2020 Election Tracker

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced states to reconsider how to hold elections safely. The interactive map below gives the latest updates on how election officials are planning for November.

State-by-state breakdown

A note on terminology: states with “standard absentee” policies require an excuse from the voter about why they cannot be at a polling place on election day, such as a disability or military service. States with “no excuse absentee” policies allow any registered voter to request an absentee ballot without providing an excuse. Five states hold “vote by mail” elections, where all registered voters are sent a ballot in the mail that they send back in. You can find out more about these definitions from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Alabama

  • Absentee method: Standard Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 29, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 2,566
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 87,553 (4.1%)

Gov. Kay Ivey used her power under Alabama Emergency Management Act of 1955 to postpone a primary runoff election from March 31 to July 14. Absentee ballot applications must be in by July 9. The deadline to register to vote is June 29. “This new date will allow for the electoral process to continue in a normal manner. This delay will allow all local election officials the time to assess and evaluate the changes that must be made to ensure the Runoff Election is administered according to plan,” according to a statement from Secretary of State John Merrill. In early May, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program filed a lawsuit against Ivey and Merrill over "the state’s lack of safe and accessible voting processes amid the COVID-19 pandemic." Merrill essentially banned curbside voting, saying that the practice is not authorized by Alabama law. In mid-June, U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon of the Northern District of Alabama granted a partial injunction sought by those plaintiffs, allowing curbside voting in the runoff. Kallon also waived notary requirements in three counties for absentee ballots. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, blocked this ruling on July 2 in a 5-4 decision. Every voter in the state must follow the required witness, notary and voter ID requirements for absentee voting. "Our goal is simple though unfortunately at odds with Alabama officials. We want to ensure that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Alabama voters will not be forced to choose between exercising their fundamental right to vote and protecting their health or the health of a loved one," Southern Poverty Law Center senior staff attorney Caren Short said in a statement after the ruling. Some cities and counties are taking it upon themselves to encourage absentee voting. The COVID-19 Unified Command, which is made up of the city of Mobile, the Mobile County Health Department and the Mobile County Commission, wants people to vote absentee for the July 14 primary. They are urging people to use a physical illness excuse to register absentee. The state will use $7.8 million — $6.5 million from the federal coronavirus relief law and $1.3 million in state matching funds — to “reimburse counties for various preparation and election expenses, including, but not limited to, masks, gloves, disinfectant spray, hand sanitizer, alcohol wipes, and professional cleaning services to return the polling places back to their safe and sanitary pre-election condition,” according to a statement from Merrill. Also using those relief funds, $1 million will be used to pay poll workers an extra $25 per day. On October 21, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Alabama state officials to ban curbside voting, which had been available during the July primary.  

Alaska

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 24, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 587,303
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 26,750 (8.3%)

Alaska delayed its in-person Democratic primary set for April 4 to an extensive vote-by-mail primary on April 10. The April 10 primary saw nearly double the turnout then in the 2016 presidential primary: 19,813 ballots received versus 10,610. Lt. Governor Kevin Meyer announced on May 15 that Alaska will conduct the August 18 primary election in the traditional manner, allowing in-person, early, and absentee voting. "Alaskan voters are welcome, as they have always been, to utilize absentee voting to vote by mail, early voting up to two weeks prior to Election Day, or traditional in person voting on Election Day. Luckily, we have the time to enhance our outreach efforts to ensure all Alaskans have the greatest access to vote in the 2020 primary election," he wrote in the statement. Meyer is also implementing a plan to mail absentee ballot applications to voters aged 65 or older. He said that demographic has a greater risk of contracting COVID-19. Critics, however, argue that the plan is not equitable, especially when it comes to voters of color. Nearly 80% of Alaskans older than 65 are white. Anchorage Democratic Rep. Matt Claman sent a letter on June 18 urging that absentee applications get sent to all voters. "There are many sound reasons to encourage absentee voting by all registered voters in Alaska, but only sending absentee ballot applications to seniors creates a disparate impact on minority voters," Claman wrote. Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, a Democrat from Sitka, has been a vocal advocate for a vote-by-mail election. He is the co-chair of the House State Affairs Committee, which recently heard from other state's officials who have implemented vote-by-mail.

Arizona

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 23, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 1,350
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 1,991,683 (73.15%)

Citizens from the Navajo Nation filed a lawsuit in Arizona on Aug. 26 that challenges an Arizona law that mandates ballots arrive by Election Day in order to be counted. The group claims that mail is slower and less reliable on reservations, and requests that ballots are counted as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3. "Voting by mail systems rest upon the premise that all citizens have equal mail service, however, hundreds of thousands of rural Americans have non-standard mail service burdened with a range of service limits including irregular service or unreliable service, no residential delivery, excessive distances to post offices or other postal providers with limited hours of operation among other issues," the lawsuit reads. The state is mailing absentee ballot applications to registered voters for November. Governor Doug Ducey issued an Executive Order on July 22 to give more assets for safe elections for the August primary and November general election. The order instructs the state to identify state-owned buildings that can be used as polling locations and gave more resources for PPE. Arizona invested $9 million of CARES Act funding to "support safe and secure elections" through the AZVoteSafe initiative. $5 million was used to hire temporary staff and bolster curbside voting for the Aug. 4 primary. $1.5 million was used to inform voters about their options, and another $1.5 million was used to increase early voting opportunities, especially for tribal communities. Members of the Arizona Recorders Association and the Election Officials of Arizona published an op-ed in the Arizona Republic in favor of vote-by-mail for the 2020 elections. They wrote that it would be the “best way to ensure Arizona voters are safe during this pandemic and have the certainty of the continuity of our democracy.” Senate Bill 1077 would have given counties a choice to hold elections by mail if the local board of supervisors approved it and if more than 60% of voters in the county were already signed up to receive ballots by mail. The Arizona state senate, however, did not even hear the bill. A federal judge extended the deadline to register to vote until Oct. 23., citing the pandemic's impact on efforts to register new voters.

Arkansas

  • Absentee method: Standard Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 27, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 1,436
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 26,655 (2.54%)

In a July 2 press conference, Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson said that current absentee laws should be enough for people who are concerned about coronavirus risks to vote by mail. "They just simply have a concern, a fear of going to the polling place because of COVID-19," he said. "That’s enough of a reason." Secretary of State John Thurston has claimed that CARES Act funding will go to purchasing PPE and other equipment for November, though the details of exactly how much will be allocated aren't clear. "The November election will look like all of the other elections in the past with the exception there will be folks wearing masks, there will be gloves, there will be hand sanitizer,” Thurston said at the July 2 press conference. Judge Olly Neal of Marianna and Susan Inman filed a lawsuit in late June seeking to require no-excuse absentee voting in November. The suit claims that this matter must be resolved soon so the state can adequately prepare for an influx of absentee requests. "Voters like Plaintiffs are faced with a Hobson’s choice: (i) vote in person and risk your health and the health of those with whom you live or for whom you care; or (ii) forgo your fundamental right to vote," the suit reads. The Arkansas state legislature on April 9 rejected an amendment to the Secretary of State’s appropriation bill that would have allowed no-excuse absentee voting in November. Voters in Arkansas can request an absentee ballot if they will be “unavoidably absent” on election day, they are unable to go to a poll because of illness or disability, they are a member of the armed forces, or they aren’t living in the United States. The Arkansas Department of Health put out guidelines instructing that anyone who can vote early or via absentee should do so, but those who plan to vote in person should practice social distancing. The statement said poll workers will be wearing masks and sanitizing voting machines after each use.

