Where your state stands on voting by mail

August 14, 2020
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Where your state stands on voting by mail

Whether or not registered voters should be able to mail in a vote has long been a contentious topic. The 2020 presidential election is unlike any election before it due to the global coronavirus pandemic. Large gatherings such as in-person voting could result in the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which states want to avoid. Due to this reason, many states have amended voter laws to allow an exception for mail-in ballots this year.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey 5-year estimates, August 2020 information compiled by RepresentUs and The Brookings Institution, and each state's official website, Stacker compiled the mail-in voting policies and the voting-eligible population for every state. Deadlines to request and submit absentee ballots vary by state, as do requirements like notary or witness signatures on absentee ballots and whether copies of photo IDs are necessary for ballots to be counted.

Many Americans wonder whether a more significant number of mail-in ballots will show a bigger voter turnout. However, not all states are on board with widespread absentee ballots, and have not amended laws to make voting easier. A few states require voters to have a valid excuse (usually military, age, religious, disability, or absentee reasons) to request a mail-in ballot.

Oregon, Washington, and Utah stand out as the few states that automatically send absentee ballots to voters every year. Oregon began sending ballots to voters in 2000, and the state has seen a much more massive voter turnout as a result.

Other states with a large voter population, such as New York, have amended state law this year and are expected to make significant changes in the upcoming presidential election. New York will send absentee ballots to active and inactive voters this year, which will likely make a huge impact, as there are 13,686,685 residents of voting age.

States that do not allow for mail-in ballots without a valid excuse may see a decrease in votes this year, as many voters do not want to risk contracting COVID-19 to cast a vote. Allowing a broader sampling of voters to cast a mail-in ballot does make it easier for people to vote. One downside to mail-in voting is that it takes longer to count votes. Recent moves by the United States Postal Service’s new postmaster general prompted fears that mail delays would cause votes to go uncounted; on Aug. 18 it was announced that the policy changes resulting in delays would be halted until after the presidential election. It’s unclear if the USPS will undo cuts already in place or just delay additional measures from being implemented.

Read on to find out the voting requirements in every state.

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Alabama

- Estimated voting-age population: 3,671,110
- State mail-in voting status: temporarily allowing vote by mail options due to the COVID-19 crisis
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 29, 2020
--- Deadline to submit ballot: postmarked by Nov. 2, 2020 and received by 12 p.m. Nov. 3, 2020 (by mail); Nov. 2, 2020 by 5:00 p.m. (in person)
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: yes
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: yes
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: yes

Alabama allows mail-in ballots for those working shifts lasting more than 10 hours on voting day. People are also eligible for mail-in ballots if they are caregivers, ill, not living in the state, or incarcerated.

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Alaska

- Estimated voting-age population: 530,385
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 24, 2020
--- Deadline to submit ballot: postmarked on or before Election Day
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: yes
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

No reason is needed to vote absentee in the state of Alaska. Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer in March was given the right to allow entirely mail-in elections this year.

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Arizona

- Estimated voting-age population: 4,812,764
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 23, 2020 by 5:00 p.m.
--- Deadline to submit ballot: must be received by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Arizona residents do not need a reason to request a mail-in ballot. Most state residents already vote by mail, based on data from the secretary of state website, which also lets voters join the permanent early voting list.

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Arkansas

- Estimated voting-age population: 2,195,870
- State mail-in voting status: temporarily allowing vote by mail options due to the COVID-19 crisis
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 27, 2020 (by mail); by close of business Nov. 2, 2020 (in person)
--- Deadline to submit ballot: Oct. 27, 2020 (by mail); by close of business Nov. 2, 2020 (in person)
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: yes

Arkansas requires that voters submit an application for an absentee ballot. Arkansas’s legislature recently changed the requirements for mail-in voting, declaring those “who conclude their attendance at the poll raises concerns to their health or the health of others as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic” may request and submit absentee ballots.

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California

- Estimated voting-age population: 25,232,634
- State mail-in voting status: vote by mail is the default (all voters are mailed a ballot)
--- Deadline to request ballot: not applicable
--- Deadline to submit ballot: postmarked by Election Day and received within 17 days (by mail); by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day (in person)
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

California usually sends mail-in ballots just to those who request them. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order in May declaring all registered voters would be sent a mail-in ballot to minimize risks to voters during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

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Colorado

- Estimated voting-age population: 3,979,325
- State mail-in voting status: vote by mail is the default (all voters are mailed a ballot)
--- Deadline to request ballot: not applicable
--- Deadline to submit ballot: mail ballots must be received by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

All Colorado voters receive mail-in ballots. The state began mailing ballots to everyone registered to vote in 2013, regardless of their geographic location or other factors.

