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Where your state stands on voting by mail

Harriette Halepis on

Published in Slideshow World

Eileen Salazar // Shutterstock 1/52

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. In 2020, things are different 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, information compiled by The Hill, and each state's official website, Stacker compiled the mail-in voting policies and the voting-eligible population for every state. The policies are one of three categories: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse, mail-in ballots sent to those who request it (no excuse required), and mail-in ballots sent to all automatically (no excuse or requests needed),

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. Some 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 a 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.

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Visit thestacker.com for similar lists and stories.

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Alabama

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse - Estimated voting-age population: 3,671,110

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 530,385

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 4,812,764

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.

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Arkansas

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse - Estimated voting-age population: 2,195,870

Arkansas requires that voters submit an application for an absentee ballot. Valid reasons include illness, disability, absence from the state, part of uniformed services, merchant marines, or the spouse or dependent family member of a member of the military and area away from the state.

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California

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 25,232,634

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to all automatically - Estimated voting-age population: 3,979,325

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse - Estimated voting-age population: 2,600,979

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse - Estimated voting-age population: 704,108

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 14,724,113

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.

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Georgia

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 7,254,693

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.

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Hawaii

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to all automatically - Estimated voting-age population: 1,016,556

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.

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Idaho

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 1,192,742

Voters in Idaho can request a mail-in ballot. Despite the opportunity for people to request mail-in ballots, the state has not moved to an entirely mail-in system.

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Illinois

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 9,055,187

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse - Estimated voting-age population: 4,876,218

Registered voters in Indiana will automatically receive a ballot this year (2020). 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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 2,312,666

Any voter in the state of Iowa can request a mail-in ballot. All registered voters will receive a mail-in ballot in 2020.

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Kansas

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 2,077,566

Registered voters in Kansas can request a mail-in ballot and do not need an excuse. It is estimated that there are 2,077,566 potential voters in Kansas.

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Kentucky

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse - Estimated voting-age population: 3,338,198

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse - Estimated voting-age population: 3,452,767

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 1,059,542

All registered voters in Maine can request an absentee ballot. No excuse is required to vote via mail in the state.

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Maryland

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 4,262,388

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse - Estimated voting-age population: 4,964,686

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.

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Michigan

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 7,472,668

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 4,037,295

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 six feet apart is feasible.

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Mississippi

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse - Estimated voting-age population: 2,228,659

Voters in Mississippi 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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse - Estimated voting-age population: 4,585,994

All registered voters in Missouri can apply for a mail-in ballot with a valid excuse. The state passed a bill in 2020 that would allow anyone with a valid notary signature to qualify for mail-in voting; the law has yet to be signed by the governor.

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Montana

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 804,263

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 1,358,786

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 1,973,652

Nevada allowed all registered voters to vote via mail-in ballot in the primary election. Still, it is undecided whether voters will be able to vote absentee for the presidential election. Before the pandemic, all potential 1,973,652 voters could request a mail-in ballot without an excuse.

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New Hampshire

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse - Estimated voting-age population: 1,048,201

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 6,117,615

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 1,485,490

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse - Estimated voting-age population: 13,686,685

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.

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North Carolina

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 7,413,181

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.

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North Dakota

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 562,632

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 8,797,915

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.

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Oklahoma

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 2,819,168

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to all automatically - Estimated voting-age population: 3,002,261

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 9,748,290

Any voter in Pennsylvania can request a mail-in ballot without an excuse. Following the state’s primary in June, results were delayed due to absentee votes.

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Rhode Island

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse - Estimated voting-age population: 789,062

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse - Estimated voting-age population: 3,731,348

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 changes In 2020, when South Carolina will allow anyone (regardless of explanation) to request an absentee ballot.

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South Dakota

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 635,405

All registered voters in South Dakota can request a mail-in ballot. Absentee ballots were sent to every registered voter in the June 2020 primaries.

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Tennessee

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse - Estimated voting-age population: 4,964,909

Tennessee voters must provide an excuse to request an absentee ballot, but not during the 2020 global pandemic. 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.

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Texas

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse - Estimated voting-age population: 17,859,496

Texas voters must have an excuse to request an absentee ballot. 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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to all automatically - Estimated voting-age population: 1,982,911

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 494,674

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 6,096,244

The state of Virginia passed a law in 2020 allowing anyone to request an absentee ballot. There are approximately 6,096,244 citizens of voting age in the state.

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Washington

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to all automatically - Estimated voting-age population: 5,173,974

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.

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 511,190

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

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse - Estimated voting-age population: 1,442,035

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.

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Wisconsin

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 4,347,413

In May of 2020, Wisconsin decided to send all registered voters absentee 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.

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Wyoming

- Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them - Estimated voting-age population: 432,284

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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© 2020 Stacker Media, LLC; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC
 

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