All states, by federal law, are required to send absentee ballots to military and overseas voters for federal elections. See the 1986 Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).
Aside from military and overseas voters, some states have “no-excuse absentee” voting, which means any voter can request a mail ballot without providing an excuse, and a few send all voters ballots by mail. Fifteen states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands only permit certain voters to request an absentee ballot by mail, based on an “excuse” of why that voter can’t make it to the polls on Election Day.
All states permit voters who will be outside of their home county to vote absentee, as well as voters with an illness or disability who know ahead of time that they won’t be able to make it to the polls. Many other states allow elderly voters to vote absentee or allow voters to request an absentee ballot in case of an emergency—such as an unforeseen illness, confinement to a medical facility or an accident resulting in injury.
The table below summarizes and compares other acceptable excuses in the states that require one.
Note: This table is meant to summarize the acceptable excuses for states that require an excuse to vote absentee. Since it is comparative, it is not necessarily comprehensive of all excuses in a given state. Visit state election webpages for additional information on each state’s requirements.
*ACP stands for Address Confidentiality Program, which protects the information of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.