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Connecticut

- Estimated voting-age population: 2,600,979
- State mail-in voting status: temporarily allowing vote by mail options due to the COVID-19 crisis
--- Deadline to request ballot: Nov. 2, 2020
--- Deadline to submit ballot: ballot must be postmarked by Nov. 3, 2020 and received by Nov. 5, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Connecticut voters can request an absentee ballot if they are out of the state, sick or disabled, or in the military, or if a religious belief prevents in-person attendance. The state in 2020 announced all voters would be sent a ballot, regardless of status, due to the global pandemic.

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Delaware

- Estimated voting-age population: 704,108
- State mail-in voting status: temporarily allowing vote by mail options due to the COVID-19 crisis
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 30, 2020
--- Deadline to submit ballot: must be received by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Delaware voters can request an absentee ballot if they are sick, out of the state, disabled, or part of the armed services, or have a religious reason. In 2020, voters that feel unsafe voting in person due to the global pandemic can request an absentee ballot.

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Florida

- Estimated voting-age population: 14,724,113
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 24, 2020 by 5:00 p.m.
--- Deadline to submit ballot: must be received by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Florida voters do not need a reason to vote absentee and can request a mail-in ballot. Ballots must be received by election day in the state of Florida. Despite undercutting voting by mail, President Donald Trump requested an absentee ballot at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

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Georgia

- Estimated voting-age population: 7,254,693
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 30, 2020
--- Deadline to submit ballot: must be received by Nov. 3, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: yes

Voters in Georgia can request an absentee ballot up to 180 days before an election. No reason is required to vote absentee in the state. Georgia is currently grappling with the potential for tens of thousands of voter registrations to be classified as “inactive,” a purge election officials claim is to keep the voter rolls up to date but that could lead to confusion if people are led to believe they’re ineligible to vote.

 

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Hawaii

- Estimated voting-age population: 1,016,556
- State mail-in voting status: vote by mail is the default (all voters are mailed a ballot)
--- Deadline to request ballot: ballot is automatically mailed to you on Oct. 16, 2020
--- Deadline to submit ballot: must be received by Election Day, through the mail or at a dropbox location
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Hawaii voters will automatically receive mail-in ballots. The 2020 election will be the first to move to all mail-in ballots, kicking off Aug. 8 with the primaries. Hawaii had the lowest voter turnout in the U.S. for the 2016 presidential election, with only 42.3% casting a ballot, the only state to dip below 50% turnout.

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Idaho

- Estimated voting-age population: 1,192,742
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: 8:00 on Oct. 23, 2020 for the general election
--- Deadline to submit ballot: must be received by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Voters in Idaho can request a mail-in ballot. The state voted completely by mail in its May primary, but for the November election has not moved to an entirely mail-in system.

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Illinois

- Estimated voting-age population: 9,055,187
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 29, 2020
--- Deadline to submit ballot: must be postmarked by Election Day and received within 14 days
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Registered voters in Illinois do not need a reason to request a mail-in ballot. Any voter that applied for an official ballot for any election in 2018, 2019, or 2020 will automatically receive a ballot by mail.

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Indiana

- Estimated voting-age population: 4,876,218
- State mail-in voting status: voters need an “excuse” to request vote by mail ballot (“excuse required”)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 22, 2020
--- Deadline to submit ballot: must be received by 12:00 p.m. on Election Day
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Registered voters in Indiana will automatically receive a ballot for the 2020 presidential election. In future years, a valid excuse was required to request a mail-in ballot (sickness, military leave, disability, age, or religious reason).

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Iowa

- Estimated voting-age population: 2,312,666
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 24, 2020 by 5:00 p.m.
--- Deadline to submit ballot: must be received by close of polls on Nov. 3, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Any voter in the state of Iowa can request a mail-in ballot; all registered voters will receive a mail-in ballot in 2020. President Trump’s campaign has sued several counties in Iowa, claiming they violated instructions that absentee ballot request forms must be blank, and seeking to invalidate the forms already returned by voters.

 

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Kansas

- Estimated voting-age population: 2,077,566
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 27, 2020
--- Deadline to submit ballot: must be postmarked by Nov. 3, 2020 and received by Nov. 6, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Registered voters in Kansas can request a mail-in ballot and do not need an excuse. Residents have up to one week prior to the election to request an absentee ballot—otherwise the only way to vote is in-person.

