Absentee Voting Rules

Last updated June 16, 2014
Military and Overseas voters should visit the Overseas Vote Foundation. Long Distance Voter's information should only be used by voters with US mailing addresses.

What is Absentee Voting?

Absentee voting (aka "mail-in voting" and "by-mail voting") is conducted by mail-in ballot before the day of the election.  All states will mail a ballot to voters if certain conditions are met.  The voter may return the ballot in person or by mail.  Some states will let voters apply for an absentee ballot in person before the election and then vote the ballot that same day.  

Twenty one states require voters to provide an excuse for voting by absentee ballot.  Twenty seven states and the District of Columbia offer no-excuse absentee voting.

ALABAMA

You may vote by absentee ballot if:

  • you will be absent from the county on election day
  • you are ill or have a physical disability that prevents a trip to the polling place
  • you are a registered Alabama voter who is temporarily living outside the county (such as a member of the armed forces, a voter employed outside of the United States, a college student, or a spouse or child of such a person)
  • you are an appointed election officer or poll watcher at a polling place other than your regular polling place
  • you work a required shift - 10 hours or more - that coincides with polling hours

Our Alabama Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

ALASKA

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.

Our Alaska Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

ARIZONA

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.

Our Arizona Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

ARKANSAS

You may vote by absentee ballot if:

  • you will be unavoidably absent from your polling site on election day
  • you will be unable to attend your polling site on election day due to illness or physical disability
  • you are a member of the U.S. armed forces, merchant marines or the spouse or a dependent family member
  • you are a U.S. citizen whose permanent residence is in Arkansas but who is temporarily living outside the United States

Our Arkansas Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

CALIFORNIA

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.  California also offers the option of permanent absentee status to any registered voter.  If you choose this option, the State of California will mail an absentee ballot to you for every election.

Our California Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

COLORADO

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.

Our Colorado Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

CONNECTICUT

You may vote by absentee ballot if:

  • You will be absent from town during all the hours of voting
  • You are ill
  • You have a physical disability which makes it difficult for you to get to the polls
  • Your religious tenets forbid secular (non-religious) activity on election day
  • Your required performance of duties as a primary, referendum, or election official at a polling place other than your own during all the hours on election day

First-time voters: You MUST submit a copy of your ID with your absentee ballot.  

  • a copy of a current and valid photo identification OR
  • a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and address.

Our Connecticut Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

DELAWARE

You may vote by absentee ballot if:

  • Your business or occupation prevents you from coming to the polls (this includes students)
  • You are on vacation
  • The tenets or teachings of your religion prevent you from coming to the polls
  • You are experiencing a temporary or permanent physical disability
  • You are in the public service of the United States or the State of Delaware and are unable to come to the polls

Our Delaware Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.

Our District of Columbia Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

FLORIDA

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot. 

Our Florida Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

GEORGIA

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.

Our Georgia Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

HAWAII

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.

Our Hawaii Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

IDAHO

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.

Our Idaho Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

ILLINOIS

Any properly registered Illinois voters may vote by absentee ballot. 

Our Illinois Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

INDIANA

You may vote by absentee ballot if:

  • You have a specific, reasonable expectation that you will be absent from the county on Election Day during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open (6 am until 6 pm).
  • You have a disability.
  • You are at least 65 years of age.
  • You will have official election duties outside of your voting precinct.
  • You are scheduled to work at your regular place of employment during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open.
  • You will be confined due to illness or injury or you will be caring for an individual confined due to illness or injury during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open.
  • You are prevented from voting because of a religious discipline or religious holiday during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open.
  • You are a participant in the state's address confidentiality program.
  • You are a member of the military or a public safety officer.

To vote absentee-by-traveling board (meaning your ballot is delivered to you by a bi-partisan absentee voter board who will be able to assist you with your ballot), one of the following must apply:

  • You expect to be confined, due to illness or injury, or you expect to be caring for a confined person at a private residence, on Election Day.
  • You are a voter with disabilities and believes your polling place is not accessible to you.

Our Indiana Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

IOWA

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.  

Our Iowa Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

KANSAS

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.

Our Kansas Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

KENTUCKY

You may vote by absentee ballot if:  

  • advanced in age, Disabled, or Ill;
  • military personnel or their dependent, or an overseas citizen;
  • a student who temporarily resides outside the county;
  • a voter who temporarily resides outside of Kentucky and who maintains eligibility to vote in Kentucky, such as a "snowbird";
  • incarcerated, but not yet convicted of a crime; or
  • employed outside of the county all hours the polling place is open.

If you change your place of residence to a different state while the registration books are closed in the new state, you can apply for a mail-in absentee ballot or vote on the absentee voting machine only in President/Vice President election.

