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Map: Mail-In Voting Rules By State — And The Deadlines You Need


In response to the coronavirus pandemic, dozens of states have modified their rules for mail-in voting in November's elections.

Some of those changes are more substantial than others.

California, Nevada, New Jersey and Vermont, along with Washington, D.C., are sending mail-in ballots to all voters, joining the handful of states that conduct all-mail elections. In Montana, individual counties are now authorized to send voters ballots. And many more states are mailing voters absentee ballot applications.

There's also been a big expansion in who can vote absentee. Many states, including New Hampshire and New York, have suspended the need for an excuse to obtain an absentee ballot, or said fear of contracting COVID-19 while voting is a valid excuse.

Other states have altered deadlines and/or loosened rules for submitting an absentee ballot. Some states — often as the result of litigation — have said mail-in ballots only need to be postmarked by Election Day, rather than received by then. And in Virginia, for instance, an absentee ballot won't need a witness signature.

The graphic above gives a broad overview of mail-in voting procedures for each state and some basic deadlines voters should know.

Here are a few caveats as you look up your state's information:

  • Many states have options for voter registration, perhaps at specific locations, even after the statewide deadline.
  • In states that have early voting, the dates often vary by county, or can be on weekdays and not weekends.
  • If your state has no true early voting period, you can likely still drop-off an absentee ballot early.
  • In short, the voting rules and procedures vary widely, so be sure to check with your state for the most detailed and up-to-date information.

    With (lots of) research help by Washington Desk editorial assistant Elena Moore. This map was originally published on Sept. 14.

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Ben Swasey is an editor on the Washington Desk who mostly covers politics and voting.