California

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 27, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 14,757
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 8,453,683 (57.86%)

Every voter in California will receive a mail-in ballot to participate in the November election. Governor Gavin Newsom signed a series of executive orders to prepare for November. One sends a mail-in ballot to every registered voter. Another requires at least one in-person voting center per 10,000 registered voters and at least one drop-off location per 15,000 voters. There are 15 counties in California that adopted the Voter Choice Act and Vote Centers, rather than precinct polling places, that can be used by any voter in the county. "Expanded vote-by-mail, coupled with ample in-person voting on and before Election Day, is the best formula for maintaining the accessibility, security, and safety of our election," Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a statement announcing the voting center order. "In-person voting locations are crucial to providing critical services, including accessible machines for voters with disabilities, language assistance, Same Day Voter Registration, replacement ballots, and more. Ultimately, the more Californians who vote early—either by mail or in-person—means shorter lines, smaller crowds, and a healthier experience for voters and poll workers on Election Day.” Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order requiring county elections officials to mail a ballot to every registered voter for the special election on May 12 for Congressional District 25 — to replace former Rep. Katie Hill — and Senate District 28. Assemblyman Marc Berman from Menlo Park introduced legislation that would mail every voter a ballot for the November election. AB-860 is currently on the consent calendar. Fourteen counties already mail a ballot to every voter.

Colorado

  • Absentee method: Vote By Mail
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 26, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 288
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 2,631,744 (91.25%)

Colorado switched to all-mail elections in 2013, where every registered voter receives a ballot in the mail a few weeks before election day. The state usually has one of the highest election turnouts: 71.9 percent of voters cast a ballot in the 2016 general election, compared to a national average of 60.1 percent. The state had a record-breaking 1,577,347 ballots returned for its June 30 primary, "easily the largest of any state primary in Colorado’s history." "In midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Colorado just set a record turnout for a state primary. A total of 99.3% of voters cast a mail ballot, and there were not lengthy lines or wait times reported at in-person voting centers,” Secretary of State Jena Griswold said in a statement. According to Colorado Public Radio, about a third of states have contacted the office of Griswold for advice on how to expand mail-in voting. “Thirty-six states already offered no excuse, absentee mail ballot. We have the foundation and now we have to expand on it,” she told CPR. “And Colorado will always be there to help.” The Secretary of State's office received $6.7 million in CARES Act funding. Some of it was used to add 100 new drop boxes around the state. *Voters who need an absentee ballot sent to an address they aren't registered under can request one until Oct. 26

Connecticut

  • Absentee method: Standard Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: November 02, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 744
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 129,480 (7.73%)

Governor Ned Lamont signed an executive order in May to allow every Connecticut voter to vote absentee for the August 11 primary. Connecticut typically has some of the harshest absentee excuse laws in the country. "We must guarantee access to the ballot, and this is a way to do that during these extraordinary circumstances," he said in a statement. "I do not take this decision lightly, and it is with the public health and welfare of residents in mind." Additionally, Secretary of State Denise Merrill announced that her office will send absentee applications to every registered voter. There have been a series of lawsuits from groups of GOP politicians in response to the loosening of the absentee excuse requirements, charging that absentee voting leads to voter fraud. The first was brought on by state lawmakers Sen. Eric Berthel, Rep. Jason Perillo of Shelton, former senatorial candidate Dominic Rapini, and current state House candidate Linda Szynkowicz. The second is from a group of current candidates in a group called Fight Voter Fraud. "This is the second suit filed by Republican candidates in as many weeks that seeks to limit the ability of voters to cast their ballots without jeopardizing their health," Merill said in response. "The plaintiffs are trying to wish away COVID-19, but you can't wish away a sickness that will render voters unable to appear in their polling places on Election Day." Connecticut postponed its presidential preference primary until August 11, one of the latest in the nation and just a week before the postponed Democratic National Convention. Lamont first postponed the primary from April 28 to June 2. Connecticut will use the $5.4 million it received from the CARES Act to expand mail-in voting and make polling places safer. Merrill said in a statement that the money “would be able to pay for an expansion of voting by mail in every town, securing the health and safety of poll workers and voters alike in our polling places, and enhance the security of balloting by providing the resources necessary for our towns to collect, store, and count ballots securely.”

Delaware

  • Absentee method: Standard Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 31, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 430
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 13,809 (3.08%)

Gov. John Carney signed House Bill 346 into law on July 1 that allows all Delaware voters to vote by mail in the 2020 primary, special and general elections. The law makes voting by mail an alternative to in-person voting, which will still be available. Delaware postponed its primary twice: once to June 2, and then to July 7.  House Bill 175 was introduced last spring to establish vote-by-mail statewide, and was amended at the end of March to make it go into effect immediately if the governor signed it into law. The Delaware state legislature, however, has postponed its 2020 session and House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf said he is not planning on calling lawmakers back to vote on this bill. *Voters can request an absentee ballot in person up until noon on Nov. 2

District of Columbia

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 27, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 144
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 16,592 (5.3%)

Washington D.C. voters will receive an absentee ballot in the mail during the first week of October. There will be 80 vote centers open. Washington D.C.'s primary was on June 2, with Ward 2 holding a special election on June 16 to replace former council member Jack Evans. The city urged voters to request a mail-in ballot instead of voting in person, but officials did not automatically send ballots. In response to COVID-19, the city only opened 20 of the usual 144 voting centers. The primary saw hours-long lines and absentee ballots that never got delivered. "The IT infrastructure supporting the absentee ballot request processes periodically failed. The DCBOE’s underlying assumption was that the absentee ballot process could scale to manage a significantly greater volume. However, the IT systems supporting the processes were overwhelmed," reads a report recapping the primary. The District of Columbia Board of Elections has 15 early voting centers, where early voting traditionally occurs and is now adding five more early sites to accommodate additional voters amid COVID-19.    

Florida

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 24, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 4,929
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 2,657,064 (27.64%)

Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order on June 17 that grants election officials some flexibility in upcoming elections. The order allows election officials to begin processing mail-in ballots earlier than normal. In addition, he eased administrative policies so state employees can work as poll workers in their home counties, addressing Election Day staff shortage concerns. The order may be too little, too late, according to Florida Supervisors of Elections. Officials at the local level have been preparing for elections anyway. "It comes at a point when many of the state’s Supervisors of Elections have already solidified their plans for the August Primary Election," FSE president and Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer said in a statement. "Florida’s 67 Supervisors of Elections submitted recommendations to the governor in April, which were substantially different from the accommodations offered by Governor DeSantis." The primary is on August 18. Election offices in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties are sending vote-by-mail signup forms to registered voters. These will be for the August and November elections.  Florida election supervisors have urged Gov. Ron DeSantis to adopt emergency measures such as an extension of early voting periods to cope with an anticipated shortage of poll workers. “While we anticipate that some level of in-person voting will continue, we believe that based on our March 17, 2020 election, alternatives or additional voting methods must be made available to counties,” wrote Levy County Supervisor of Elections Tammy Jones. Experts expect vote-by-mail to increase in November. Over half of the votes cast in Florida’s March 17 primary were by mail. Two poll workers in Broward County tested positive for COVID-19 after the March primary. There have been three litigation efforts in Florida over voting protocols during the March 17 election. A coalition of groups that includes the LatinoJustice Puerto Rican Legal Defense & Education Fund, Demos, the Advancement Project, Dream Defenders and New Florida Majority sued the state at the end of April. Their demands have to do with voter registration and outreach: including sending a ballot to every registered voter, extending the deadline to register to vote, proving more drop-off boxes and extending early voting. Two other similar lawsuits were rejected by a federal judge in the Northern District of Florida. *Voters can request an absentee ballot in person until Nov. 2.