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Kentucky

- Estimated voting-age population: 3,338,198
- State mail-in voting status: temporarily allowing vote by mail options due to the COVID-19 crisis
--- Deadline to request ballot: 4 p.m. EST on Oct. 5, 2020
--- Deadline to submit ballot: must be received by 6:00 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

This year, voters in Kansas can request a mail-in ballot without providing an excuse. Outside of a global pandemic, voters do need to give a reason to cast their vote by mail.

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Louisiana

- Estimated voting-age population: 3,452,767
- State mail-in voting status: voters need an “excuse” to request vote by mail ballot (“excuse required”)
--- Deadline to request ballot: 4:30 p.m. CST on Oct. 30, 2020
--- Deadline to submit ballot: must be received by your registrar by 4:30 p.m. CST Nov. 2, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Louisiana voters can request a mail-in ballot if they are out of town, sick, incarcerated, in the armed services, or have jury duty. The state’s legislature in May denied a bill that would have increased access to mail-in voting.

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Maine

- Estimated voting-age population: 1,059,542
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 29, 2020
--- Deadline to submit ballot: received by 8:00 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: yes
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

All registered voters in Maine can request an absentee ballot. No excuse is required to vote via mail in the state. Maine joined with several other states in a lawsuit alleging the new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has violated federal law with his policy changes that are resulting in delayed mail that could lead to in mail-in votes being missed in the November election.

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Maryland

- Estimated voting-age population: 4,262,388
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 20, 2020
--- Deadline to submit ballot: postmarked by Election Day and received by 10:00 am Nov. 13 (by mail); received by 8:00 p.m. or close of polls on Nov. 3, 2020 (in person)
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

All registered voters in the state of Maryland can request an absentee ballot. This year, the state plans to send mail-in ballots to everyone who has registered.

 

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Massachusetts

- Estimated voting-age population: 4,964,686
- State mail-in voting status: temporarily allowing vote by mail options due to the COVID-19 crisis
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 28, 2020 for the general election, or Aug. 26, 2020 for the primary
--- Deadline to submit ballot: postmarked by Nov. 3, 2020 and received by Nov. 6, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Any voter with a valid excuse (disabled, out of town, religious beliefs) can request a mail-in ballot. This year, any voter vulnerable to COVID-19 can also request one. More than 1 million people in the state have requested absentee ballots.

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Michigan

- Estimated voting-age population: 7,472,668
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: 5:00 p.m. on Oct. 30, 2020
--- Deadline to submit ballot: must be received by 8:00 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

All registered voters in Michigan can request a mail-in ballot. Because of the coronavirus epidemic, the state is sending absentee ballot applications to all of its registered voters.

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Minnesota

- Estimated voting-age population: 4,037,295
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: you can apply for a ballot any day of the year, except Nov. 3, 2020 leave time for election officials to mail your ballot
--- Deadline to submit ballot: received by Nov. 3, 2020 (by mail); 3:00 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020 (in person)
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Minnesota voters can request a mail-in ballot without reason. To help with social distancing, the state also moved 50 polling locations to places where keeping people 6 feet apart is feasible.

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Mississippi

- Estimated voting-age population: 2,228,659
- State mail-in voting status: voters need an “excuse” to request vote by mail ballot (“excuse required”)
--- Deadline to request ballot: voters can request a ballot anytime within 45 days of the election
--- Deadline to submit ballot: received by the circuit clerk’s office by 7:00 p.m. CST on Nov. 3, 2020 (by email or fax); postmarked by Election Day and received within 5 business days (by mail)
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Voters in Mississippi are among the few in the nation who need a reason to vote absentee: They can request a mail-in ballot if they are over the age of 65, away from home, or disabled, or have work conflicts. Mississippi’s Secretary of State Michael Watson has come out against expanding mail-in voting.

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Missouri

- Estimated voting-age population: 4,585,994
- State mail-in voting status: temporarily allowing vote by mail options due to the COVID-19 crisis
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 21, 2020 by 5:00 p.m.
--- Deadline to submit ballot: must be received by close of polls, 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: yes
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: yes
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

All registered voters in Missouri can apply for a mail-in ballot with a valid excuse. The state makes a distinction between absentee and mail-in ballots: Absentee voting requires an acceptable excuse, while mail-in ballots (new this year) can be requested by anyone, no excuse required—but ballots must be notarized.

