Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Tiffany Tertipes / Unsplash
Citizenship

How to Vote Early or Absentee, and What's the Difference?


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Voting is crucial to maintaining a fair democracy. The COVID-19 pandemic threatens this democratic process by restricting people from heading to the polls on Election Day. Citizens need to be informed of the other ways they can exercise their right to vote during a global pandemic. Join us and take action on this issue here

Heading to the polls on Election Day is an exciting experience, especially if it’s your first time exercising your right to vote. But this year, with COVID-19 disrupting the way we used to get things done, many Americans will be forgoing the in-person experience and vote by mail instead. 

Many states have made it easier for citizens to vote absentee this year to accommodate for the pandemic. However, every state’s rules and deadlines are different, and many are still in the process of deciding how they will handle voting this election.

Take Action: Check Your Voter Registration Status With 'Just Vote' Here

To clear up any confusion about these voting methods, here is a guide for how to vote early or absentee, and what the difference is between the two.

Be sure to check your state’s specific rules and deadlines so that you don’t miss any crucial deadlines.

Can I Still Vote If I Can’t Get to the Polls on Election Day?

Sometimes circumstances arise that make it difficult or even impossible for you to head to the polls on Election Day. Maybe you’ll be out of town or need to attend to another important obligation. Maybe there’s a global pandemic and you need to prioritize your health and the health of your family and friends.

If you know you can’t get to the polls on Election Day, plan ahead. In these cases, you usually have two options: Vote early or vote absentee.

More than half of US states offer opportunities for in-person early voting in the days or weeks leading up to the election. If you can’t get to the polls during the early voting period, many states also allow no-excuse absentee voting by mail, which you can complete before Election Day. All you have to do is request an absentee ballot by your state’s deadline, and mail it out on time.

Check out your state’s specific guidelines here.

Related Stories Sept. 1, 2020 6 Things to Know About Voting on Election Day

What Are Early and Absentee Voting Rules for the 2020 Election?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many states have made it easier for citizens to vote by mail this year. Most states are allowing absentee voting for all. In these states, voters can vote by mail without an excuse or cite the virus as a reason to vote absentee.

In nine states and Washington, DC, every registered voter will automatically be mailed an absentee ballot ahead of the election. And in some states, every registered voter will automatically be mailed an application to request an absentee ballot.

There are, however, a few states that are requiring an excuse beyond the virus to vote absentee. These states are Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. (New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order on Aug. 20 that allows concern over COVID-19 as a valid excuse.)

Related Stories Aug. 21, 2020 How to Vote If You've Recently Moved

How Do I Request an Absentee Ballot? 

If your state does not automatically mail you an absentee ballot or a request application, go here to request an absentee ballot.


Global Citizen and HeadCount have teamed up to launch Just Vote, a campaign mobilizing young Americans to register to vote ahead of the 2020 election and beyond. As part of the campaign, your favorite artists and entertainers are offering exclusive experiences, performances, and memorabilia — and they can only be unlocked once eligible voters check their voter registration status. Learn more about Just Vote and how you can take action here.

just-vote-logo-fullcolor.png