Georgia

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 31, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 2,720
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 199,356 (4.81%)

Georgia's June 9 primary was characterized by hours-long lines, staffing shortages and malfunctions with brand new voting machines that were designed to leave a paper trail for added security. In some precincts, especially around the Atlanta area, there weren't enough paper provisional ballots to account for the voting machine issues. The Election Day breakdown led a judge to rule that anyone in line by 9 p.m. could cast a ballot; People in some counties, after waiting hours in line, ended up voting well after midnight. The office of the Secretary of State said in a statement that they didn't have reports of actual equipment issues, only reports that equipment was delivered late or to the wrong location. Statewide Voting Implementation Manager Gabriel Sterling also claimed that the issue was with poll workers not understanding the setup or operation of the voting equipment. Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections director Richard Barron pointed out that the pandemic did not allow for in-person training for the new machines. "The Secretary of State's job is to provide adequate support and training for counties as he implemented Georgia's new voting system, and he has failed," Maggie Chambers, a representative for Georgia's Democratic Party, said to Georgia Public Broadcasting. "Across the state, Georgia voters are waiting for hours to cast their ballots because Georgia's system is failing them." Before the election, there were reports of missing absentee ballot requests in Fulton County's system. Fulton Elections Director Richard Barron requested an audit of the missing requests. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger postponed the state’s primary until June 9. “This decision allows our office and county election officials to continue to put in place contingency plans to ensure that voting can be safe and secure when in-person voting begins and prioritizes the health and safety of voters, county election officials, and poll workers,” he wrote in a statement. The Secretary of State’s office is using the extra time to find and train additional poll workers, shore up contingency plans, and get cleaning supplies for voting equipment. Over 1 million Georgians had requested absentee ballots for the primary as Raffensperger shifts emphasis away from in-person voting. His office reported that they mailed absentee ballot applications to 6.9 million registered voters. At the same time, he established an Absentee Ballot Fraud Task Force, saying that “scams and deceit multiply” during times of crisis. NOTE: The absentee numbers above are from the 2018 gubernatorial race, the top ballot race from that election.

Hawaii

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 27, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 329
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 189,225 (43.23%)

In June 2019, before the emergence of the coronavirus, Hawaii announced that the 2020 general election would be conducted exclusively by mail. Hawaii has made absentee ballots available to all registered voters without restrictions.  On election day, there will be eight total voter service centers open throughout the state offering same-day registration and in-person voting.  Election officials have mailed over 658,000 notification postcards to active registered voters in Hawaii. Registered voters will receive their ballot in the mail approximately 18 days prior to the election.  

Idaho

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 23, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 833
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 200,380 (28.20%)

Idaho held its May 12 primary election entirely by mail at the direction of Gov. Brad Little and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney. The state launched a "Vote Early Idaho" campaign to encourage absentee voting. 415,500 Idahoans ended up requesting absentee ballots and the primary saw record turnout.  Idaho permits online voter registration and no-excuse absentee voting. Idaho voters are required to present valid photo ID when voting in-person. Same day registration is available at polling locations.  Chad Houck, the chief deputy secretary of state, told KTVB7 that he is anticipating polling locations to be open for elections in August and November.

Illinois

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 29, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 6,436
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 371,557 (6.68%)

The Cook County GOP is suing Gov. J.B. Pritzker over his promotion of the use of mail-in voting. The lawsuit alleges that Pritzker snuck through election reforms, including sending ballot applications to active voters.
According to the plaintiffs, it's part of a "partisan voting scheme that is designed to harvest Democratic ballots, dilute Republican ballots, and, if the election still doesn’t turn out the way he wants it, to generate enough Democratic ballots after election day to sway the result."
Public Acts 101-641 and 101-642 were signed into law on June 16. The acts have a series of provisions to increase safety and accessibility during the November general election. Some of the most significant aspects of the law are the designation of Election Day as a holiday, expansion of the period to request an absentee ballot, expansion of the methods to request an absentee ballot, requirements to encourage absentee voting on election education materials, and establishment of central voting centers. In addition, election authorities will mail applications for a vote by mail ballot to anyone who voted in the 2018 general election, 2019 consolidated election, or 2020 primary election.
Illinois is a no-excuse absentee ballot state. The state held its primary election on March 17. Most polling places, save for some located near or within nursing homes, were open as usual.  The Illinois State Board of Elections has requested $13.9 million in federal aid from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help hold the November general election amid the coronavirus pandemic.  Election officials expect a considerable increase in the number of mail-in ballots in November.

Indiana

  • Absentee method: Standard Absentee, Excuse Required
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 22, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 2,968
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 923,455 (32.61%)

Common Cause Indiana filed a lawsuit in early July claiming that a law that only allows county election boards to extend voting hours is unconstitutional. The law mandates that only a unanimous decision from the election boards, most of which are three-person bipartisan bodies, could ask judges to extend voting hours in case of Election Day troubles. Indiana is standard excuse absentee state. However, an exception was made for the June 2 primary election, in which all voters could choose to vote by mail. The primary was originally scheduled for May 5.  No changes have been made to plans for the November general election at this time. However, a lawsuit has been filed against the Indiana Election Commission and Indiana Secretary of State. The plaintiffs, which include Indiana Vote by Mail, seek to expand no-excuse absentee voting to the November general election, citing risks associated with in-person voting amid the coronavirus pandemic. The plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction on June 8.

Iowa

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 24, 2020
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 646,313 (40.87%)

Two groups, The League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa and Majority Forward, filed a lawsuit on July 14 that challenges a law that bars auditors from filling in missing information on absentee ballot requests. According to the new law, which was attached to the state's budget last month, if a voter writes incorrect or incomplete information on their request, the county auditor's office has to contact the voter directly instead of filling in the information using an existing voter registration database. This "will only lead to unnecessary delay and substantially increase the risk of disenfranchisement of entirely eligible, lawful Iowa voters," according to the plaintiffs. They say it violates the Iowa Constitution's due process and equal protection provisions. Election officials mailed absentee ballot request forms to all registered voters in the state for the June 2 primary, and the absentee voting period was been extended from 29 days to 40 days. Nearly 80% of voters in the primary voted by absentee ballot. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law at the end of June, however, that limits Secretary of State Paul Pate's ability to send ballot request forms for the November election. Many larger Iowa counties already plan to send absentee ballot request forms to every registered voter. Additionally, election officials are conducting a statewide poll worker recruitment effort. As many poll workers are older, and therefore in the high risk category for coronavirus, election officials fear there may be a shortage of monitors and administrative staff. Younger Iowans are being encouraged to fill in.  Each precinct was granted $300 through its county auditor to secure personal protective equipment, namely masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, for poll workers.

Kansas

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 27, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 1,182
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 177,701 (1.45%)

The May 2 Democratic primary was conducted entirely by mail. Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab announced in May the distribution of $2.6 million in CARES Act funding for election preparation. The money was designated to reimburse counties for "COVID-19 related expenditures." Another $1 million of CARES Act funding was used to purchase personal protective equipment for polling places. Katie Koupal, a deputy assistant in the Kansas Secretary of State office, told KCUR that more than 272,000 voters had requested absentee ballots by July 22, about eight times more than ever before.  