You can apply for a medical emergency absentee ballot if a medical emergency occurs within 14 days before an election. The spouse of the voter can also apply for a paper absentee ballot.

Our Kentucky Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

LOUISIANA

NOTE TO FIRST-TIME LOUISIANA VOTERS: If you registered to vote by mail, you must vote in person the first time you vote. Exceptions to the first-time rule are:

  • military or overseas citizens;
  • persons in the Senior Citizen or Disability Program;
  • students, who submit a copy of student ID or fee bill with the request;
  • citizens who appear in the registrar of voters office before the election to verify identity; and
  • participants in the state's address confidentiality program.

You may vote by absentee ballot if:

  • you are a student or teacher located and living outside of your parish of registration, or the spouse/dependent thereof;
  • you are a minister, priest, rabbi, or other member of the clergy assigned outside of your parish of registration, or the spouse/dependent thereof;
  • you are or expect to be temporarily outside the territorial limits of the state or absent from your parish of registration during the early voting period and on election day (view early voting dates);
  • you moved your residence to another parish more than 100 miles from the parish seat of your former residence after the voter registration books closed (the books close 30 days prior to an election);
  • you are involuntarily confined in an institution for mental treatment outside your parish of registration and you are not interdicted and not judicially declared incompetent;
  • you expect to be hospitalized on election day and did not have knowledge until after the time for early voting had expired; or you were hospitalized during the time for early voting and you expect to be hospitalized on election day; or you were either hospitalized or restricted to bed by your physician during early voting and on election day (view early voting dates);
  • you expect to be out of your precinct of registration and upon the waters of the state both during the early voting period and on election day because of your employment or occupation (view early voting dates);
  • you are incarcerated in an institution inside or outside of your parish of registration and you are not serving time for a felony conviction;
  • you are a program participant in the Department of State's Address Confidentiality Program; or
  • you will be sequestered on the day of the election.

Your request for an absentee ballot will be rejected if:

  • Your request for an absentee ballot was received too early; the earliest a request for an absentee ballot can be accepted is 60 days prior to the election.
  • Your request for an absentee ballot was received too late; the request deadline is four days before election day.
  • You requested an absentee ballot from a parish or district/precinct where you are not registered to vote.
  • You registered after the voter registration books were closed 30 days prior to election day.
  • Your request for an absentee ballot was incomplete.

Our Louisiana Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

MAINE

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.  

Our Maine Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

MARYLAND

You may vote by absentee ballot if are unable to vote in person on election day.  

Our Maryland Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

MASSACHUSETTS

You may vote by absentee ballot if:

  • you will be absent from your city or town on election day, and/or
  • you have a physical disability that prevents your voting at the polling place, and/or
  • you cannot vote at the polls due to religious beliefs and/or
  • you are confined in a correctional facility or jail (but NOT on a felony charge)

Generally, a voter must be registered in order to vote absentee, though several exceptions exist: Those outside of Massachusetts, prisoners, and members of the armed forces or merchant marine, or their spouses or dependents, do not need to be registered in order to vote absentee.  

Our Massachusetts Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

MICHIGAN

You may vote by absentee ballot if: 

  • you are 60 years old or older
  • you are unable to vote without assistance at the polls
  • you are expecting to be out of town on election day
  • you are in jail awaiting arraignment or trial
  • you are unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons
  • you are appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.  

First-time Michigan voters who register by mail MUST vote in person the first time they vote. This restriction does not apply to overseas voters, voters who are handicapped or voters who are 60 years of age or older.  You can, however, get around this rule by requesting your absentee ballot in person from your County Clerk.  You have until the day before the election to request your absentee ballot in person. 

Our Michigan Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

MINNESOTA

Any registered voter may now vote by absentee ballot.

Our Minnesota Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

MISSISSIPPI

If you are a citizen of Mississippi and a registered voter you may vote absentee if you meet one of the following conditions:

  • you will be away from your county on election day for any reason;
  • you are a student, teacher or administrator at a school whose studies or employment there necessitates your absence from your county on election day; or you are the spouse or dependent thereof;
  • you have a temporary or permanent physical disability that renders you unable to vote in person without substantial hardship;
  • you are the parent, spouse or dependent of a person with a temporary or permanent physical disability who is hospitalized outside of their county of residence or more than fifty (50) miles away, and you (the parent, spouse or dependent) will be with that person on election day;
  • you are sixty-five (65) years of age or older;
  • you will be unable to vote in person because you are required to be at work on election day during the times at which the polls will be open.

Our Mississippi Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

MISSOURI

You can vote by absentee ballot if you: 

  • Will be absent from your voting jurisdiction on election day
  • Are incapacitated or confined due to illness or physical disability, or caring for an incapacitated person
  • Are restricted by religious belief or practice
  • Are employed by an election authority
  • Are incarcerated, but have retained all your voting qualifications 

Our Missouri Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

MONTANA

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.  

