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When you need to apply for and submit your mail-in ballot in every US state

Vote by mail .JPG
Lexi Menth of Seattle holds up her vote-by-mail ballot as supporters line up at a rally for U.S. Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren at the Seattle Center Armory in Seattle, Washington, U.S. February 22, 2020

  • Record numbers of American voters are expected to cast ballots by mail in the 2020 election.
  • In addition to the seven states and the District of Columbia that are sending all or most registered voters a ballot, voters can already request their November ballots in every state. 
  • The process of requesting and returning a ballot can be unfamiliar and confusing to many voters, especially those in states with historically low levels of mail voting. 
  • The US Postal Service is urging voters to request their ballots at least two weeks in advance but ideally as soon as possible, and mail it back at least a week before the election. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Over a dozen states have made it easier to vote by mail in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a Washington Post analysis finding that over 190 million voters will have a ballot sent to them or be able to cast a ballot without an excuse beyond the fear of contracting COVID-19. 

This fall, nine states and the District of Columbia, in addition to many Montana counties, are sending all or most registered voters a ballot, and several more have already sent out mail ballot application forms to all or most voters. In all remaining US states, voters can already request their November ballots.

Hundreds of thousands of ballots have gone out to voters in nearly 20 states already, with even more states gearing up to start sending ballots out to voters who have requested them this week. 

But the process of requesting and returning a ballot can be unfamiliar and confusing to many voters, especially those in states with historically low levels of mail voting. And mail votes are often rejected at higher rates than ballots cast in-person. 

Half of US states are to allow US voters to request ballots through an online portal, with Kentucky, Georgia, and North Carolina recently rolling out online absentee ballot request tools.

Here are the first days to apply for your ballot by mail and the deadlines to return them in every state: 

 

n the lead-up to the end of voting in the 2020 election, judges have issued conflicting court rulings on whether ballots must be postmarked or received by Election Day. 

Judges in Indiana, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin ruled that election officials must accept ballots that are postmarked by November 2 or November 3 and arrive after Election Day only for those rulings to be overturned by appeals courts. 

A GOP lawsuit challenging the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling to extend the deadline by which ballots must be received from November 3 to November 6 is currently pending before the US Supreme Court. 

Even if a court has recently ruled to extend the deadline by which ballots must be received in your state, you should still get your ballot in the mail at least seven days before November 3 or drop it off in-person to a secure dropbox or your local elections office, if it’s an option in your county. 

And even though 31 out of the 40 states not sending all voters a ballot this November allow voters to request ballots within a week of the election, both election officials and the United States Postal Service are encouraging voters to request their ballots as soon as possible to ensure they receive their ballots on time. 

In primaries so far this year, many election offices that saw exponential increases in voters requesting mail ballots at the last minute struggled to get ballots out to all voters in time in parts of Maryland, D.C., Pennsylvania, Georgia, and New York. 

The US Postal Service, which delivers millions of mail ballots every year, has told election officials that it cannot guarantee that voters’ ballots will arrive by a certain date, advising voters to plan for their ballot to take at least a 14-day round-trip.

A recent NPR analysis found that over 550,000 ballots have been rejected in primaries this year alone, many for arriving past the state’s deadline, making it even more essential for voters to not leave their vote up to chance and mail their ballots back at least seven days in advance.

Expanded Coverage Module: insider-voter-guide

Read the original article on Business Insider

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