Kentucky

  • Absentee method: Standard Absentee, Excuse Required
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 27, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 2,465
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 35,967 (1.85%)

Kentucky delayed its primary from mid-May until June 23. All of the state’s 3.4 million registered voters were covered by a medical excuse — the coronavirus — and allowed to vote absentee, a significant compromise in the standard excuse state.  Over 1 million people voted in the primary, the highest turnout in 12 years. According to Secretary of State Michael Adams, 75% of people voted by absentee ballot. The League of Women Voters of Kentucky filed a lawsuit at the end of May challenging the state's voter ID laws and calling for a larger absentee voting expansion in November. Senate Bill 2 was passed via a veto override and requires voters to show a photo ID to cast a ballot. The Urban League of Kentucky and the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People are also plaintiffs in the case. "We applaud the expansion of absentee voting for the 2020 Primary Election, but those changes have not been made for the November 2020 election, which is soon to come,” LWV Kentucky president Fran Wagner said in a statement.

Louisiana

  • Absentee method: Standard Absentee, Excuse Required
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 30, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 2,161
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 57,476 (2.80%)

Louisiana postponed its presidential primary until July 11. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, in coordination with Gov. John Bel Edwards, expanded absentee ballot excuses for the election to include people concerned about contracting COVID-19. Voters were eligible to use the emergency excuse if they were: - At higher risk for COVID-19 due to CDC-identified underlying health issues. - Subject to medically necessary quarantines or isolation orders - Advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine - Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking diagnosis - Caring for certain individuals  

Maine

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 29, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 525
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 251,701 (32.6%)

Gov. Janet Mills moved Maine's primary to July 14 and allowed voters to request absentee ballots up until Election Day. The Secretary of State reported over 200,000 absentee ballot request leading up to the primary, according to News Center Maine. According to election officials, Maine has requested CARES Act funding to secure personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves for poll workers and in-person voters. No decisions have been made regarding the November general election at this time.   

Maryland

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 27, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 1,673
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 158,120 (5.63%)

Gov. Larry Hogan plans to hold a traditional election in November with in-person voting at about 1,600 polling places, a decision that has been sharply criticized. Hogan's plan also provides for enhanced voting options, including sending an absentee ballot requests to every voter and promoting "early voting, absentee voting by mail, and voting at off-peak times as safe and efficient options." One critic of the in-person voting plan is Attorney General Brian Frosh, who said the governor was "bowing to [President] Donald Trump’s reckless demands" to reopen the country even when the pandemic is still spiking. Six county executives and the mayor of Baltimore sent a letter to Hogan urging him to reconsider in favor of a hybrid election with extended early in-person voting. "We're encouraging to vote by mail. If you don't vote by mail, we have early voting," Hogan said on The View on July 20 to defend his plan. "And then on Election Day, we're actually going to have the polls open, in case we have the problem we had in the primary." The State Board of Elections estimate that Hogan's plan could cost up to $21 million, most of which would go to printing and posting the ballot requests. Additionally, cleaning supplies and protective gear need to be purchased for all of the polling locations. Maryland postponed its primary from April 28 until June 2. Additionally, the state conducted a special election on April 28 to fill the seat left vacant by Rep. Elijah Cumming's death entirely by mail. The June primary had some hiccups: some voters never got a requested absentee ballot, some received it in the wrong language, and there were hours-long lines across the state on Election Day. There were just 44 polling locations open. The state is looking into a different ballot vendor because of the printing issues.

Massachusetts

  • Absentee method: Standard Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: November 02, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 2,174
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 150,742 (4.46%)

Gov. Charlie Baker passed a law in July that allows all voters to vote absentee in any 2020 election regardless of excuse. In addition, the state is sending absentee ballot requests for the state primary and general election. Early voting is also expanded in the state; there will be seven days of early voting for the Sept. 1 primary and 14 days for the Nov. 3 general election. The law also relaxes polling place staff requirements. Election officials can recruit people who aren't residents of the town or who aren't voters, such as high schoolers. "By enacting this bill, Governor Baker and his colleagues in the Massachusetts House and Senate have committed to helping preserve our democracy amid a worsening pandemic—and other states must follow their lead," left-leaning group Stand Up America Political Director Brett Edkins said in a statement. "This legislation serves as a marker for states across the country to ensure voters receive a mail-in ballot application, can track their ballots online, and have safe in-person early voting options this fall."

Michigan

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 30, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 3,447
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 1,253,980 (25.72%)

Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson will mail all voters an absentee ballot application ahead of the August primary and November election. She did the same for a special election on May 5. Over 1.8 million people had requested absentee ballots for August and 600,000 were already returned as of July 22. "The volume of absentee ballot requests and returns we’re seeing underscores the near universal enthusiasm Michigan voters share for casting their ballot in a way that is safe, secure and convenient,” Benson said in a statement. “I am encouraged that this enthusiasm remains unaffected by attempts to spread misinformation about the integrity and security of voting by mail." President Trump has repeatedly claimed that voting by mail increases fraud, specifically targeting Michigan in a May tweet. The ACLU of Michigan successfully sued the Flint City Clerk's Office to process a backlog of absentee ballot applications. The judge in the case ruled that the office violated constitutional rights by not mailing out the applications in a "timely fashion." The state has also created an accessible absentee ballot application for blind and other disabled voters. Both the application and ballot is electronic and uses assistive technology to complete. Michigan is still seeking election workers to support all upcoming elections and process the increase of absentee ballots. The Michigan Bureau of Elections has provided gloves, disposable masks, disinfectants, hand sanitizer and face shields for election workers and polling places. Benson said polling places will be reconfigured to accommodate social distancing and other safety measures, which has caused some to be consolidated or moved. Meanwhile, $11.2 million in federal COVID-19 relief has been used to promote mail-in voting and provide hygiene materials for poll workers.

Minnesota

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: November 02, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 3,003
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 665,180 (22.36%)

Voters in Minneapolis, the largest city in the state, have requested more than 20,000 absentee ballots for the Aug. 11 primary. In 2018, the city received 6,006 absentee ballots for the primary. The state altered its absentee ballot law so that they count as long as they are postmarked on or before Aug. 11 and received no later than two days after Election Day. On July 28, a judge blocked enforcement of a law that restricted a person from helping more than three people fill out their absentee ballot, significant because of the state's Hmong and Somali populations. Minnesota launched an online absentee ballot request tool in May. In June, Secretary of State Steve Simon urged Minnesotans to "rise up to the challenge" and become poll workers, after voters in Georgia waited in lines for hours. He said young people should volunteer as pollers other years tend to be older and are at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus. “We need Minnesotans to step up to become poll workers this year," he said. "The polling places will be safe and clean, with masks, wipes, and hand sanitizer for every poll worker.” Gov. Tim Walz signed COVID-19 elections legislation into law on May 12 that outlines new procedures for the primary and general election. The law gives cities the ability to create new polling places, allows health care facility employees to help residents fill out absentee ballots, and extends the absentee ballot processing time to 14 days before the election until three days after. On Oct. 12, a federal judge upheld that mail-in ballots may be counted up to seven days after election day as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3. However, a federal appeals court ruled Oct. 29 that ballots received after 8 p.m. on Election Day are to be segregated and overruled the consent decree that ballots can be counted up to seven days after Nov. 3. Votes received after the 8 p.m. deadline may be invalidated in court.

