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Absentee Process

Absentee voting allows voters who cannot come to polling places to cast their ballots. A variety of circumstances, including residency abroad, college students out of state, illness, travel or military service, can prevent voters from coming to the polls on Election Day. Absentee ballots permit registered voters to mail in their votes.. The absentee process can take several weeks to complete so if you decide to vote absentee, make sure you apply early.  To vote absentee, you must:

  • Be registered to vote in your home state or territory.
  • Submit an absentee/early voting application well in advance of the election to allow for receipt of your application.  Check your state's instructions on how and where to submit this application.  You may need to follow up if you do not receive a ballot prior to the election.
  • Follow your state's rules about submitting your ballot; some states allow for online absentee voting, but many still require a paper ballot to be mailed in. Additional information such as witness or notary public signatures may be required. 


Why Vote?

It can be easy to believe that one vote will get lost in a sea of media buzz when it comes to national elections and maybe it won't matter if you stay home on election day.  Resist that mindset!  Your vote is critical, especially when it comes to local elections.  Think about this:

  • Elected school board officials make education policy. Your vote matters when it comes to school closures, tax rates that fund schools, textbook content, teacher compensation, curriculum, discipline policy, busing and more.
  • City councils, mayors and other officials decide matters of public housing, resident zoning, eviction of low-income residents, commercial development regulations, or whether to build a stadium and how much taxpayers will pay for it. These elected officials also regulate sidewalks, bike paths, traffic lights, pothole maintenance, how late public transit runs, and snow plow practices.
  • Your vote affects the composition of the state legislature, and on the national level can help determine who is the Speaker of the House or which party controls the Senate. 

Your local paper covers issues and candidates appearing on your ballot.  You can also check your state or county elections website.  Educate yourself on your local issues and vote!

How to Vote in Every State

John Green and Hank Green have made videos on how to vote for every state.

Voting Rights in US Territories (Spoiler: Pretty Horrifying)