 

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Montana

- Estimated voting-age population: 804,263
- State mail-in voting status: vote by mail is the default (all voters are mailed a ballot)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Nov. 2, 2020 by 12:00 p.m.
--- Deadline to submit ballot: must be received by 8:00 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: yes
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: yes
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

All registered voters in Montana can request a mail-in ballot. The state saw a record turnout at its June 2 primary, which was held entirely by mail.

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Nebraska

- Estimated voting-age population: 1,358,786
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 23, 2020
--- Deadline to submit ballot: must be received by 8:00 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: yes
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Voters in Nebraska can request a mail-in-ballot without an excuse. Nebraska had a record turnout in 2020 in the May 12 primary, which was the state’s first 100% mail-in election.

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Nevada

- Estimated voting-age population: 1,973,652
- State mail-in voting status: vote by mail is the default (all voters are mailed a ballot)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 20, 2020, by 5:00 p.m.
--- Deadline to submit ballot: received by 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020 (in person); postmarked by Nov. 3, 2020, and received within 7 days (by mail)
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Nevada allowed all registered voters to vote via mail-in ballot in the primary election and recently approved to do the same for the presidential election. Shortly after, the Trump campaign sued the state, claiming the new law “makes voter fraud and other ineligible voting inevitable.” Gov. Steve Sisolak said the lawsuit is “crazy, quite frankly.” Before the pandemic, all potential 1,973,652 voters could request a mail-in ballot without an excuse.

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New Hampshire

- Estimated voting-age population: 1,048,201
- State mail-in voting status: temporarily allowing vote by mail options due to the COVID-19 crisis
--- Deadline to request ballot: not applicable
--- Deadline to submit ballot: must be received by town clerk by 5:00 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

All registered voters will be sent a mail-in ballot this year. Before the pandemic, voters with a valid excuse could request a mail-in ballot; this April, all New Hampshire residents were eligible to vote by mail.

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New Jersey

- Estimated voting-age population: 6,117,615
- State mail-in voting status: vote by mail is the default (all voters are mailed a ballot)
--- Deadline to request ballot: 5:00 p.m. on Oct. 27, 2020 (by mail, fax, or a guardian); Nov. 2, 2020 by 5:00 p.m. (by the voter themselves in person)
--- Deadline to submit ballot: must be received by close of polls on Nov. 3, 2020 (in person); postmarked by Election Day and received by county board of elections within 48 hours of the polls closing (by mail)
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Any registered voter in the state of New Jersey can request an absentee ballot. In May, the state had a mail-in election and saw a higher turnout, but with delayed results.

 

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New Mexico

- Estimated voting-age population: 1,485,490
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 20, 2020 by 5:00 p.m.
--- Deadline to submit ballot: Nov. 3, 2020 by 7:00 p.m.
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

All 1,485,490 of-age voters in New Mexico will be sent a mail-in ballot this year. In previous years, all registered voters could request an absentee ballot without an excuse.

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New York

- Estimated voting-age population: 13,686,685
- State mail-in voting status: voters need an “excuse” to request vote by mail ballot (“excuse required”)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 27, 2020 (by mail), Nov. 2, 2020 (in person)
--- Deadline to submit ballot: postmarked by Nov. 3, 2020 and received by Nov. 10, 2020 (by mail); must be received by close of polls on Election Day (in person)
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

All voters, including inactive voters, will be sent a mail-in ballot this year. In previous years, all registered voters in New York state could request an absentee ballot with a valid excuse. New York is struggling to improve its voting system after taking more than a month to count votes in some of the state’s primary races in June.

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North Carolina

- Estimated voting-age population: 7,413,181
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 27, 2020 by 5:00 p.m.
--- Deadline to submit ballot: Nov. 3, 2020 (in person); postmarked by 5:00 p.m. on Election Day and received within 3 days (by mail)
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

All registered voters in the state of North Carolina can request an absentee ballot. The state expects a large number of mail-in votes this year from its potential 7,413,181 voters. There has been some confusion in the battleground state as residents receive unasked-for absentee ballot application forms from nonprofits and the Republican Party.

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North Dakota

- Estimated voting-age population: 562,632
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: no specific deadline listed yet
--- Deadline to submit ballot: received by Nov. 2, 2020 (in person); postmarked by Nov. 2, 2020 (by mail)
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: yes
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

All voters in North Dakota are eligible to vote by mail if an absentee ballot is requested. A June injunction barred voters from being automatically marked as ineligible due to mismatched signatures.