Mississippi

  • Absentee method: Standard Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 26, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 1,808
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 102,025 (8.43%)

A group of plaintiffs including The Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a suit in Mississippi on Aug. 27 that absentee ballot requirements in the state. It takes issue with the excuse requirement, notary requirements, and lack of a system to notify voters if their ballot gets rejected. “Mississippi has some of the most restrictive burdens on absentee voting in the nation that run afoul of the constitution and have a particularly stark impact on Black voters,” said Jennifer Nwachukwu, counsel at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in a statement. “As a historic number of people are expected to cast their ballot this fall amid the ongoing pandemic, election officials have failed to take action that will ensure that all voters across Mississippi will have their voice heard." Mississippi has not expanded mail-in voting options. Voters can request an absentee ballot with the excuse that they are under quarantine for COVID-19 or caring for a dependent with COVID-19. Secretary of State Michael Watson released an op-ed in May that outlines a loose contingency plan for the November election, including additional poll worker training and incentivizing students to become additional poll workers. He also suggested outdoor voting, capacity limits, and diligent cleaning of voter equipment. Watson made clear, however, his opposition to strategies like universal vote-by-mail and early voting, which many other states have adopted in response to the pandemic. "We realize the greatest vulnerability to our electoral system would be adopting policies such as universal vote by mail (VBM) and no-excuse early voting, which could leave us vulnerable to instances of voter fraud such as forgery and ballot harvesting," he wrote. "With the plan we have put forth, the safeguards in place to protect against fraud will remain intact. The Attorney General has confirmed any instance of voter fraud, no matter how big or how small, will be prosecuted to the maximum extent allowed by law." Lawmakers have made several small changes to the state's absentee ballot policy for November. Voters must now postmark ballots by Election Day and need to be received by election officials within five days of the election. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed Senate Bill 2772 into law on May 20 to move $1.5 billion of the federal funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to the budget contingency fund where the federal money can’t be spent without legislative action. State agencies will still be able to access $100 million if they have immediate needs related to COVID-19. Watson reiterated in June that he opposes the use of mail-in voting during the pandemic because the state's laws allow enough flexibility for early voting by absentee ballot, which would considerably cut the size of lines outside polling locations on election day. However, he said voters are allowed to request absentee ballots if they are sick due to COVID-19, but it's up to election officials to decide whether to allow the resident to vote absentee.

Missouri

  • Absentee method: Standard Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 21, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 2,748
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 273,336 (9.19%)

In June, Gov. Mike Parson signed into law Senate Bill 631, which allows individuals who have contracted COVID-19 or are otherwise at risk of contracting it — people over 65 years old or those who have a medical condition that makes them vulnerable to the virus — to vote absentee this year without needing notarization. It also allows any Missouri voter to vote absentee with a notarization. The bill will expire December 31, 2020. “Any Missourian affected by COVID-19 should still be able to vote, including those who are sick or considered at risk,” Parson said. Election officials are planning to increase the number of polling places for the Aug. 4 primary as well as moving polling locations to larger venues. Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft delivered personal protective equipment to election jurisdictions in May and began distributing $4.5 million in election safety funding. Ashcroft has maintained that in-person voting is "a secure option." "My office has distributed $4.5 million in federal funds and a state match and provided them with sanitizer, floor distancing strips, face masks, face shields and other items to assist with creating a safe voting environment," he said in a statement. "Voting in person is the most secure way to cast a ballot.” Various civil rights groups, including the League of Women Voters and the Missouri  National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, have filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft to push for expanding the state’s absentee voting laws to quarantined residents. Parson has said there’s no need to change how people will vote, arguing “calls for mail-in voting are about politics rather than voter safety.” Ashcroft has denied to comment on the issue but, in recent interviews, he has said the state is providing poll workers with protective equipment and working to develop ways to keep voters from crowding together. The suit was initially dismissed by a Cole County judge but then kept alive by the state Supreme Court in late June. *Voters can request absentee ballots in person until November 2

Montana

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: November 02, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 363
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 332,541 (64.33%)

Gov. Steve Bullock will let county election officials conduct elections entirely by mail in November. "It only makes sense that we start preparing now to ensure that no Montanan will have to choose between their vote or their health," Bullock said. "They didn't have to in June and they shouldn't have to in November." Montana Association of Clerk & Recorders/Election Administrators and the Montana Association of Counties sent a letter on July 24 to Bullock asking for the option to conduct a vote-by-mail election in November. "Given we are unsure of how long the pandemic will last, Montana’s Clerk & Recorders/Election Administrators want to (and absolutely should be) prepared for the worst, especially given that elections require numerous election judges and enormous groups of people," it reads. Bullock issued a directive in March that permitted counties to expand early voting and conduct the June 2 primary via mail-in voting. All 56 counties chose to hold the election by mail, and voter turnout was 55%. An advisory council selected to advise Bullock on how to spend Montana’s funding of $1.25 billion from the $150 billion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act recommended in its report the money should be used to provide support to businesses and nonprofits affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The 24-member committee also suggested funding be devoted to facilitating testing, tracing, and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE); providing impacted individuals have easy access to funding; and facilitating statewide guidance and coordination with local public health departments among others. A Billings judge sided with Native American advocacy groups in a July preliminary injunction against an absentee ballot gathering law. The law, a referendum from 2018, restricted who could collect absentee ballots to family members, household members and caregivers, and further limited the number of absentee ballots people could collect to six. Opponents of the rule said it unfairly discriminated against Native Americans, who often live on reservations isolated from the postal service and polling centers and rely on friends to drop off lots of ballots at once. This could be critical as voters turn to absentee ballots in November.

Nebraska

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 23, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 1,150
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 233,889 (26.88%)

Secretary of State Robert Evnen will send every registered voter an absentee ballot application ahead of the November election. He previously said that the state may not take this action for November after a successful May primary. Evnen sent mail-in ballot applications to registered voters for the May 12 primary, which was the original primary date. The primary saw a record number of more than 492,000 ballots cast. In a press release, Evnen said that the success was due to clear communication with voters about their options. "At this point, I don’t think that it will be necessary to repeat these notifications for the November general election," he wrote. "Every single Nebraska voter now knows of both their early ballot option and their option to vote at the polls. Hopefully the pandemic will be tamped down by then, but whatever the situation, we have proven that our state can keep Nebraska voters and poll workers safe, we will be ready to do so again in November." Officials in Douglas, Sarpy and Lancaster counties are planning to send ballot-request forms before November. County election officials recruited poll workers who were not part of an at-risk demographic and who could receive their training virtually or in a safe environment. To keep social distancing measures in place, Evnen’s office and the Nebraska Association of County Officials purchased and installed ballot drop boxes outside of offices in every county that didn’t have one already. A week after the early voting period began on April 12, Hall County had already set a record with more than 5,800 early ballots, said Hall County Election Commissioner Tracy Overstreet. She said making voting-by-mail easier will result in a record turnout. The state broke its record for voter absentee turnout during the primary, as 400,000 mail-in ballots were counted.

Nevada

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 20, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 572
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 72,248 (6.4%)

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed Assembly Bill 4 into law on August 3. The law expands universal mail-in voting across the state for November. Election officials will mail every registered voter a ballot. This comes after some voters waited in hours-long lines to vote in the June primary. There were only 19 polling places open in June; AB4 mandates that 140 will be open on Nov. 3. "During this global pandemic, I made a commitment that we’d do all we can to allow Nevadans to safely cast a ballot in the upcoming November election," Sisolak said in a statement. "This bill will help prevent Nevadans from experiencing the long lines at polling locations they faced during the Primary election, which will protect their safety, safeguard their right to make their voices heard, and help reduce the spread of COVID-19." President Donald Trump, however, threatened to sue the state just hours after the law passed. "In an illegal late night coup, Nevada's clubhouse Governor made it impossible for Republicans to win the state," Trump tweeted. "Post Office could never handle the Traffic of Mail-In Votes without preparation. Using Covid to steal the state. See you in Court!" Nevada held a nearly all-mail election for its June 9 primary. 

