How to Vote by Mail and Make Sure It Counts

The FBI confirmed as much on Wednesday. “We have not seen, to date, a coordinated national voter fraud effort during a major election,” a senior Federal Bureau of Investigation official said in a call with reporters. “It would be extraordinarily difficult to change a federal election outcome through this type of fraud alone.”

How to Get Started

OK, so how do you do it? If you live in Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Utah, you’ve already had almost total mail voting in previous elections, so just proceed as usual. But the first step is always to make sure you’re registered to vote. You can check your current status and find your state’s directions at Vote.gov. Once you’re registered, you’ll need to request a mail ballot if your state isn’t going to send you one automatically, fill it out when it arrives, and return it with as much time left as possible before Election Day. You can find all the state-by-state details below.

In most states you can also return your ballot in person, either at municipal offices like your county clerk’s office or to secure drop boxes set up specifically for this purpose in your area. You can also return your ballot to a polling place on Election Day in many states. If you want to go that route, find your state’s election website here for details.

Otherwise, the specifics of mail voting in every state are below. But first a quick note about who can and can’t vote in presidential elections. People born in and living in Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, or the Northern Mariana Islands are US citizens or US nationals and can vote in congressional elections and presidential primaries, but can’t vote in presidential elections. In many states people who have been convicted of a felony can’t vote for a period of time or indefinitely. Intellectual disabilities can also impact voting rights in different states. All other US citizens who are 18 or older can vote, even if they’re homeless (though this can be challenging in practice).

Now scroll to your home state for specific details. Happy voting!

Alabama

Deadline to register: October 19
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 29
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: November 2
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day, 12pm
Ballot Tracking: Yes

Alaska

Deadline to register: October 4
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 24
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: November 3, Election Day
Ballot must be received by: November 13
Ballot Tracking: Yes

Arizona

Deadline to register: October 5
Request a ballot: Sent automatically
Deadline to request ballot: N/A
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: Yes

Arkansas

Deadline to register: October 5
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 27
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: Yes

California

Deadline to register: October 19
Request a ballot: Sent automatically
Deadline to request ballot: N/A
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: November 3, Election Day
Ballot must be received by: November 20
Ballot Tracking: Yes
Notes: Register in person on Election Day

Colorado

Deadline to register: October 26
Request a ballot: Sent automatically
Deadline to request ballot: N/A
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: Yes
Notes: Register in person on Election Day

Connecticut

Deadline to register: October 27
Request a ballot: Sent automatically
Deadline to request ballot: N/A
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: No
Notes: Register in person on Election Day

Delaware

Deadline to register: October 10
Request a ballot: Sent automatically
Deadline to request ballot: N/A
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: Yes

District of Columbia

Deadline to register: October 13
Request a ballot: Sent automatically
Deadline to request ballot: N/A
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: November 3, Election Day
Ballot must be received by: November 10
Ballot Tracking: Yes
Notes: Register in person on Election Day

Florida

Deadline to register: October 5
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 24
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: Yes

Georgia

Deadline to register: October 5
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 30
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: Yes

Hawaii

Deadline to register: October 5
Request a ballot: Sent automatically
Deadline to request ballot: N/A
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: No
Notes: Register in person on Election Day

Idaho

Deadline to register: October 9
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 23
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: Yes
Notes: Register in person on Election Day

Illinois

Deadline to register: October 18
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 29
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: November 3, Election Day
Ballot must be received by: November 17
Ballot Tracking: No
Notes: Register in person on Election Day

Indiana

Deadline to register: October 5
Request a ballot: Here (Automatic PDF download)
Deadline to request ballot: October 22
Excuse Needed: Yes
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: No

Iowa

Deadline to register: October 24
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 24
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: November 2
Ballot must be received by: November 9
Ballot Tracking: Yes
Notes: Register in person on Election Day

Kansas

Deadline to register: October 13
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 27
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: November 3, Election Day
Ballot must be received by: November 6
Ballot Tracking: Yes

Kentucky

Deadline to register: October 5
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 27
Excuse Needed: Yes
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: Yes

Louisiana

Deadline to register: October 14
Request a ballot: Here or here
Deadline to request ballot: October 30
Excuse Needed: Yes
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: Yes

Maine

Deadline to register: October 13
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 29
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: No
Notes: Register in person on Election Day

Maryland

Deadline to register: October 13
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 20
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: November 3, Election Day
Ballot must be received by: November 13
Ballot Tracking: Yes
Notes: Register in person on Election Day