Our Montana Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

NEBRASKA

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.

Our Nebraska Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

NEVADA

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.  First-time voters who registered to vote by mail but did not provide ID when registering must provide a copy of acceptable ID with their absentee ballot applications.  

Our Nevada Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

You may vote by absentee ballot if:

  • you will be absent on the day of any state election from the county, city, or town in which you are registered to vote
  • you are unable appear in public on election day because of your observance of a religious commitment
  • you are unable to vote in person by reason of physical disability
  • you are unable to vote in person by reason of military service
  • you are unable to appear at any time during polling hours at your polling place because an employment obligation requires you to remain physically at work or to be in transit to or from work from the time the polls open until after the time the polls close

Our New Hampshire Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

NEW JERSEY

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.  

Our New Jersey Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

NEW MEXICO

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.

Our New Mexico Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

NEW YORK

You may vote by absentee ballot if:

  • you are unavoidably absent from your county on election day
  • you are unable to appear at the polls due to illness or disability
  • you are a patient in a Veterans’ Administration Hospital
  • you are detained in jail awaiting Grand Jury action or confined in prison after conviction for an offense other than a felony

Our New York Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

NORTH CAROLINA

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.

Our North Carolina Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

NORTH DAKOTA

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot. 

Our North Dakota Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

OHIO

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.

Our Ohio Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

OKLAHOMA

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.

Our Oklahoma Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

OREGON

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.

Our Oregon Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

PENNSYLVANIA

You may vote for absentee ballot if: 

  • you are in the military service of the United States (military voters do not need to be registered to vote to vote by absentee ballot, and they do not need to be overseas or even outside of Pennsylvania)
  • you are a spouse or dependent of someone in the military, and you expect expect on election day to be absent from the Commonwealth or the municipality of residence during the entire period in which the polling places are open for voting (7:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M).
  • you are a member of the Merchant Marine (or a spouse or dependent) and you expect on election day to be absent from the Commonwealth or the municipality of residence during the entire period in which the polling places are open for voting (7:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M).
  • you are a member of a religious or welfare group attached to and serving with the armed forces (or a spouse or dependent) and you expect on election day to be absent from the Commonwealth or the municipality of residence during the entire period in which the polling places are open for voting (7:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M).
  • you expect that your occupation or duties (including leaves of absence for teaching, vacations, and sabbatical leaves) will cause you to be away from your municipality on election day.  This also applies to spouses and dependents.  
  • you are a war veteran who is bedridden or hospitalized due to illness or physical disability and therefore unable to vote in person (note: people who fall in this group can vote by absentee ballot even if they are not already registered).  
  • you are ill or physically disabled and therefore unable to go to a polling place or operate a voting machine.  
  • you are employed by the Commonwealth or the Federal Government and your duties require you to be absent from the Commonwealth or the municipality of your residence on election day. This also applies to spouses and dependents.  
  • you are employed by the county and you expect that your election day duties will prevent you from voting.  
  • you will be observing a religious holiday and will be unable to vote.  

Permanent absentee voting: A disabled elector may be placed on a permanently disabled absentee file.

Our Pennsylvania Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

RHODE ISLAND

You may vote absentee in Rhode Island for one of the following reasons:

  • you believe you will not be able to vote at your polling place on the day of the election;
  • you are incapacitated to such an extent that it would be an undue hardship to vote at the polls because of illness, mental or physical disability, blindness or a serious impairment of mobility;
  • you are confined in a hospital, convalescent home, nursinghome, rest home, or similar institution within the State of Rhode Island;
  • you are employed or in service intimately connected with military operations or because I am a spouse or dependent of such person, OR you are a United States citizen who will be outside the United States.

Our Rhode Island Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

SOUTH CAROLINA

You may vote by absentee ballot if:  

  • you are a student away at college (or a spouse or dependent residing with the student)
  • you are a member of the Armed Forces, Merchant Marines, Red Cross, USO, government employees (or a spouse or dependent residing with such a person) 
  • you live overseas 
  • your job prevents you from voting in person 
  • you are physically disabled 
  • you are away on vacation 
  • you are 65 or older
  • you have been admitted to the hospital as an emergency patient on day of election or at least four days prior to the election
  • there has been a death or funeral in your family within 3 days before the election
  • you are confined to a jail or pre-trial facility pending disposition of arrest or trial
  • you are attending sick or physically disabled persons
  • you are on jury duty in state or federal court on election day 
  • you are a certified poll watcher, poll manager, or county elecion official and you will be working on election day

Our South Carolina Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot. 