New Hampshire

  • Absentee method: Standard Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 27, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 309
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 70,376 (9.28%)

Any voter will be allowed to request an absentee ballot for the September primary and November General Elections based on concerns regarding COVID-19. Secretary of State William Gardner extended what constitutes a “physical disability” in regards voting by mail to include being quarantined, self-distancing or caring for somebody with COVID-19. “Voters should not have to choose between their health and exercising their constitutional right to vote,” Gardner said in a statement Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed legislation in July that would have allowed for no-excuse absentee voting next year. The bill also would have allowed online voter registration, earlier processing of mail-in ballots, and would have added New Hampshire to the Electronic Registration Information Center. "New Hampshire's voting system works very well and we consistently have some of the highest voter participation in the country," he said in a statement. "The proponents of House Bill 1672 seek to take advantage of a global pandemic to fundamentally and permanently weaken New Hampshire's electoral system." A new advisory committee to the Department of State was created, Gardner announced April 27, on the use of $3.2 million in federal money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The Select Committee on 2020 Emergency Election Support will oversee the use of funds to cover additional costs incurred at the local level for handling and processing absentee ballots and protecting the health and safety of voters and poll workers. The committee's final report, released in June, recommended that the state should distribute protective gear to all of its polling places and reimburse municipalities for absentee balloting costs.

New Jersey

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 27, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 3,216
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 344,897 (8.71%)

New Jersey postponed its primary until July 7 and switched to an all mail election. Gov. Phil Murphy authorized a vote-by-mail ballot for every registered Democrat and Republican voter, and sent applications to unaffiliated or inactive voters to declare a party for the closed primary. Governor Phil Murphy postponed all elections between March 19 and May 11 until May 12. The rescheduled elections were all mail and absentee ballots were automatically sent to all registered voters. While the turnout was generally higher across the state, there were delays in counting the ballots due to mail delays and a shortage of postal workers, which proved the established 48-hour window to count all votes is too short. *Voters can request absentee ballots in person until November 2

New Mexico

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 30, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 608
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 47,429 (5.9%)

More than 247,000 mail-in ballots were cast statewide - up from 23,000 in 2016 - in the June 2 primary. This year, because of an election law "tune-up" by state lawmakers last year, the board of elections could begin processing and verifying absentee ballots as early as 14 days before election day when there are more than 10,000 applications. However, the record number of absentee ballots caused lengthy delays in tallying votes in some counties. Overall turnout was also much higher than in recent election years.  On Election Day, there was a limited number (61) of in-person polling locations. In April, the state Supreme Court had refused to mandate a mail-in primary election, but ordered county clerks to encourage absentee voting. The clerks had sought to convert the primary to an all-mail election, but were blocked by a lawsuit from the state GOP. In the lead-up to the primary, a public health order from the NM Department of Health urged absentee voting. Additionally, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver launched the online absentee ballot request portal one month earlier than usual.

New York

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 27, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 5,313
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 364,747 (4.7%)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a three-part election reform package on Aug. 20 that allows voters to request an absentee ballot due to risk of illness, allows voters to request absentee ballots 30 days before Election Day, and allows ballots to be postmarked by Nov. 3 to be counted. New York is now part of the group of states that suspended or expanded the illness definition for absentee ballot excuses in light of the pandemic. "The federal administration has ordered an unprecedented attack on the U.S. Postal Service and with COVID-19 threatening our ability to have safe, in-person voting, these measures are critical to ensuring a successful and fair election at one of the most important moments in our nation's history," Cuomo said in a statement. There are a series of pending legislation in New York, including measures to expand absentee excuses and authorize all voters to vote absentee. Cuomo signed Senate Bill S8130D on June 7 to allow electronic application for absentee ballots. Recently, Senate Bill S8015D passed both chambers of the state legislature; it would expand absentee excuses to include "risk of contracting or spreading a disease causing illness to the voter or to other members of the public." Election officials are anxious about processing the millions of absentee ballots in November. At an Aug. 11 legislative hearing, election commissioners urged lawmakers to put more funding towards mail, process, and count ballots. There has been a six-week delay so far in counting ballots from the state's June primary. Also in that primary were roughly 92,000 discarded ballots in New York City alone. "The volume of discarded ballots is wholly unacceptable regardless of any possible explanation,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. In March, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order to reschedule the state's primary from April 28 to June 23. New York then became the first state to cancel its Democratic presidential primary as a result of the state’s public health emergency, until it was reinstated in May by court order, in response to a lawsuit filed by former candidate Andrew Yang. Gov. Cuomo signed an executive order mandating that the New York State Board of Elections automatically mail every registered New York voter a postage-paid application for an absentee ballot for the primary. *Voters can request absentee ballots in person until November 2.

North Carolina

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 27, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 3,129
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 174,402 (3.7%)

Gov. Roy Cooper signed House Bill 1169 on June 12. It reduces the number of witness signatures required for absentee ballots from two to one and allows voters to submit absentee ballot requests by email or fax. Typically, ballot envelopes require two witness signatures. The bill also distributes $27 million in federal and state funds to the Board for upgraded security, equipment and PPE for elections officials, as well as making it a felony for an elections worker or board member to send or deliver a ballot to someone who didn't ask for one. Lawyer Marc Elias, along with his group Democracy Docket, added North Carolina to a lawsuit pushing to enact the "four pillars" of safe voting: prepaid postage, counting ballots postmarked by Election Day, reformed signature matching laws, and community ballot collection. The North Carolina Board of Elections postponed a congressional Republican primary runoff from May 12 to June 23. Election officials planned to provide single-use pens, hand sanitizer and protective barriers at in-person voting sites. Mail ballots that arrived at election offices up to three days after the election were counted as long as they were postmarked by Election Day. On Oct. 28, the Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling that allowed for an extension of the vote count up to nine days after election day. The state board of election extended the deadline from the initial three days proposed by the state legislature.

North Dakota

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: November 02, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 263
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 81,536 (23.4%)

Gov. Doug Burgum issued an executive order that directed state and local election officials to take several actions to conduct the primary by mail. For the June 9 primary, the state mailed absentee ballot applications to everyone in the state's central voter file, about 600,000 people. There will be no in-person voting. A federal judge granted an injunction in a suit that sought protections for mail-in ballots that get rejected for signature issues. With the injunction, affected voters must now receive notice when a ballot is identified as containing a signature mismatch, as well as an opportunity to provide the information needed to verify their ballots. The state rejects hundreds of ballots cast by eligible North Dakota voters every election.