Massachussetts

Deadline to register: October 24
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 30
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: November 3, Election Day
Ballot must be received by: November 6
Ballot Tracking: Yes

Michigan

Deadline to register: October 19
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 30
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: Yes
Notes: Register in person on Election Day

Minnesota

Deadline to register: October 13
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: November 2
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: November 3, Election Day
Ballot must be received by: November 10
Ballot Tracking: Yes
Notes: Register in person on Election Day

Mississippi

Deadline to register: October 5
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: November 2
Excuse Needed: Yes
Deadline to postmark: November 3, Election Day
Ballot must be received by: November 8
Ballot Tracking: No

Missouri

Deadline to register: October 7
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 21
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: No

Montana

Deadline to register: October 5
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: Varies by county
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: Yes
Notes: Register in person on Election Day

Nebraska

Deadline to register: October 16
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 23
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: Yes
Notes: Register in person until October 23

Nevada

Deadline to register: October 6
Request a ballot: Sent automatically
Deadline to request ballot: Sent automatically
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: November 3, Election Day
Ballot must be received by: November 10
Ballot Tracking: Yes
Notes: Register online through October 29. In person registration available on Election Day

New Hampshire

Deadline to register: October 21
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: November 2
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: Yes
Notes: Register in person on Election Day

New Jersey

Deadline to register: October 13
Request a ballot: Sent automatically
Deadline to request ballot: N/A
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: November 3, Election Day
Ballot must be received by: November 10
Ballot Tracking: Yes

New Mexico

Deadline to register: October 6
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 30
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: No
Notes: Register in person through October 31

New York

Deadline to register: October 9
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 27
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: November 3, Election Day
Ballot must be received by: November 10
Ballot Tracking: No
Notes: Request an absentee ballot in person until November 2

North Carolina

Deadline to register: October 9
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 27
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: November 3, Election Day
Ballot must be received by: November 6
Ballot Tracking: Yes

North Dakota

Deadline to register: Not required
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: Varies by county
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: November 2
Ballot must be received by: November 9
Ballot Tracking: Yes

Ohio

Deadline to register: October 5
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 31
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: November 2
Ballot must be received by: November 13
Ballot Tracking: Yes

Oklahoma

Deadline to register: October 9
Request a ballot: Here or here
Deadline to request ballot: October 27
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: October 27
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: Yes

Oregon

Deadline to register: October 13
Request a ballot: Sent automatically
Deadline to request ballot: N/A
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: Yes

Pennsylvania

Deadline to register: October 19
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 27
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: Yes

Rhode Island

Deadline to register: October 3
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 14
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: Yes
Notes: Register online or in person through October 4

South Carolina

Deadline to register: October 5
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 30
Excuse Needed: Yes
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: Yes
Notes: Register in person through October 2 or online through October 4

South Dakota

Deadline to register: October 19
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: November 2
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 2
Ballot Tracking: Yes

Tennessee

Deadline to register: October 5
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 27
Excuse Needed: Yes
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: Yes

Texas

Deadline to register: October 5
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 23
Excuse Needed: Yes
Deadline to postmark: November 3, Election Day
Ballot must be received by: November 4
Ballot Tracking: Yes

Utah

Deadline to register: October 5
Request a ballot: Sent automatically
Deadline to request ballot: N/A
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: November 2
Ballot must be received by: November 9
Ballot Tracking: Yes
Notes: Register online through October 23 or in person on Election Day

Vermont

Deadline to register: November 3, Election Day
Request a ballot: Sent automatically
Deadline to request ballot: N/A
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 2
Ballot Tracking: Yes
Notes: Register in person on Election Day

Virginia

Deadline to register: October 13
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 23 by mail and online, October 31 in person
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: November 3, Election Day
Ballot must be received by: November 6
Ballot Tracking: Yes

Washington

Deadline to register: October 26
Request a ballot: Sent automatically
Deadline to request ballot: N/A
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: November 3, Election Day
Ballot must be received by: No deadline
Ballot Tracking: Yes
Notes: Register in person through Election Day

West Virginia

Deadline to register: October 13
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 28
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: November 3, Election Day
Ballot must be received by: November 9
Ballot Tracking: Yes

Wisconsin

Deadline to register: October 14
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: October 29
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 3, Election Day
Ballot Tracking: Yes
Notes: Register in person on Election Day

Wyoming

Deadline to register: October 20
Request a ballot: Here
Deadline to request ballot: November 2
Excuse Needed: No
Deadline to postmark: N/A
Ballot must be received by: November 2
Ballot Tracking: Yes
Notes: Register in person on Election Day


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