VOPP: Table 5: Applying for an Absentee Ballot, Including Third-Party Registration Drives

8/6/2020

This resource is intended to reflect permanent state law. Many states have made changes to election policies that will only be in effect for the 2020 election. Please see Absentee and Mail Voting Policies in Effect for the 2020 Election for more information.

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.

The ways in which voters may submit absentee/mailed ballot applications vary among states. All states will permit a voter to submit an application by mail (usually via an approved form) or in person at a local election official’s office. Many states require the application or request to be in writing, either via an official application form or by written request in the mail or by email. Some states offer an alternative, though.

As part of get-out-the-vote efforts or a civic engagement program, some organizations like to assist voters in requesting and returning absentee/mailed ballot applications. Some states place restrictions on these activities by prohibiting third-party groups from distributing or collecting absentee/mailed ballot applications, or designate deadlines or turnaround times for groups that do this. These are often meant to encourage third-party groups to submit completed applications in a timely manner to ensure that voters receive absentee/mailed ballots in a timely manner.

In order to have enough time to receive an absentee/mailed ballot application, verify the information and send the ballot out, election officials usually need to receive absentee ballot applications a week or more before the election. Some states have statutory deadlines for applications closer to the election, but if a voter applies too close it’s possible there may not be enough turnaround time to receive the ballot in the mail. In emergency cases, however, absentee ballots can be requested after these deadlines. See NCSL’s Absentee Voting in Case of a Personal Emergency.

State Eligible Applicants Application Deadlines Application Submission Methods Third-Party Distribution & Collection Rules

Alabama

Ala. Code §17-11-4
Excuse required. Five days before the election. Mail, in-person. Only the voter may deliver his or her own application in person; no restrictions on who may distribute applications.

Alaska

Alaska Stat. §15.20.081
Anyone. Ten days before the election; 5 p.m. the day before the election for electronically delivered ballots.

Mail, in-person, email, fax.

Third-party groups are restricted to supplying only their own affiliated members with an application. An application may be returned by a friend, relative or associate for delivery. An application may not be submitted to any intermediary that could control or delay the submission of the application or gather data on the applicant.

Arizona

Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16-542
Anyone. Eleven days before the election at 5 p.m. Mail, in-person, email, online, phone. Third parties may distribute/collect/submit applications. Applications collected by third parties must be submitted within six days of receipt, under penalty of $25 per day for each completed form withheld from submittal. Any person who knowingly fails to submit a completed early ballot request form before the submission deadline for the election immediately following the completion of the form is guilty of a class 6 felony.

Arkansas

Ark. Code § 7-5-404
Excuse required. Seven days before the election for mail and electronic requests; day before the election for in-person requests.

Mail, in-person, email, fax.

Only a designated bearer, authorized agent or long-term care facility administrator of a voter may deliver absentee applications in person on behalf of voters.

California

Cal. Election Code §3001, §3007.5, §3007.8, §3008

Anyone. Seven days before the election. Mail, in-person. Third parties may distribute/collect/submit applications. Applications must be submitted within 72 hours of receipt.

Colorado

Ballots are delivered to all voters. N/A N/A N/A

Connecticut

Conn Gen Stat § 9-140
Excuse required. The day before the election. If faxing or emailing application, the original application form must be received by close of polls on Election Day or the mail-ballot will not count. Mail, in-person, email, fax. Third parties must register with town clerk before distributing five or more applications; unsolicited application mailings must meet certain criteria. No person shall pay or give any compensation to another person for distribution of absentee ballot applications.

Delaware

15 Del. Code § 5503
Anyone. The day before the election at noon.

Mail, in-person, email, fax, online.

No restrictions specified.

District of Columbia

D.C. Mun. Regs. Tit. 3, §720
Anyone. Seven days before the election; three days before the election for military and overseas voters.

Mail, in-person, email, fax, online.

No restrictions specified.

Florida

Fl. Stat. Ann. §101.62
Anyone. Ten days before the election at 5 p.m.; election day at 7 p.m. if in-person or delivery by designee.

Mail, in-person, email, fax, online, phone.

Any person or third party may collect and submit an absentee request form on behalf of a voter.

Georgia

GA Code § 21-2-381, § 21-2-385
Anyone. The Friday before the election. Mail, in-person, email, fax. Applications may be submitted by immediate family members only on behalf of a physically disabled voter; proof of relationship must be provided.

