Plan ahead, vote in advance

October 2020

Keith Goble

|

An often unyielding work schedule for professional drivers creates many challenges, but it should not be a cop out to skip Election Day and effectively mute your voice. You can still make your voice heard back home and help set the course on issues at the national, state and local levels of government.

All states allow advance voting. It’s a perfect setup for professional drivers. Some states allow mail-in ballots, commonly referred to as absentee ballots. Other states allow voting in person at locations leading up to Election Day. This is known as early voting. Some states even conduct certain, if not all, elections by mail. Your local elections office or secretary of state’s office should have details.

Absentee voting

In a typical year, 34 states offer “no-excuse” absentee voting – meaning you do not have to give a reason why you want to cast an absentee ballot. Other states either allow permanent no-excuse absentee voting or allow voters to cast absentee ballots only under a limited set of circumstances.

Absentee ballots – or even permanent absentee ballots – can be requested by contacting a county clerk, county auditor, county registrar or supervisor of elections, or the board of elections – depending on the state. You can look up phone numbers for those offices online, or via the government pages of your local phone book.

Permanent absentee ballots

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 21 states make available permanent absentee ballots for at least certain voters. States with permanent absentee ballots available for all voters:

  •         Arizona.
  •         California.
  •         Montana.
  •         Nevada.
  •         New Jersey.

There are 16 states that offer permanent absentee ballots for a limited number of voters. They are:

  •         Alaska.
  •         Alabama.
  •         Connecticut.
  •         Delaware.
  •         Kansas.
  •         Louisiana.
  •         Massachusetts.
  •         Michigan.
  •         Minnesota.
  •         Mississippi.
  •         Missouri.
  •         New York.
  •         Pennsylvania.
  •         Tennessee.
  •         West Virginia.
  •         Wisconsin.

Absentee ballot request deadlines

Deadlines to request an absentee ballot range from early October to the day before the election. Mississippi and North Dakota have an Election Day deadline for absentee ballot requests. Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington run their elections entirely by mail.

Registration deadlines

More than seven days before election

  •         Alaska.
  •         Arizona.
  •         Florida.
  •         Idaho.
  •         Indiana.
  •         Iowa.
  •         Missouri.
  •         Nebraska.
  •         Rhode Island.
  •         Texas.

Seven days before election

  •         Arkansas.
  •         California.
  •         Kansas.
  •         Kentucky.
  •         Maryland.
  •         Nevada.
  •         New Jersey.
  •         New York.
  •         North Carolina.
  •         Oklahoma.
  •         Pennsylvania.
  •         Tennessee.
  •         Virginia.

Less than seven days before election

  •         Alabama.
  •         Connecticut.
  •         Delaware.
  •         Georgia.
  •         Illinois.
  •         Louisiana.
  •         Maine.
  •         Massachusetts.
  •         Michigan.
  •         Minnesota.
  •         Montana.
  •         New Hampshire.
  •         New Mexico.
  •         Ohio.
  •         South Carolina.
  •         South Dakota.
  •         Vermont.
  •         West Virginia.
  •         Wisconsin.
  •         Wyoming.

Election Day

  •         Mississippi
  •         North Dakota

Early voting

Some type of early voting is offered in 38 states. The option allows voters to simply decide to vote early.

No-excuse early voting differs from absentee voting. Voters may visit an election official’s office – or in some states other satellite voting locations – and cast ballots in person.

The time periods for early voting vary by state. The average starting time for early voting is about three weeks before Election Day. LL

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.