned to the election office within 10 days of completion 1
  • New Mexico: Submitted within 48 hours of completion 1

Additional Action/Criteria: 

Third party groups must take additional actions or fit criteria to distribute and/or collect. 

  • Alaska: Restricted to supplying only their own affiliated members with an application 1
  • Connecticut: Must register with the town clerk before distributing five or more applications. Unsolicited application mailings must meet certain criteria. No person shall pay or give any compensation to another person for distribution absentee/mailed ballot applications 1
  • Mississippi: Any person may apply for an absentee ballot on another voter’s behalf, but they must sign and print their name and address on the application. Only immediate family members of a voter may make application orally in person. No person may solicit ballot applications or absentee ballots for persons staying in any skilled nursing facility unless they are a family member or designated by the voter 1
  • Nevada: A person who, six months before an election, intends to distribute more than 500 applications must use the prescribed secretary of state form, identify the person who is distributing the form, provide notice to the count clerk not later than 28 days before distributing such a form, and not mail such a form later than 35 days before the election 1
  • New Hampshire: May distribute and collect absentee applications so long as they use the prescribed form and identify themselves in communication with voter 1
  • Texas: It is a felony to knowingly submit an application for a ballot by mail without the knowledge and authorization of the voter or alter the information provided by the voter on the application 1
  • West Virginia: Call your municipal election official for procedures in your area 2

Collection Restrictions

Third parties cannot submit completed forms for voters 

  • Alaska: An application may not be submitted to any intermediary who could control or delay the submission of the application or gather data on the applicant 1
  • Alabama: Only the voter may deliver her or his own completed application in person 1
  • Arkansas: Only a designated bearer, authorized agent or long-term care facility administrator of a voter may deliver absentee applications in person on behalf of voters 1
  • Georgia: Applications may be submitted by immediate family members only on behalf of a physically disabled voter; proof of relationship must be provided 1
  • Louisiana: No person, except the immediate family of any voter, shall send by facsimile more than one voter’s application to vote by mail to the registrar of voters. 2
  • Michigan: Nonprofits are not allowed to solicit or request to return completed applications for voters, but they may select any registered elector to return their application, as long as you sign and return the certificate at the bottom. 2
  • Missouri: Application for an absentee ballot may be made by the applicant in person, or by mail, or for the applicant, in person, by his or her guardian or a relative within the second degree by consanguinity or affinity. 2
  • Oklahoma: Prohibits delivering an absentee application for another voter unless the person is an authorized agent of an incapacitated voter 1

Collection & Distribution Restrictions:  

Third parties cannot distribute blank forms nor submit completed forms for voters

  • South Carolina: Only an immediate family member may submit an application on behalf of a voter, No third-party distribution is allowed 1 
  • Tennessee: Only one application may be furnished to a voter by the election commission; it is a class E felony to give an application to any person and a class A misdemeanor to give an unsolicited request for application to any person 1

See a more detailed list potential penalties and legal codes at National Conference of State Legislatures: Voting Outside the Polling Place

 

Sources:

1National Conference of State Legislatures: Voting Outside the Polling Place, Current as of Feb 2020

2 State law