Hawaii

Ballots are delivered to all voters. N/A N/A N/A

Idaho

Idaho Code § 34-1002
Anyone. Eleven days before the election at 5 p.m. for mailed-out ballots; the Friday before the election at 5 p.m. for in-person requests.

Mail, in-person, email, fax, online.

No restrictions specified.

Illinois

10 ILCS 5/19-2 et seq.
Anyone. Five days before the election for mailed-out ballots; the day before the election for in-person requests. Mail, in-person. Any person may produce, reproduce, distribute or return to an election authority the application for a vote-by-mail ballot. Applications must be returned to the election authority within seven days of receipt, or within two days of receipt if within two weeks of the election. Failure to turn over an application is a petty offense with a fine of $100 per application.

Indiana

Ind. Code § 3-11-4-2, § 3-11-4-3
Excuse required. Twelve days before the election. Mail, in-person, email, fax.

A person handling another voter’s absentee application

must indicate the date received by voter and

deliver to county election board within 10 days or by the application deadline.

Iowa

Iowa Code § 53.2
Anyone. Eleven days before the election at 5 p.m.

Mail, in-person.

Third parties, including parties, candidates and committees, may distribute and collect applications from voters but must return an application within 72 hours of completion.

Kansas

KSA § 25-1122, § 25-1128
Anyone. The Tuesday before the election. Mail, in-person. 

Any person or third party may engage in distribution and collection of advance voting ballots but must deliver any

application within two days of completion.

Kentucky

KRS § 117.085
Excuse required. Seven days before the election. Mail, in-person. A spouse, parent, children or third party may request an application and deliver it to the voter. Only the voter may hand-deliver a completed application back to the election official.

Louisiana

LA Rev. Stat. § 18:1307 et seq.
Excuse required. Four days before the election at 4:30 p.m. Mail, in-person, email, fax, online. No person, except the immediate family of any voter, shall hand deliver more than one voter's application to vote by mail.

Maine

21-A ME Rev Stat § 753-A
Anyone. Three business days before the election. Mail, in-person, fax, phone, online. No restrictions on who may distribute, collect or solicit applications; immediate family members may make request on behalf of a voter.

Maryland

MD Code, Election Law, § 9-305
Anyone. The Tuesday before the election for mailed-out or faxed ballots; the Friday before the election for ballots sent by internet; Election Day for in-person requests.

Mail, in-person, email, fax, online.

No restrictions specified.

Massachusetts

Mass. Gen. Law chap. 54 § 89
Excuse required. Four days before the election. Mail, in-person, email, fax.

Family members of eligible absentee voters may apply

for an absentee ballot on the voter’s behalf in person or by mail.

Michigan

MI Comp L § 168.759
Anyone. The Friday before the election mailed-out ballot; 4 p.m. on Election Day for in-person requests. Mail, in-person, email, fax.

Only applicants, their immediate family or other

household member may offer to return, agree to

return or solicit to return an application; violation of

this law is a misdemeanor.

Minnesota

MN Stat § 203B.04
Anyone. The day before the election. Mail, in-person, email, fax, online.

No restrictions on who may distribute, collect or solicit

Applications. Must be returned to elections office within 10 days of completion.

Mississippi

Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-625, § 23-15-627
Excuse required. Not specified.

Mail, in-person, phone.

Any person may apply for an absentee ballot on another voter’s behalf, but they must sign and print their name and address on the application. Only immediate family members of a voter may make application orally in person. No person may solicit ballot applications or absentee ballots for persons staying in any skilled nursing facility unless they are a family member or designated by the voter.

Missouri

MO Rev Stat § 115.279
Anyone. The second Wednesday before the election; the day before the election at 5 p.m. for in-person requests. Mail, in-person, email, fax.

Application delivery may only be made in person by the voter or their guardian or a relative in the second degree by consanguinity or affinity.

Montana

MCA 13-13-211, 13-13-212
Anyone. The day before the election at noon. Mail, in-person, email, fax. No restrictions specified.

Nebraska

Neb. Rev. St. § 32-941
Anyone. The second Friday before the election.

Mail, in-person, email, fax.

No restrictions specified.

Nevada

NRS §293.3095, §293.313
Anyone. Seven days before the election at 5 p.m. Mail, in-person, email, fax. A person who, six months before an election, intends to distribute greater than 500 applications must: Use the prescribed secretary of state form; notify prior to distribution the county clerk of each county to which a form is to be distributed; not return or offer to return any applications; not mail forms within a certain timeframe before the election; applications must be submitted in person by the voter or a voter’s representative.

