In this article, we continue our discussion on voter rights for vote-by-mail (absentee) and in-person voting, and answer the following questions:
In our last article, we touched on your rights as a voter and whether those rights extend to voting by mail. In this article, we do a deeper dive into the voting by mail process and why it may be particularly important in this election season.
Data for local elections, early voting, and the percentage of constituents requesting absentee ballots is, unsurprisingly, showing a massive increase in the number of people voting by mail. The Covid-19 pandemic is leading the push for more mail-in-voting, subsequently casting a spotlight on certain state’s guidelines and restrictions over the process of qualifying, receiving, and casting an absentee ballot. This election season will provide a trial-by-fire for the country’s ability to process a massive amount of absentee ballots and highlight the various advantages and disadvantages of voting my mail.
The Covid-19 pandemic is forcing legislatures to consider the pros and cons of voting by mail and how best to handle those in their region. Again, for the majority of states, absentee voting is a given, but in general, there are some advantages to the process:
But what about the disadvantages posed by mail-in-voting? No system is perfect, and any inherent disadvantages of mail-in-voting will certainly be highlighted by the massive increase in volume this election. Some disadvantages may include, but are not limited too:
Generally, no. As discussed in Part 1 of the series a majority of states have “no-excuse” absentee voting, meaning that you will automatically receive an absentee ballot, or just have to request one through the proper channels. The remaining states will require an excuse for voting by mail, the list of excuses includes:
Each state has its own list of excuses that are considered viable for receiving an absentee ballot. The easiest way to find this information is by searching your state’s voting website.
Each state has its own process for requesting an absentee ballot, but a majority of states will allow requests by filling out and mailing an absentee ballot application or taking the application to an election official’s office. Some states also have an online portal for requesting an absentee ballot. Lastly, the ability of qualified third parties to distribute and collect absentee ballots is allowed in all states, but many have restrictions and deadlines associated with the process.
All states allow the return of a completed absentee ballot through the mail, and nearly all states allow the return of a completed absentee ballot to their local election official’s office. Some states also allow voters to drop off their absentee ballots on Election Day at voting locations and in secure drop boxes.
We hope this series has cleared up any confusion you may have on absentee voting and your rights. For more detailed information we recommended visiting your state or county’s voting and election website, such as the Illinois State Board Of Elections website.
O'Flaherty Law is happy to meet with you by phone or at our office locations in: