Table 10: Ballot Collection Laws

1/6/2022

Our organization does not run elections and cannot provide legal advice. If you are a voter looking for assistance, please contact your local election official. You can find your local election official's website and contact information by using this database from the US Vote Foundation.

This table is part of NCSL’s Voting Outside the Polling Place report.

Sometimes a voter may be unable to return the ballot in person or get it to a postal facility in time for it to be counted. In these cases, the voter may entrust the voted ballot to someone else—an agent or designee—to return the ballot. Returning ballots for others is known as ballot collection or, pejoratively, “ballot harvesting.”

Some states, such as Alabama, state that only the voter must return the ballot. Others, such as Rhode Island and Wyoming, do not explicitly specify who may or may not return a ballot on behalf of a voter. In 31 states, however, someone other than the voter is explicitly allowed to return a voted ballot on behalf of another voter. Many of these states limit this provision to a family member, household member or caregiver. Sixteen states allow a voter to designate someone—not necessarily a family member, household member or caregiver—to return their ballot for them.

Among the 31 states where a voter can authorize someone to return a ballot on their behalf, nine limit how many ballots an authorized person can return and four limit how long those ballots can remain in the authorized person’s possession before being returned. These limits are based on the concern that saving people the task of returning their ballot can bleed into encouraging them to vote a certain way.

Please note that this table addresses the general category of absentee/mail voters, and states may have different provisions for absentee voting in case of a personal emergency or for voters who require assistance.

State

Who Can Return an Absentee/Mail Ballot on Behalf of a Voter?

Other Time or Quantity Restrictions

Alabama

Ala. Code § 17-11-9

No one other than the absentee voter.

N/A

Alaska

Not specified.

Not specified.

Arizona

Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16-1005

A family member, household member or caregiver.

Not specified.

Arkansas

Ark. Code Ann. § 7-5-403

A designated bearer. The bearer must return the ballot directly to the county clerk and must show a photo ID to the county clerk and sign an oath both when obtaining and returning an absentee ballot.

A designated bearer may obtain absentee ballots for no more than two voters per election and shall not have more than two absentee ballots in his or her possession at any time.

California

Election Code §3017

A designated bearer.

Compensation based on the number of ballots returned is prohibited.

Colorado

Colo. Rev. Stat § 1-7.5-107

Any person of the voter’s own choice or any duly authorized agent of the county clerk and recorder or designated election official.  

No person other than a duly authorized agent of the county clerk and recorder or designated election official may receive more than 10 mail ballots in any election for mailing or delivery.

Connecticut

C.G.S.A. § 9-140b

An immediate family member or designated caregiver.

Not specified.

Delaware

Del. Code Title 15 § 5507

Absentee voters must return their ballots by U.S. mail, by delivering it, or “causing it to be delivered” prior to the close of polls on Election Day. There is no explicit provision for an agent or designee to return an absentee ballot on behalf of a voter.

Not specified.

District of Columbia

D.C. Mun. Regs. Tit. 3, § 720

Not specified.

Not specified.

Florida

West's F.S.A. § 101.65

Not specified.

Not specified.

Georgia

Ga. Code Ann., § 21-2-385

A family member (including grandparent, grandchild, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, and in-laws), household member or caregiver. A jail or other detention facility employee may return a ballot on behalf of a voter in custody.

Not specified.

Hawaii

HRS § 11-104(c)

A voter may return a ballot in “any manner” provided that it is received on time and with a properly completed identification envelope.

Not specified.

Idaho

I.C. § 34-1005

Not specified.

Not specified.

Illinois

10 ILCS 5/19-6

10 ILCS 5/19-13

A person authorized by the voter. If the ballot is from a physically incapacitated elector, an employee or person under the direction of the facility in which the voter is located may deliver to the ballot must be authorized on the ballot by the voter to do so.

Not specified.

Indiana

Ind. Code 3-11-10-1

A member of the voter's household or a person designated as the attorney for the voter.

Not specified.

Iowa

Iowa Code §53.17

A voter’s designee or special precinct officials.

A voter’s designee must return the ballot within 72 hours of retrieving it from the voter.

Kansas

Kan. Stat. Ann. §25-1128

A designated bearer. Written designation is required.

Not specified.

Kentucky

Ken. Rev. Stat. § 117.0863

A family member, household member or caregiver.

Not specified.

Louisiana

LSA-R.S. 18:1308

If a ballot is returned by someone other than the voter, a commercial courier, or the U.S. Postal Service, the registrar shall require that the person to sign a statement, prepared by the secretary of state, certifying that they has the authorization and consent of the voter to hand deliver the marked ballot.

No person except the immediate family of the voter shall hand deliver more than one marked ballot to the registrar.

Maine

21-A M.R.S.A §753-B

Someone other than the voter (a “3rd person”).

A 3rd person must return an absentee ballot to the clerk’s office within two business days of the date the ballot was provided to the 3rd person.

Maryland

MD Code, Election Law, § 9-307

A designated agent. An agent must be at least 18 years old; not a candidate on that ballot; designated in a writing signed by the voter under penalty of perjury; and shall execute an affidavit under penalty of perjury that the ballot was returned to the local board by the agent.

Not specified.

Massachusetts

M.G.L.A. 54 § 92

A family member.

Not specified.

Michigan

M.C.L.A. 168.764a

An immediate family member or household member may deliver a ballot to the clerk for the voter.

Not specified.

Minnesota

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 203B.08

A designated agent.

An agent may not return more than three ballots in any election.

Mississippi

Not specified.

Not specified.

Missouri

V.A.M.S. 115.291

A relative within the second degree of consanguinity.

Not specified.

Montana

Mont. Code Ann.  §13-35-703

A caregiver, family member, household member or acquaintance.

An individual authorized to return a voter’s ballot may not collect and return more than six ballots.

Nebraska

Neb. Rev. St. § 32-943

An agent appointed by the voter.

An agent cannot be a candidate for office or anyone serving on a campaign for such a candidate unless the person is a member of the voter’s family.  No person shall act as an agent for more than two registered voters in any election.

Nevada

N.R.S. AB 321, § 9

A person authorized by the voter.

The authorized person must return a voter’s ballot before the end of the third day after the day of receipt.

New Hampshire

N.H. Rev. Stat. §657:17

A family member. If the voter is a resident of a residential care facility, a staff member may return the ballot, or someone providing assistance to a voter with a disability may return a ballot. The deliver agent must complete a form and present a government-issued photo ID or have their identity confirmed by the city or town clerk.

Not specified.

New Jersey

N.J. Stat. Ann. §19:63-9, §19:63-16

A bearer designated by the voter may return a ballot to the county board. The bearer must provide proof of identity when delivering a ballot to the board.

No person shall serve as a bearer for more than three qualified voters in an election, but a person may serve as a bearer for up to five voters if those voters are immediate family members residing in the same household as the bearer.

New Mexico

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-6-10.1

A family member or caregiver, either in-person or by mail.

Not specified.

New York

Not specified.

Not specified.

North Carolina

N.C.G.S.A. § 163A-1298, § 163A-1310

A voter’s near relative or verifiable legal guardian may return an absentee ballot.

Not specified.

North Dakota

Not specified.

Not specified.

Ohio

R.C. § 3509.05

A family member.

Not specified.

Oklahoma

26 Okl.St.Ann. § 14-101.1, 14-108, 108.1

A voter's spouse.

Oklahoma explicitly prohibits "ballot harvesting." Also, notaries may not notarize more than 20 absentee ballot affidavits without the written approval of the election board.

 

Oregon

Ore. Rev. Stat. §260.695,

§254.470

A person may return a ballot on behalf of another voter.

A person returning a ballot for a voter must do so within two days of receipt. A person, except an elections official, may not attempt to collect voted ballots within any building in or within 100 feet of any officially designated ballot collection site. A person, except an elections official, may not establish a location to collect ballots unless the person prominently displays a sign stating: “NOT AN OFFICIAL BALLOT DROP SITE”; and the sign is printed in all capital letters in bold 50-point type.

Pennsylvania

25 P.S. § 3146.6

Implied that only the voter may return their ballot: “the elector shall send same by mail, postage prepaid, except where franked, or deliver it in person to said county board of election.”

Not specified.

Rhode Island

Gen. Laws § 17-20-23

There is no explicit provision for an agent to return a ballot on behalf of a voter; a voter shall “cause the envelope to be delivered to the state board on or before election day.”

Not specified.

South Carolina

S.C. Code §7-15-385

A person authorized in writing by the voter.  A candidate or a member of a candidate's paid campaign staff is not permitted to serve as an authorized returnee for any person unless the person is a member of the voter's immediate family.

Not specified.

South Dakota

S.D. Codified Laws

§ 12-19-9

§ 12-19-2.2

An authorized messenger.

If a person is an authorized messenger for more than one voter, they must notify the person in charge of the election of all voters for whom they are a messenger.

Tennessee

Tenn. Code Ann. §2-6-202 (e)

Not specified.

Not specified.

Texas

V.T.C.A., Election Code § 86.006

A family member within the second degree of affinity or third degree of consanguinity or a household member.

Carrier envelopes may not be collected and stored at another location for subsequent delivery to the early voting clerk. A person commits an offense if the person knowingly possesses an official ballot or official carrier envelope with intent to defraud the voter or the election authority.

Utah

U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-3a-204

Not specified.

Not specified.

Vermont

Not specified.

Not specified.

Virginia

VA Code Ann. § 24.2-707

Only a voter can return a ballot in person; other methods of return—mail or drop box—do not specify.

Not specified.

Washington

Not specified.

Not specified.

West Virginia

W. Va. Code, § 3-3-5

Not specified.

No person may hand-deliver more than two absentee ballots in any election and any person hand delivering an absentee ballot is required to certify that he or she has not examined or altered the ballot.

Wisconsin

W.S.A. 6.87

Implies only the voter for mail return; “the envelope shall be mailed by the elector, or delivered in person, to the municipal clerk issuing the ballot or ballots.”

Not specified.

Wyoming

W.S.1977 § 22-9-113

Not specified.

Not specified.