Our South Dakota Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

TENNESSEE

You may vote by absentee ballot if:  

  • you will be outside the county of registration during the early voting period and all day on election day;
  • you or your spouse are enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited college or university outside the county of registration;
  • a licensed physician has filed a statement with the county election commission stating that, in the physician's judgment, you are medically unable to vote in person. The statement must be filed not less than five (5) days before the election and signed under the penalty of perjury;
  • you reside in a licensed facility providing relatively permanent domiciliary care, other than a penal institution, outside the voter's county of residence;
  • you will be unable to vote in person due to service as a juror for a federal or state court;
  • you are sixty (60) years of age or older;
  • you have a physical disability and an inaccessible polling place;
  • you are hospitalized, ill, or physically disabled and because of such condition, cannot vote in person;
  • you are the caretaker of a person who is hospitalized, ill, or disabled;
  • you are a candidate for office in the election;
  • you serve as an election day official or as a member or employee of the election commission;
  • you will be observing a religious holiday which prevents you from voting in person during the early voting period and on election day;
  • you possess a valid commercial driver license and you certify that you will be working outside the state or county of registration during the early voting period and all day on election day;
  • you are a member of the military or is an overseas citizen.

First-time Voters: If you register to vote by mail - and you are not on the permanent absentee ballot list - then you must vote in person the first time you vote. If you registered to vote by mail and you have already voted in person at least once, then you may vote by absentee ballot.

Our Tennessee Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

TEXAS

You may vote by absentee ballot if:  

  • be 65 years or older;
  • be disabled;
  • be out of the county on election day and during the period for early voting by personal appearance; or
  • be confined in jail, but otherwise eligible.

Our Texas Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

UTAH

Any registered voter can vote by absentee ballot.

Our Utah Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

VERMONT

Any registered voter can vote by absentee ballot.

Our Vermont Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

VIRGINIA

If you to have a Virginia driver’s license or ID issued by the Virginia DMV, you can now register to vote using Virginia's online voter registration.

First-time voters who registered by mail: New registrants who submitted their voter registration applications by mail must vote in person (either in-person absentee or at the polls on election day) unless the voter is a full time college student, absent active duty military, residing overseas, physically handicapped, voting a "presidential only" ballot if you move from Virginia less than 30 days before a presidential election, or age 65 or over (however, they must also list a qualifying reason for voting absentee, as age itself does not qualify a voter for an absentee ballot).

You may vote by absentee ballot if you meet one of the following conditions:

  • you are a student (or the spouse of a student) attending college or university outside of your Virginia locality
  • you have business outside your county/city of residence on election day
  • you have personal business or vacation outside county/city of residence on election day
  • you are working and commuting to/from home for 11 or more hours between 6am and 7pm on election day
  • you are a first responder (member of law enforcement, fire fighter, emergency technician, search and rescue)
  • you have a disability or illness
  • you are primarily and personally responsible for the care of a disabled/ill family member confined at home
  • you are pregnant
  • you are confined, and awaiting trial, or convicted of a misdemeanor
  • you are an electoral board member, registrar, officer of election, or custodian of voting equipment
  • you have a religious obligation that prevents you from voting on election day
  • you are an active duty member of the Armed Forces or Merchant Marine (or the spouse of an active duty member)
  • you are temporarily residing outside of US
  • you moved to another state less than 30 days before a presidential election (you will only receive a ballot for the presidential/vice-presidential election; ballots for other offices/issues will not be sent)
  • you are an authorized representative of candidate or party serving inside the polling place

Our Virginia Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

WASHINGTON

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.

Our Washington Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

WEST VIRGINIA

In West Virginia, you may vote by absentee ballot for any of the following reasons:

  • you will be on personal or business travel during both the early voting period and election day;
  • you are attending a college, university or other place of education or training;
  • you are ill, or have an injury or other medical reason that keeps you confined;
  • you are incapacitated due to advanced age or a physical disability;
  • you are incarcerated or detained in jail or a home, but m not under conviction of any felony, of treason or of bribery in an election (including any period of probation or parole);
  • you employment makes voting in person impossible because of the hours worked and distance from the county seat;
  • you are a participant in the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) with the Office of the Secretary of State;
  • the county absentee voting office and your polling place are inaccessible to to you due to your physical disability.

Emergency absentee voting: is available when a person is suddenly hospitalized or unexpectedly admitted to a nursing home within the county, or in some cases, in an adjacent county.  The provisions only apply when it is too late to get a ballot by mail.

Permanent absentee voting: If you are permanently disabled and are permanently unable to go to the polls, you may apply to be placed on the permanent absentee voting list to vote by mail. A doctor's statement must be filed with your application, but once approved, the clerk will automatically send you an absentee ballot before each election.

Our West Virginia Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

WISCONSIN

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.

Our Wisconsin Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

WYOMING

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot.

Our Wyoming Absentee Voter Guide has everything you need to get your absentee ballot.

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