Ohio

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 31, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 4,320
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 1,193,227 (21.3%)

Secretary of State Frank LaRose issued the Ohio Voting Safety Plan on Aug. 12, giving guidelines to county boards of elections and recommendations to voters. The plan includes routine cleaning of voting equipment, mask requirements, social distancing recommendations, and curbside voting options. It has 48 total points. "Ohio finds itself in the fortunate position of needing only small changes to improve the already safe, secure, and accessible elections system that we have in place," the statement reads. "Ohio has long offered three different ways to vote: by mail; early in-person during the four weeks preceding Election Day, including evenings and weekends; and in-person on Election Day." While each county will have a ballot dropbox, there are no provisions to to make any more available. Various election board members and mayors were pushing for additional dropboxes in November. "LaRose’s claims that he needs statutory authority are baseless and should be viewed for what they plainly are — an excuse to rein in boards of elections that are trying to make it more convenient for voters to cast their ballots safely and securely during a global pandemic," Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said in a statement. LaRose is also in favor of a bill that would move the absentee ballot request deadline to seven days before the election to ensure ballots can get through the mail system in time. Ohio has mailed all voters absentee ballot request forms since 2012. The state has 30 days of early voting. Ohio held the first all-mail primary in its 217-year history on April 28. Voters who did not receive ballots in time, due to mail delays from the outbreak, were allowed to cast provisional ballots at their county board of elections. While approximately 1.7 million Ohioans requested a vote-by-mail ballot, only 975,158 voters returned their ballot by election day due to pandemic-related delays in postal service. Many county offices were overwhelmed processing the increased number of ballots. The Ohio House approved a fast-tracked election bill to authorize Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose to send absentee ballot requests to about eight million registered voters in Ohio. The bill also moves the deadline to request an absentee ballot from the Saturday before the election to the Tuesday before the election and would prevent a public official from changing the date of the election. *Voters can request absentee ballots in person until November 2

Oklahoma

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 28, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 2,038
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 98,361 (6.7%)

Most voters are expected to vote by mail for the Aug. 25 runoff election. Oklahoma law requires the absentee ballot to get to election officials by 7 p.m. on Election Day. In addition, voters need to attach a copy of their ID to their ballot. Senate Bill 210 allows some registered voters  to claim “physically incapacitated” status for absentee voting at elections held during calendar year 2020. These voters must have tested positive for COVID-19, are quarantining, has symptoms, or are in a high-risk category. In March, Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax declared an election emergency and authorized local entities to postpone elections in 74 counties from April 7 to June 30. At polling places, voting booths were spaced at least six feet apart and those waiting to vote were also be asked to remain six feet apart. State and county election officials have seen a significant increase in requests for absentee ballots this year. Absentee voters must either have their ballot notarized or include a copy of a valid form of identification when the ballot is mailed back. In May, the state Supreme Court overruled voter fraud claims from the state election board secretary and ruled that absentee ballots do not need to be notarized for upcoming elections. Until the ruling, Oklahoma was one of only three states that required mail-in ballots to be accompanied by an affidavit notarized in person.

Oregon

  • Absentee method: Vote by Mail
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 29, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: N/A
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 2,033,878 (100%)

Oregon held the nation's first all-mail election in 1995 and has held all federal, state and local elections by mail since 2000. Election officials have noted very few fraud cases have been detected since its inception. Governors and secretaries of state back this assertion. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the first U.S. senator to win a vote-by-mail election, has been trying to implement a national mail-in ballot system for nearly two decades. In the May 19 primary, voters received postage-prepaid ballot envelopes for the first time. Elections offices also took steps to protect workers who process ballots, by reducing hiring quotas, hiring younger people than usual and requiring masks and gloves as they work. A record-setting 1.3 million voters participated in the election.

Pennsylvania

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 27, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 9,159
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 262,877 (4.2%)

The Pennsylvania Department of State will provide funding for postage for all absentee ballots in the general election. "Mail-in or absentee voting with prepaid postage means Pennsylvanians can vote from the comfort of their own home, without having to make a trip to the post office to buy a stamp, during the COVID-19 pandemic," Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar said in a statement. Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation to reschedule the presidential primary from April 28 to June 2. The bill also consolidated polling places, eased polling location and staffing rules, allowed counties to process and tabulate mail-in ballots earlier, and made other election process changes. The state expanded absentee voting in 2019 by getting rid of the excuse requirement, but Pennsylvania has historically had low mail-in voting numbers. Ahead of the primary, election officials received a record 1.8 million requests for absentee ballots. Democrats fueled the surge in mail ballots, requesting at higher rates than Republicans in every single county. Many counties could not keep up and final results were delayed as votes continued to be tallied several days after Election Day. On Sept. 17 the state Supreme Court ruled that officials to toss all "naked ballots" or mail-in ballots returned but not enclosed in their inner secrecy envelopes. The ruling also extended the deadline for mail ballots to be returned to up to three days after the election and will allow voters to submit mail ballots through drop boxes. On Oct. 19, the Supreme Court let the ruling stand that election officials may count ballots received up to three days after the election if they were mailed on or before election day. On Oct. 28, the Supreme Court refused a plea to allow the state to decide on Nov. 3 whether or not they can continue to receive absentee ballots up to three days after Election day. So it stands that the state will continue to count ballots postmarked for Election day up to three days after Nov. 3. 

Rhode Island

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 13, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 461
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 38,567 (8.4%)

Rhode Island extended the early voting period to 20 days before Election Day. Republican groups in the state wanted the Supreme Court to block an order from a trial judge that suspended witness and notary requirements for absentee ballots. The Supreme Court rejected that request, however, on Aug. 13. The witness requirement is suspended for the September statewide primary. "Making it easier to vote safely from home by removing the burden of obtaining two witnesses or a notary is a common-sense step that will protect Rhode Islanders during this pandemic," Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea said in a statement. Voters will not receive mail ballot applications for the Sept. 8 election due to a "lack of timely and unified action" on the issue. Voters will instead receive a postcard explaining the options they have to cast a ballot. Additionally, the Secretary of State's office will provide applications and postage for voters upon request. Governor Gina Raimondo issued an executive order to postpone the presidential primary from April 28 to June 2 and directed the election board to conduct the election primarily by mail. Gov. Raimondo’s order also suspended proof of identity and witness requirements for mail-in ballots. All registered voters automatically received postage-paid mail ballot applications. The state’s mail-in ballot system also cleaned out the state’s voter database by marking a voter inactive if ballots are undeliverable, to ensure a more accurate count of voter turnout. Only 47 polling places remained open across the state. Where the polls were open, a projected 10 percent of the total votes was cast, social distancing was implemented, masks were required and booths were separated by plexiglass. Over 90,000 voters, about 90 percent of the overall turnout, submitted mail ballots and the final vote was tallied by June 5, three days later.

South Carolina

  • Absentee method: Standard Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 30, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 2,211
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 494,529 (23.3%)

Two South Carolina voters brought a petition to the State Supreme Court seeking an expansion of absentee voting for the November election. They asked the court to allow any voter to cast an absentee ballot, implement early voting, allow curbside voting, allow online absentee ballot applications and give officials more time to count ballots. Republicans House Speaker Jay Lucas and Senate President Harvey Peeler, however, urged the court to dismiss the petition and allow the legislature, not the courts, to consider the issues. The Supreme Court sided with Republicans and will require mail-in ballots to have a witness's signature. Any ballots that were sent in and received by Oct. 7 will still be accepted if they don't have a witness's signature. South Carolina is among a dozen states that usually require absentee voters to get a witness or notary to sign their ballots, but this rule is suspended by court order for the June 9 primary. In 2016, 600 South Carolina mail-in ballots were not counted because they lacked a witness signature. Every voter in South Carolina was able to vote absentee in the June 9 primary. Voters typically must meet one of the state's 19 pre-approved excuses in order to cast an absentee ballot. *Voters can request absentee ballots until November 2.

South Dakota

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: November 02, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 527
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 106,055 (28.4%)

Absentee and early voting for the November general election is set to begin in South Dakota on Sept. 18, one of the earliest states in the nation. Because of COVID-19, voters do not need an excuse to vote absentee. South Dakota held its primary on June 2. Secretary of State Steve Barnett announced in April that the state would mail absentee ballot applications to all South Dakotans registered in the statewide voter registration file, with the exception of voters that have already applied for the 2020 election cycle or voters in counties sending applications on their own.      