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Ohio

- Estimated voting-age population: 8,797,915
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 31, 2020
--- Deadline to submit ballot: received by Nov. 3, 2020 by 7:30 p.m. (in person); postmarked by Nov. 2 and received within 10 days (by mail)
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Registered voters in the state of Ohio can request a mail-in ballot without an excuse. Secretary of State Frank LaRose has proposed legislation that would expand early voting as a means of preventing overcrowding at the polls. As the state has done for past elections, all registered voters will get an absentee ballot request form in the mail around or after Labor Day weekend.

 

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Oklahoma

- Estimated voting-age population: 2,819,168
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 27, 2020 by 5:00 p.m.
--- Deadline to submit ballot: received by 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

This year, the state of Oklahoma passed a bill allowing any voter that meets "physically incapacitated" requirements to vote via mail without getting their ballot notarized. All 2,829,168 potential voters in Oklahoma are eligible for a mail-in ballot without an excuse, but those without that limitation are required to get their ballot notarized. The state saw a higher rate of absentee ballot requests for this year's June 30 primary.

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Oregon

- Estimated voting-age population: 3,002,261
- State mail-in voting status: vote by mail is the default (all voters are mailed a ballot)
--- Deadline to request ballot: not applicable
--- Deadline to submit ballot: received by 8:00 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: yes

Oregon sends mail-in ballots to all registered voters. In 2000, the state was the first to hold a presidential election entirely via mail. Oregon generally enjoys higher voter turnout than in other states.

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Pennsylvania

- Estimated voting-age population: 9,748,290
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 27, 2020 by 5:00 p.m.
--- Deadline to submit ballot: received by 8:00 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Any voter in Pennsylvania can request a mail-in ballot without an excuse. The state will even provide return postage so there’s no cost for voters to mail in their ballots. Following Pennsylvania’s primary in June, results were delayed due to absentee votes.

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Rhode Island

- Estimated voting-age population: 789,062
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 13, 2020 by 4:00 p.m.
--- Deadline to submit ballot: received by 8:00 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Rhode Island voters can choose to provide an excuse for an absentee ballot, but the state also allows them to request a mail-in ballot without reason. At present, there are around 789,062 residents of voting age in the state.

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South Carolina

- Estimated voting-age population: 3,731,348
- State mail-in voting status: voters need an “excuse” to request vote by mail ballot (“excuse required”)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 30, 2020 by 5:00 p.m.
--- Deadline to submit ballot: received by 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

If you are one of the 3,731,348 residents of voting age in South Carolina, standing policy has called for a valid excuse (military, religious, or away from the state) to obtain a mail-in ballot. That changed in June 2020, when the South Carolina legislature voted to allow anyone (regardless of explanation) to request an absentee ballot.

 

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South Dakota

- Estimated voting-age population: 635,405
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Nov. 2, 2020 by 5:00 p.m. we suggest requesting your ballot as soon as possible to allow time to process
--- Deadline to submit ballot: received at your precinct before polls close on Nov. 3, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: yes
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

All registered voters in South Dakota can request a mail-in ballot. Absentee ballot applications were sent to every registered voter in the June 2020 primaries, helping to fuel a surge in absentee voting: Nearly five times as many voters mailed in their ballots in the primary than in the 2016 presidential election.

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Tennessee

- Estimated voting-age population: 4,964,909
- State mail-in voting status: voters need an “excuse” to request vote by mail ballot (“excuse required”)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 27, 2020
--- Deadline to submit ballot: received by close of polls on Nov. 3, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: yes

Tennessee typically only allows mail-in voting for the elderly and sick, but in June 2020 a Nashville judge ruled that the state must allow registered voters at least the option to vote by mail due to the pandemic. Now all 4,964,909 potential voters in Tennessee can ask for a mail-in ballot to avoid the risks of in-person voting in the 2020 elections. The U.S. Postal Service has already warned that it may struggle to deliver all the absentee ballots in the state, due to high demand and the Trump-appointed postmaster implementing cuts that are causing delays.

