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Absentee ballot

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An absentee ballot is a vote that is submitted before an election by a voter who is not able to be present when the election occurs.[1] Most of the time this is either by mail or over the Internet. All states allow for some form of absentee balloting, but not all states require a reason to vote absentee and allow anyone to vote absentee.


Numerous methods have been devised to facilitate absentee voting, including postal voting, proxy voting and online voting. Increasing the ease of access to absentee ballots are seen by many as one way to improve voter turnout, though some states require that a valid reason be given in order to vote absentee.


See also: Absentee voting

A total of 20 states require a citizen to provide a valid reason for their inability to vote in person on election day. They are as follows:

The following are some of the most common reasons accepted to vote absentee before the election:

  • Absence from the county on election day;
  • Illness or physical disability;
  • Living outside the county; such as armed forces, overseas employees, college students, or their families;
  • Is an appointed election officer or poll worked at a polling place other than his or her own;
  • Works a required shift during polling hours
  • Religious observance
  • Incarceration (non-felony)

Twenty-eight states do not require any excuse to vote absentee and allow all citizens to vote in this manner. They are as follows:

The remaining two states (Oregon and Washington) conduct all elections using a vote by mail system. Therefore, there is no need for absentee balloting.

The most common reasons given for using a vote by mail system are reduced cost of elections and increased voter turnout.[2]

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Ballotpedia:Index of Terms

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