Tennessee

  • Absentee method: Standard Excuse
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 27, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 2,189
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 53,310 (2.1%)

Tennessee's Supreme Court ruled on Aug. 5 that the pandemic is not a sufficient reason to allow everyone to vote absentee without an excuse, making absentee voting more restrictive during a time when most states are doing the opposite. This ruling overturned a June decision from a state judge that everyone should be able to vote absentee. The ruling does permit people with underlying health conditions and their caretakers to vote absentee. "Today’s decision ensures that Tennessee voters with underlying health conditions and their caretakers can access the ballot box safely," said ACLU of Tennessee executive director Hedy Weinberg. "However, we are troubled that the court did not expand the use of mail-in ballots so that all Tennessee voters could decide how to best cast their ballot to protect their health and safety." Republican Secretary of State Tre Hargett began a push in June to recruit poll workers for the Aug. 6 primary and general election.

Texas

  • Absentee method: Standard Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 23, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 6,683
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 449,258 (5.1%)

Gov. Greg Abbot extended the state's early voting period by six days, starting on Oct. 13. "By extending the early voting period and expanding the period in which mail-in ballots can be hand-delivered, Texans will have greater flexibility to cast their ballots, while at the same time protecting themselves and others from COVID-19," he said in a statement. Texas Democrats are aiming to send 815,000 absentee ballot applications to eligible voters before November. The Supreme Court decided in early July not to intervene in a lawsuit brought by the Democratic Party to expand absentee voting to all registered voters for the primary. A federal appeals court and the state Supreme Court had already decided that the pandemic is not a sufficient reason to relax absentee excuse requirements. A federal appeals court then decided on October 12 that counties throughout the state can only collect mail-in ballots at one location per county. Texas held a primary run-off election on July 14, postponed from May 26. Abbott doubled the early voting period, saying it was "necessary to increase the number of days in which polling locations will be open during the early voting period, such that election officials can implement appropriate social distancing and safe hygiene practices."

Utah

  • Absentee method: Vote-By-Mail
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 27, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 370
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 765,886 (68.7%)

Utah is a vote-by-mail state. Watchdog group Alliance for a Better Utah called on lawmakers to protect the United States Postal Service from attacks by the Trump administration. "Utah has a unique perspective and responsibility as a traditionally red state that champions vote-by-mail, and we need all of Utah’s leaders to help protect it," communications director Katie Matheson said in a statement. "We need Mike Lee, Mitt Romney, John Curtis, Chris Stewart, Ben McAdams, and Rob Bishop to do everything in their power to protect our ability to safely and accurately vote by mail." Gov. Gary Herbert signed HB30006 in to conduct the June primary entirely by mail with no in-person voting.

Vermont

  • Absentee method: No-Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: November 02, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 507
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 95,203 (29.71%)

Vermont is automatically mailing ballots to all voters for the general election. "Voting by mail is simple, safe, and secure,” Secretary of State Jim Condos said in a statement. “Planning for the 2020 Elections, as we collectively respond to the COVID-19 health crisis, has meant accepting that for some of us, the elections process may look or feel a little different this year.” Some Vermont communities, such as Barre, Huntington and Duxbury, held drive through voting for the Aug. 11 primary. Gov. Phil Scott signed H.681 into law on March 31. Included in that legislation is the authority for the Secretary of State to implement new elections procedures for the purpose of protecting voters, election workers and candidates. Some of the new procedures implemented by the Secretary of State include allowing municipalities to proactively mail ballots to registered voters for local elections and implementing drive-up voting procedures.  

Virginia

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 27, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 2,433
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 535,563 (13.4%)

Virginia is suspending the witness signature requirement for absentee ballots for November, pending court approval. Gov. Ralph Northam signed a suite of bills into law in April that expand voting options: creating 45 days of early voting, making Election Day a state holiday, removing ID requirements, expanding absentee ballot timelines and extending in-person polling hours. Northam postponed the state's congressional primary from June 9 to June 23. The state will use $9 million in CARES Act funding to prepare for 2020 elections amid COVID-19, with $1 million specifically going to personal protective equipment.

Washington

  • Absentee method: Vote-By-Mail
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: November 03, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 59
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 3,300,241 (98%)

Washington is a vote-by-mail state. The 2020 general election will be the first time Washington state will implement same-day voter registration. According to Wyman, all 39 counties are examining social distancing methods and practices at the new locations the state will add to process the increased volume expected from implementing same-day voter registration. The state is also working with a national non-profit consortium of businesses to combat the problem of what it expects to be a decrease in polling worker turnout due to COVID-19--potentially partnering with businesses and the nonprofit community within the state to help fill the workforce gap expected as a result of COVID-19 related issues.   

West Virginia

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: November 02, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 1,368
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 16,373 (2.2%)

The Secretary of State's office launched an online ballot request portal on Aug. 11. By Aug. 13, more than 7,000 people had requested a ballot. "The addition of the absentee ballot request portal for the first time in West Virginia’s history will allow our clerks to focus on voters who need assistance in the expanded absentee processes, ensure absentee ballots are sent to voters in a timely manner and prepare to hold yet another safe and secure election during this pandemic," Secretary of State Andrew Warner said in a statement. About $2.8 million in CARES Act funding will be available to counties for the general election in part to cover the postage cost of increased absentee ballots. West Virginia relaxed absentee ballot excuse guidelines for the primary and general elections. Secretary of State Mac Warner sent every registered voter in West Virginia an absentee ballot application for the postponed June 9 primary.

Wisconsin

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: October 29, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 2,578
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 138,542 (4.6%)

The Wisconsin Elections Commission sent voting information and absentee ballot request forms for November to registered voters. The commission is using $7.2 million in CARES Act funding to prepare for the fall elections, helping with postage, personal protective equipment, and staffing costs. The Aug. 11 partisan primary in the state saw relatively low turnout, but showed election officials some issues that still need to be addressed before November, including a poll worker shortage. About 675 Wisconsin National Guard members served as poll workers during the election. “While the WEC and clerks are thankful for the National Guard’s service, these shortages highlight the need for many more Wisconsin residents and organizations to fill the need for poll workers,” said WEC administrator Megan Wolfe. “The State of Wisconsin and the WEC will do what we can to help local clerks with recruitment, but we are asking local community members to step up for November.” The Wisconsin presidential primary held on April 7, 2020, became a flashpoint in the national conversation surrounding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the 2020 election cycle. Long lines at a reduced number of polling places paired with a lack of social distancing in Wisconsin's primary highlighted the specific challenges and dangers of carrying out in-person voting amidst a global pandemic. The state's Health Department reported at least 67 Wisconsin residents tested positive for COVID-19 after voting in person or working at the polls April 7, though the Wisconsin Department of Health Services said it was not clear how many infections may have been caused by the spring election because some of those individuals had other possible exposures. In Wisconsin, any registered voter can request an absentee ballot online. However, many voters reported not receiving requested absentee ballots in time or at all; as a result, many voters went in person to polling locations. On October 26, the Supreme Court declined to revive a lower court ruling that would have allowed the state to extend counting absentee ballots up to six days after the election.  Absentee ballots will have to be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Wyoming

  • Absentee method: No Excuse Absentee
  • Deadline to request absentee ballots for Election Day 2020: November 02, 2020
  • Total polling locations in 2016: 234
  • Total absentee votes counted in 2016 and % of total voter turnout: 79,463 (30.9%)

Wyoming mailed absentee-ballot applications to all voters in June for the August primary and November general election. In addition, the Wyoming County Clerk's Association secured a waiver to begin processing absentee ballots earlier than usual, starting the Thursday and Friday before Election Day.

The Wyoming Democratic Primary was moved entirely to vote-by-mail as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Wyoming Democrats suspended the in-person portion of their caucuses, scheduled for April 4, and conducted the presidential preference caucus entirely by mail.

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