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Texas

- Estimated voting-age population: 17,859,496
- State mail-in voting status: voters need an “excuse” to request vote by mail ballot (“excuse required”)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 23, 2020
--- Deadline to submit ballot: postmarked by 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020 and received by 5:00 p.m. Nov. 4, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Texas voters must have an excuse to request an absentee ballot. Despite the state’s inability to control the coronavirus—evidenced by overall high caseloads, surging numbers in some counties, and a death toll approaching 10,000—no exceptions have been made for the potential 17,859,496 people of voting age in Texas during the global pandemic.

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Utah

- Estimated voting-age population: 1,982,911
- State mail-in voting status: vote by mail is the default (all voters are mailed a ballot)
--- Deadline to request ballot: not applicable
--- Deadline to submit ballot: postmarked by Nov. 2, 2020, returned at a drop box: 8:00 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: yes

Utah sends absentee ballots to all registered voters automatically but also allows voters to vote in-person. Utah tends to vote Republican and has a large voter turnout due to the mail-in ballot option.

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Vermont

- Estimated voting-age population: 494,674
- State mail-in voting status: vote by mail is the default (all voters are mailed a ballot)
--- Deadline to request ballot: not applicable
--- Deadline to submit ballot: received by your town clerk’s office by close of business Nov. 2, 2020, or at your polling place by 7:00 on Nov. 3, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Vermont allows all of its potential 494,674 voters to request a mail-in ballot. Vermont is also in the process of sending all voters an absentee ballot for the 2020 presidential election.

 

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Virginia

- Estimated voting-age population: 6,096,244
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 23, 2020 by 5 p.m. (via online, fax, or mail); Oct. 31, 2020 (in person)
--- Deadline to submit ballot: postmarked by 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020 and received by Nov. 6, 2020 at 12 p.m.
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

The state of Virginia passed a law in July 2020 allowing anyone to request an absentee ballot without declaring a reason. Requests are surging ahead of the November election. There are approximately 6,096,244 citizens of voting age in the state.

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Washington

- Estimated voting-age population: 5,173,974
- State mail-in voting status: vote by mail is the default (all voters are mailed a ballot)
--- Deadline to request ballot: not applicable
--- Deadline to submit ballot: submitted to a ballot drop box by 8:00 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020 or be sure it is postmarked by Nov. 3, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: yes
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

All registered voters in Washington automatically receive a mail-in ballot. Voting by mail has been a statewide practice since 2011 in Washington, one of the few states to conduct elections that way.

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Washington D.C.

- Estimated voting-age population: 511,190
- State mail-in voting status: vote by mail is the default (all voters are mailed a ballot)
--- Deadline to request ballot: not applicable
--- Deadline to submit ballot: postmarked by Nov. 3, 2020 and received within 7 days
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Voters in Washington D.C. can request an absentee ballot without an excuse. Delays in issuing mail-in ballots led to congestion at voting booths at the June 2 primaries.

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West Virginia

- Estimated voting-age population: 1,442,035
- State mail-in voting status: temporarily allowing vote by mail options due to the COVID-19 crisis
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 28, 2020
--- Deadline to submit ballot: postmarked by Nov. 3, 2020 and received by Nov. 9, 2020 (by mail); Nov. 2, 2020 (in person)
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

West Virginia amended its voting law to allow anyone to vote by absentee ballot in the 2020 presidential election. Usually, the 1,442,035 potential voters in West Virginia must provide an excuse to obtain an absentee ballot. And while the state sent registered voters absentee ballot applications for its primary in June, for the November election residents must request their ballot online or through the county clerk.

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Wisconsin

- Estimated voting-age population: 4,347,413
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Oct. 29, 2020 by 5:00 p.m.
--- Deadline to submit ballot: received by 8:00 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: yes
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: yes

In May of 2020, Wisconsin decided to send registered voters absentee ballot applications (not actual ballots). Despite opposition to mail-in voting from Republicans in the state, 80% of legislators in the party voted via mail-in ballot in April. In Wisconsin’s April primary, 14,000 absentee ballots were rejected because they didn’t have a notary or witness signatures.

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Wyoming

- Estimated voting-age population: 432,284
- State mail-in voting status: any voter can request a vote by mail ballot (no excuse required)
--- Deadline to request ballot: Nov. 2, 2020
--- Deadline to submit ballot: received in person or by mail by 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020
--- Witness signature required to complete ballot: no
--- Notary (or two witness signatures) required to complete ballot: no
--- Copy of photo ID required to complete or receive ballot: no

Voters in Wyoming do not need an excuse to vote absentee. Wyoming Public Media on July 13 cautioned readers of the potential for such votes to go uncounted because of forms being improperly filled out or coming in late.

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