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Along with hours-long lines and historical precedent, the 2008 presidential election brought renewed attention to the availability of early voting. Voters cast early ballots in record numbers that election. And afterwards, policy advocates pushed for its adoption across the country.
Despite the amount of attention given to early voting, many voters are still unaware that it exists. We're here to change that. Early voting, along with the absentee ballot, is perhaps the best option for those who want to exercise their right to vote.
Here are the laws regulating both processes.
Does My State Allow Early Voting?
Quite possibly yes. Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia have in-person early voting. Depending on the state, voters can go to a designated place and cast a ballot from 4 to 45 days before the election. No excuse necessary.
Some states also require the polls to be open on a Saturday or Sunday for those who work doing the week. Check with your local election board or your state-level Secretary of State for more information.
Does My State Allow Absentee Voting?
Yes! All states have some form of absentee voting, though it differs quite a bit from early voting.
Twenty-one states require an excuse. Excuses usually include work, vacation, childcare, or disability. Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia don't require an excuse. Washington and Oregon do all voting by mail.
Though some states have permanent absentee voting, you'll likely need to place a request for an absentee ballot during a designated period before an election. Election officials will post that date a few months before each election.
The availability of early voting and absentee ballots means that you don't have to miss an election ever again. So vote!