Vote By Mail

VOTE BY MAILLessLess

VOTE BY MAILLess

What is the safest way to vote this November? From home.

What is the safest way to vote this November? From home.

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Voting by mail can be done by what’s called an absentee ballot or mail-in ballot.

Voting by mail can be done by what’s called an absentee ballot or mail-in ballot.

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What is Absentee Voting?

What is Absentee Voting?

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An absentee ballot is a ballot used to cast an absentee vote, which is submitted, usually by mail, by an absentee. “Absentee” refers to a person who can’t physically be present at a voting center on Election Day. Absentee voting AKA “mail-in voting” AKA “mail-in ballot” AKA “by-mail voting” AKA “advanced ballots” AKA “ballots by mail” AKA “mail ballot” AKA “mailed ballot” are conducted by mail-in ballot before the day of Election Day. Every US state allows mail-in, absentee voting, but typically only under certain circumstances. For example, in past election cycles, many states only allowed an individual to get an absentee ballot if you:

An absentee ballot is a ballot used to cast an absentee vote, which is submitted, usually by mail, by an absentee. “Absentee” refers to a person who can’t physically be present at a voting center on Election Day. Absentee voting AKA “mail-in voting” AKA “mail-in ballot” AKA “by-mail voting” AKA “advanced ballots” AKA “ballots by mail” AKA “mail ballot” AKA “mailed ballot” are conducted by mail-in ballot before the day of Election Day. Every US state allows mail-in, absentee voting, but typically only under certain circumstances. For example, in past election cycles, many states only allowed an individual to get an absentee ballot if you:

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- were deployed with the US armed forces

- students living outside of the country,

- will be out of town or the country on Election Day

- have an illness or disability  

- working or being on jury duty during voting hours

- serving as an election worker or poll watcher  

- have religious beliefs or practices that prevent them from going to a voting center  

- in prison but still able to vote

- were deployed with the US armed forces

- students living outside of the country,

- will be out of town or the country on Election Day

- have an illness or disability  

- working or being on jury duty during voting hours

- serving as an election worker or poll watcher  

- have religious beliefs or practices that prevent them from going to a voting center  

- in prison but still able to vote

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Some states prefer to call it “mail-in voting” rather than “absentee voting,” because voters will be mailed a ballot regardless of whether they’re in town or “absent” from their polling precinct on Election Day. Even though these ballots are mailed to voters, voters can choose to return them in person. Depending on the state, a voter who receives an absentee ballot in the mail can return it by putting it in a mailbox, dropping it in a secure ballot drop-off box or dropping it off at their local elections office. Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Utah, and Hawaii—already conduct their elections through a mail-in process that’s often referred to as “all-mail voting”.

Some states prefer to call it “mail-in voting” rather than “absentee voting,” because voters will be mailed a ballot regardless of whether they’re in town or “absent” from their polling precinct on Election Day. Even though these ballots are mailed to voters, voters can choose to return them in person. Depending on the state, a voter who receives an absentee ballot in the mail can return it by putting it in a mailbox, dropping it in a secure ballot drop-off box or dropping it off at their local elections office. Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Utah, and Hawaii—already conduct their elections through a mail-in process that’s often referred to as “all-mail voting”.

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Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, at least 35 states have changed their mail-in absentee voting policies, allowing all voters to apply for an absentee ballot to cut down on the risk of spreading the virus.

Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, at least 35 states have changed their mail-in absentee voting policies, allowing all voters to apply for an absentee ballot to cut down on the risk of spreading the virus.

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Seventeen states require voters to provide an excuse for voting by absentee ballot.

Seventeen states require voters to provide an excuse for voting by absentee ballot.

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Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia offer no-excuse absentee voting.

Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia offer no-excuse absentee voting.

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Five states have elections that are held by mail-in ballot.

Five states have elections that are held by mail-in ballot.

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REMEMBER you must be registered to vote before you're eligible to get an absentee ballot. To get an absentee ballot, a registered voter must request one through their state government, which accepts or rejects the application. When someone is approved to vote absentee, election officials mail the voter an absentee ballot, which they complete and sign, and return by mail or, under certain circumstances, fax. Officials can reject absentee ballots if they are improperly filled out, and voters face steep penalties if they falsify any information. Make sure you read the directions on your ballot carefully and fill it out correctly!

REMEMBER you must be registered to vote before you're eligible to get an absentee ballot. To get an absentee ballot, a registered voter must request one through their state government, which accepts or rejects the application. When someone is approved to vote absentee, election officials mail the voter an absentee ballot, which they complete and sign, and return by mail or, under certain circumstances, fax. Officials can reject absentee ballots if they are improperly filled out, and voters face steep penalties if they falsify any information. Make sure you read the directions on your ballot carefully and fill it out correctly!

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Absentee ballot vs. mail-in ballot

Absentee ballot vs. mail-in ballot

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So, all absentee ballots are sent through the mail but not all ballots sent through the mail are absentee ballots. An absentee ballot is generally used in every state to refer to a ballot filled out by a voter who cannot, for various reasons, physically make it to a voting location on Election Day. A mail-in ballot is used more broadly to refer to ballots sent through the mail, including in all-mail voting states and some forms of absentee voting.

So, all absentee ballots are sent through the mail but not all ballots sent through the mail are absentee ballots. An absentee ballot is generally used in every state to refer to a ballot filled out by a voter who cannot, for various reasons, physically make it to a voting location on Election Day. A mail-in ballot is used more broadly to refer to ballots sent through the mail, including in all-mail voting states and some forms of absentee voting.

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Find out what you need to do to vote by mail in your state

Find out what you need to do to vote by mail in your state

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VOCABULARY BOX
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VOCABULARY BOX

 “ballot” 
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 “ballot” 

 A “ballot” is the physical form (or electronic voting machine equivalent) that a voter fills out; it lists the candidates, issues, and so on that a person votes on.

 A “ballot” is the physical form (or electronic voting machine equivalent) that a voter fills out; it lists the candidates, issues, and so on that a person votes on.

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"No-Excuse Absentee Voting"
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"No-Excuse Absentee Voting"
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"No-Excuse Absentee Voting," a term that indicates you don't need to explain why you want an absentee ballot as you have in the past -- but you'll still need to fill out an application and request one, either online or through mail. 

"No-Excuse Absentee Voting," a term that indicates you don't need to explain why you want an absentee ballot as you have in the past -- but you'll still need to fill out an application and request one, either online or through mail. 

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“In-person voting”
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“In-person voting”

"In-Person Voting" is the act of going to a local polling location to cast a vote in person on Election Day or before. 

"In-Person Voting" is the act of going to a local polling location to cast a vote in person on Election Day or before. 

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"Early Voting"
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"Early Voting"

Most states allow qualified voters to cast a ballot in person during a designated time before Election Day. Early voting could begin as early as 45 days before an election, or as late as the week before. The goal is usually to increase voter turnout and decrease congestion at the polls on Election Day. 

Most states allow qualified voters to cast a ballot in person during a designated time before Election Day. Early voting could begin as early as 45 days before an election, or as late as the week before. The goal is usually to increase voter turnout and decrease congestion at the polls on Election Day. 

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