ELECTION 2018: Can’t vote on Election Day? Do it in advance

August 21, 2018

Keith Goble


Driving over the road on Election Day is not a reason to sacrifice your vote. Professional drivers can still make his or her 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
About two-thirds of all states (34) 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. Phone numbers for those offices should be in the government pages of your local phone book.

Permanent absentee ballots are available for all voters in seven states: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey and Utah. At least 10 other states – Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New York and West Virginia – offer permanent absentee ballots for a limited number of voters.

Deadlines to request an absentee ballot range from early October to Election Day. The exception is Minnesota where there is no deadline for absentee ballot requests.

Deadline dates to request absentee ballots for the 2018 midterm election start Oct. 8. In-person deadlines are noted in parentheses. Dates are as follows:

  • Oct. 8 – Washington (Oct. 29)
  • Oct. 16 – Rhode Island
  • Oct. 26 – Arizona, Idaho, Nebraska, Texas
  • Oct. 27 – Alaska (Nov. 5), Iowa
  • Oct. 29 – Indiana (Nov. 5)
  • Oct. 30 – Arkansas (Nov. 5), California, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland (Nov. 6), Nevada, New Jersey (Nov. 5), New York (Nov. 5), North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia (Nov. 3)
  • Oct. 31 – Florida (Nov. 6), Missouri, Oklahoma, West Virginia
  • Nov. 1 – Illinois (Nov. 5), Maine, Utah
  • Nov. 2 – Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, South Carolina, Wisconsin
  • Nov. 3 – Michigan, Ohio
  • Nov. 5 – Alabama (Nov. 6), Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire (Nov. 6), North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming
  • Nov. 6 – Minnesota, Mississippi

Early voting
Some type of early voting is offered in 37 states. It 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.

Mail voting
Colorado, Oregon and Washington run their elections entirely by mail. The process is used to send a ballot to every registered voter prior to Election Day. In addition, at least 22 states allow certain elections to be held by mail.

For information on getting an absentee ballot or to find out if your state offers early voting, contact your local elections office or secretary of state’s office. You can also visit them on the Internet. See the state-by-state contact info.