The 2020 election is turning into one of the most anticipated elections in history but the pandemic situation is causing concern for people. Eligible voters across the country are worried for their safety and the health risks of standing in line at polling places when Election Day (Tuesday, November 3) is finally here. To make matters worse, the non-stop news about the United States Postal Service and the concerns about their ability to deliver mail-in ballots to be delivered and counted on time have people even more worried.
Mail-in/absentee ballot voting is expected to increase substantially for this year’s election compared to previous elections. Just for reference, about 25% of eligible voters voted by mail in the 2016 election. It is expected that more than half of eligible voters may decide to not go vote in person and instead go the route of mail-in/absentee voting for the 2020 election.
Deadline for voters to request a mail-in ballot
When it comes to the deadline to request a mail-in ballot, some states automatically mail the ballots to the homes of all eligible voters.
States that do this are:
- Washington D.C.
- New Jersey
A few states have no exact deadline for when the request must be made. These states are:
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
The remaining states all have set deadlines for when the ballots must be requested.
Here is a breakdown of those dates:
|October 13||Rhode Island|
|October 20||Maryland and New Mexico|
|October 23||Arizona, Idaho, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia|
|October 24||Alaska, Florida, and Iowa|
|October 27||Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee|
|October 28||Massachusetts and West Virginia|
|October 29||Alabama, Illinois, Maine, and Wisconsin|
|October 30||Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, and South Carolina|
|November 2||Connecticut, Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming|
Please note that some states require a reasonable justification for mail-in/absentee ballot voting (eligible voters must meet state’s voting criteria).
States that have this requirement are:
- New York
- South Carolina
How to apply for mail-in/absentee ballots and state voting information
States that automatically mail out ballots
|California||Mailed to voters automatically|
|Colorado||Mailed to voters automatically|
|Washington D.C.||Mailed to voters automatically|
|Hawaii||Mailed to voters automatically|
|Nevada||Mailed to voters automatically|
|New Jersey||Mailed to voters automatically|
|Oregon||Mailed to voters automatically|
|Utah||Mailed to voters automatically|
|Vermont||Mailed to voters automatically|
|Washington||Mailed to voters automatically|
States that require reasonable justification
|Louisiana||Apply online, by mailing application, or in person|
|Mississippi||Apply online or in person|
|New York||Apply by mailing application or in person|
|South Carolina||Apply by mailing/faxing/emailing application or in person|
|Tennessee||Apply by mailing/faxing/email application|
|Texas||Apply by mailing/faxing/email application|
States that allow everyone to vote by mail
Deadline for when ballots must be received or postmarked
|Date Received Deadline||State|
|Received 1 day before election day (November 2)||Louisiana and Vermont|
|Received on election day (November 3)||Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming|
|Postmarked 1 day beforeelection day (November 2)||Iowa, North Dakota, Ohio, and Utah|
|Postmarked by election day (November 3)||Alaska, California, Washington D.C., Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia|
Since mail-in/absentee ballots take longer to process and be counted compared to in person voting, election officials and experts are suggesting that voters send back their filled out ballots as early as they can. At the very latest, mailing filled out ballots back a week before the election should be enough time for it to be received and counted by election officials.