Far and Away on Election Day: Early and Absentee Voting

By: Kat Saks August 5, 2012
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Can't make it to the polls on election day? No worries! With a little preparation, you can easily cast your vote through early or absentee voting.

Early Voting

If you know you will be out of town on election day, consider casting your vote early. You can vote early at a local voting office or, in some states, a satellite voting office.

Early voting regulations vary by state. In some states, you need to provide a valid reason why you won't be able to make it to the polls on election day. In other states, registered voters can vote early with no questions asked.

So, if you've got a bad case of election fever and you're just chomping at the bit to vote, you might be able to cure what ails you by punching your ballot early.

Absentee Voting

Maybe you're in college. Maybe you're out-of-state for military service. Maybe you're trekking through the Amazon with nothing but a backpack, a canteen, and a dream. Whatever your reason, if you're out-of-state on election day, you can still cast your vote via an absentee ballot, also known as a mail-in ballot.

Eligible voters who apply for absentee ballots typically receive them approximately 30 days prior to election day.

Eligibility varies widely by state. In some states, you can only vote by absentee ballot if you can prove that you'll be absent from your area on election day, have a physical disability that prevents you from traveling to the polls, or a religious belief that keeps you from the polling station. In other states, any registered voter can apply for an absentee ballot. Some states even allow unregistered voters to apply for voter registration and a mail-in ballot simultaneously. Check your state's rules and regulations.

Once you receive your absentee ballot, simply fill it out according to the enclosed instructions and mail it back in the return envelope provided.

Whether you see early or absentee voting in your future or not, save yourself a step before election day and register to vote. With your voter registration secured, you'll be one step closer to casting your ballot, wherever you are.

Have you ever voted via early or absentee voting? Tell us about your experience!

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