New Hampshire

N.H. Rev. Stat. §657:4, §657:15
Excuse required. The day before the election at 5 p.m. Mail, in-person, email, fax. Third parties may distribute and collect absentee applications so long as they use the prescribed form and identify themselves in communication with voter.

New Jersey

N.J.S.A. 19:63-3
Anyone. Seven days before the election for mailed-out ballot; the day before the election at 3 p.m. for in-person requests.

Mail, in-person.

No restrictions specified.

New Mexico

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-6-4.3, § 1-6-5
Anyone. The Thursday before the election. Mail, in-person, online.

Third parties may distribute, collect or solicit

absentee applications from voters so long as they are submitted within 48 hours of completion. A person who collects applications for mailed ballots and fails to submit them is guilty of a petty misdemeanor. A person who intentionally alters another voter’s completed application is guilty of a fourth-degree felony.

New York

McKinney's Election Law § 8-400
Excuse required. Seven days before the election for mailed-out ballots; the day before the election for in-person requests. If submitting an application electronically, in order for the ballot to count, the original copy of the application must be received by Election Day. Mail, in-person, email, fax. No restrictions specified.

North Carolina

N.C.G.S.A. § 163A-1308
Anyone. The Tuesday before the election at 5 p.m. Mail, in-person, email, fax.

Any person or third party can distribute, collect

and submit an absentee request on behalf of a voter.

North Dakota

NDCC § 16.1-07-05, § 16.1-07-07
Anyone. “In a timely manner”; Election Day at 4 p.m. for in-person requests. Mail, in-person, email, fax.

No restrictions on who may distribute/collect/solicit applications; although, any mailings require approval

from county auditor.

Ohio

R.C. § 3509.03
Anyone. Three days before the election at noon. Mail, in-person. No restrictions specified.

Oklahoma

26 Okl. St. Ann. § 14-103, § 14-105, § 14-115.1
Anyone. The Tuesday before an election at 5 p.m.

Mail, in-person, email, fax, online

Prohibited to deliver an absentee application for

another voter unless they are an authorized agent of an

incapacitated voter.
Oregon Ballots are delivered to all voters. N/A N/A N/A

Pennsylvania

25 P.S. §3146.2 et seq.
Anyone. The Tuesday before the election at 5 p.m.

Mail, in-person, online.

No restrictions specified.

Rhode Island

R.I. Gen. Laws §17-20-2.1
Excuse required. Twenty-one days before the election at 4 p.m.

Mail, in-person.

No restrictions specified.

South Carolina

S.C. Code § 7-15-330
Excuse required. Four days before the election at 5 p.m. Mail, in-person. Only immediate family may submit an application on behalf of a voter; a voter must request an application to receive one, and no third-party distribution is allowed.

South Dakota

SDCL § 12-19-2
Anyone. Day before the election. Mail, in-person. No restrictions specified.

Tennessee

Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-6-202
Excuse required. Seven days before the election.

Mail, in-person, email, fax.

Only one application may be furnished to a voter by the election commission; it is a class E felony to give an application to any person and a class A misdemeanor to give an unsolicited request for application to any person.

Texas

V.T.C.A., Election Code §84.0041, §84.007
Excuse required. Eleven days before the election. Mail, in-person, email, fax. It is a felony to knowingly submit an application for a ballot by mail without the knowledge and authorization of the voter or altering the information provided by the voter on the application.

Utah

Ballots are delivered to all voters. N/A N/A N/A

Vermont

17 VSA § 2531 et seq.
Anyone. The day before the election at 5 p.m. Mail, in-person, phone, online. Only a voter’s family member or authorized agent may apply on the voter’s behalf.

Virginia

VA Code Ann. § 24.2-701
Excuse required. Seven days before the election for mailed-out ballots; three days before the election for in-person requests. Mail, in-person, email, fax, online. No restrictions specified.
Washington Ballots are delivered to all voters. N/A N/A N/A

West Virginia

W. Va. Code, §3-3-5
Excuse required. Six days before the election. Mail, in-person, email, fax, online. Only the voter may apply for an absentee ballot in person.

Wisconsin

W.S.A. 6.86
Anyone. Five days before the election at 5 p.m. Mail, in-person, email, fax, online. No restrictions specified.

Wyoming

WY Stat § 22-9-104 et seq.
Anyone. The day before the election. Mail, in-person, phone. No restrictions specified.