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Where your state stands on voting by mail

  • Where your state stands on voting by mail

    Whether or not registered voters should be able to mail in a vote has long been a contentious topic. In 2020, things are different due to the global coronavirus pandemic. Large gatherings such as in-person voting could result in the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which states want to avoid. Due to this reason, many states have amended voter laws to allow an exception for mail-in ballots this year.

    Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey 5-year estimates, information compiled by The Hill, and each state's official website, Stacker compiled the mail-in voting policies and the voting-eligible population for every state. The policies are one of three categories: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse, mail-in ballots sent to those who request it (no excuse required), and mail-in ballots sent to all automatically (no excuse or requests needed),

    Many Americans wonder whether a more significant number of mail-in ballots will show a bigger voter turnout. However, not all states are on board with widespread absentee ballots, and have not amended laws to make voting easier. Some states require voters to have a valid excuse (usually military, age, religious, disability, or absentee reasons) to request a mail-in ballot.

    Oregon, Washington, and Utah stand out as the few states that automatically send absentee ballots to voters every year. Oregon began sending ballots to voters in 2000, and the state has seen a much more massive voter turnout as a result.

    Other states with a large voter population, such as New York, have amended state law this year and are expected to make a significant changes in the upcoming presidential election. New York will send absentee ballots to active and inactive voters this year, which will likely make a huge impact, as there are 13,686,685 residents of voting age.

    States that do not allow for mail-in ballots without a valid excuse may see a decrease in votes this year, as many voters do not want to risk contracting COVID-19 to cast a vote. Allowing a broader sampling of voters to cast a mail-in ballot does make it easier for people to vote. One downside to mail-in voting is that it takes longer to count votes.

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  • Alabama

    - Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse
    - Estimated voting-age population: 3,671,110

    Alabama allows mail-in ballots for those working shifts lasting more than 10 hours on voting day. People are also eligible for mail-in ballots if they are caregivers, ill, not living in the state, or incarcerated.

  • Alaska

    - Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them
    - Estimated voting-age population: 530,385

    No reason is needed to vote absentee in the state of Alaska. Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer in March was given the right to allow entirely mail-in elections this year.

  • Arizona

    - Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them
    - Estimated voting-age population: 4,812,764

    Arizona residents do not need a reason to request a mail-in ballot. Most state residents already vote by mail, based on data from the secretary of state website.

  • Arkansas

    - Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse
    - Estimated voting-age population: 2,195,870

    Arkansas requires that voters submit an application for an absentee ballot. Valid reasons include illness, disability, absence from the state, part of uniformed services, merchant marines, or the spouse or dependent family member of a member of the military and area away from the state.

  • California

    - Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them
    - Estimated voting-age population: 25,232,634

    California usually sends mail-in ballots just to those who request them. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order in May declaring all registered voters would be sent a mail-in ballot to minimize risks to voters during the coronavirus pandemic.

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  • Colorado

    - Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to all automatically
    - Estimated voting-age population: 3,979,325

    All Colorado voters receive mail-in ballots. The state began mailing ballots to everyone registered to vote in 2013, regardless of their geographic location or other factors.

  • Connecticut

    - Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse
    - Estimated voting-age population: 2,600,979

    Connecticut voters can request an absentee ballot if they are out of the state, sick or disabled, or in the military, or if a religious belief prevents in-person attendance. The state in 2020 announced all voters would be sent a ballot, regardless of status, due to the global pandemic.

  • Delaware

    - Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to citizens with an excuse
    - Estimated voting-age population: 704,108

    Delaware voters can request an absentee ballot if they are sick, out of the state, disabled, or part of the armed services, or have a religious reason. In 2020, voters that feel unsafe voting in person due to the global pandemic can request an absentee ballot.

  • Florida

    - Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them
    - Estimated voting-age population: 14,724,113

    Florida voters do not need a reason to vote absentee and can request a mail-in ballot. Ballots must be received by election day in the state of Florida.

  • Georgia

    - Type of mail-in voting: mail-in ballots sent to those who request them
    - Estimated voting-age population: 7,254,693

    Voters in Georgia can request an absentee ballot up to 180 days before an election. No reason is required to vote absentee in the state.

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