Who Controls the Voting Process?

I have written several postings related to Various topics including the military, Voting, the economy, religion and etc in America. A list of links have been provided at bottom of this article for your convenience. This article will, however address additional issues in these topics.

The Federal Constitution provides that the times, places, and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives is prescribed in each state by the state legislature.  However, Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators.

Accordingly, the Constitution grants the states broad power to prescribe the times, places, and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives, which power is matched by state control over the election process for state offices.

Pursuant to the Elections Clause, states maintain a discretionary power over elections.  The states are given and in fact exercise wide discretion in the formulation of a system for electing representatives in Congress.

The Constitutional provisions embrace the authority to provide a complete code for congressional elections as to times and places, notices, registration, supervision of voting, protection of voters, prevention of fraud and corrupt practices, counting of votes, duties of inspectors and canvassers, and making and publication of election returns.

Today, the states hold considerable power in determining the rules for all elections that happen within their borders. In general elections, states decide which method of voting will be used, whether felons can vote, and whether voters must show some form of identification at the polls. In primary contests, state parties run caucuses, but state governments conduct primaries. States set many rules of primary elections; they choose the date and determine if the primary will be open or closed. Yet they do not have absolute power—for example, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a voter-approved law requiring “blanket” primaries in California. Plus, the political parties determine how delegates will be assigned in light of primary results.

In exercising power, the Congress may supplement the state regulations or may substitute its own.  It may impose additional penalties for the violation of the state laws or provide independent sanctions.  It has a general supervisory power over the whole subject. When the federal statutes speak of the election of a senator or representative, they plainly refer to the combined actions of voters and officials meant to make a final selection of an officeholder.

An important layer in this system is the federal government, which mandates that all federal elections, primary or otherwise, be held in accordance with the Voting Rights Act. This ability is derived from its enforcement power under the 15th Amendment. In the early 20th century, some state primary rules were highly controversial and the subject of multiple Supreme Court decisions. Legal challenges helped shape the structure of primaries today, and animated discussions about the constitutional authority of states to curb private discriminatory actions.

In 1923, Texas passed a law forbidding blacks from participating in the Texas Democratic Party primary. When Dr. L.A. Nixon was denied access to the polls on account of his race, he sued the state of Texas, claiming that the restriction violated his constitutional guarantee of equal protection. The Supreme Court struck down the restriction, with Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes writing that it was “hard to imagine a more direct and obvious infringement” of the 14th Amendment. In response to the Court’s decision, the Texas Democratic Party instituted a rule prohibiting blacks from participating in its primaries, which was similarly challenged as a 14th Amendment violation. But the Court ruled unanimously in favor of the Texas Democratic Party, finding that the situation at hand was fundamentally different than that in the earlier case.

The Court explained that the Democratic Party was a private organization and could determine for itself its eligibility and membership requirements. The scope of the 14th Amendment was constrained by the “state action doctrine,” meaning that it guaranteed equal treatment only under governmental action and could not regulate the actions of private organizations like the Democratic Party.

Nine years later, however, the Court reversed this decision in Smith v. Allwright, in which it adopted a broader conception of “state action.” It reasoned that primary elections are an integral component of general elections and the democratic process. As a result, primaries must be seen as sanctioned by the state and are therefore subject to 14th and 15th Amendment scrutiny. Despite the fact that the Democratic Party was a private organization, the Court acknowledged that disenfranchisement from primary elections is a denial of voting rights and rectified the situation.

The Court has since continued to expand its conception of state action and ruled that guarantees of equal protection can often apply to private organizations. In 1948, the Court ruled that courts could not uphold contracts that did not allow blacks to purchase homes, because such enforcement counted as state action. It later decided that actions by a private business that leases public property were subject to state action constraints. Later, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned private discrimination on the basis of the Commerce Clause, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 instituted further protections to ensure that no one would be denied the right to vote on account of his or her race. Still, as we barrel toward Iowa and New Hampshire, these cases provide a special insight into the development of primary elections and the application of constitutional guarantees.

Elections for President and Vice President of the U.S. are indirect elections.  The voters cast ballots for electors of the U.S. Electoral College, who in turn directly elect the President and Vice President.

Presidential elections take place quadrennially.  The process is regulated by a combination of both federal and state laws.  Each state is allocated a number of Electoral College electors equal to the number of its senators and representatives in the U.S. Congress.

The President is vested with the executive power of the nation.  The presidential election and the vital character of its relationship to and effect upon the welfare and safety of the whole people is an important matter and Congress possesses power to pass appropriate legislation to safeguard such an election from the improper use of money to influence the result.

Presidential electors are officers of the state and not federal officers.  Presidential electors exercise a federal function in balloting for President and Vice-President but they are not federal officers or agents any more than the state elector who votes for a congressmen.  They act by authority of the state that in turn receives its authority from the Federal Constitution.

By the Constitution of the U.S., the electors for President and Vice President in each state are appointed by the state in such manner as its legislature may direct.  Their number is equal to the whole number of senators and representatives to which the state is entitled in Congress.  The sole function of the presidential electors is to cast, certify, and transmit the vote of the state for President and Vice President of the nation.

Reasonable regulation of elections does not require voters to espouse positions that they do not support; it does require them to act in a timely fashion if they wish to express their views in the voting booth.

The right to vote is the right to participate in an electoral process that is necessarily structured to maintain the integrity of the democratic system.  The right of individuals to associate for the advancement of political beliefs and the right of qualified voters, regardless of their political persuasion, to cast their votes effectively, ranks among the most precious freedoms.

However, the state has a right to require candidates to make a preliminary showing of substantial support in order to qualify for a place on the ballot, because it is both wasteful and confusing to encumber the ballot with the names of frivolous candidates.

The state also has the right to prevent distortion of the electoral process by the device of party raiding, the organized switching of blocs of voters from one party to another in order to manipulate the outcome of the other party’s primary election.

How to Become President of the United States

The U.S. Constitution’s Requirements for a Presidential Candidate:

  • At least 35 years old
  • A natural born citizen of the United States
  • A resident of the United States for 14 years

Step 1: Primaries and Caucuses

There are many people who want to be president. Each of these people have their own ideas about how our government should work.  People with similar ideas belong to the same political party. This is where primaries and caucuses come in. Candidates from each political party campaign throughout the country to win the favor of their party members.

  • Caucus: In a caucus, party members select the best candidate through a series of discussions and votes.
  • Primary: In a primary, party members vote for the best candidate that will represent them in the general election.

Step 2: National Conventions

Each party holds a national convention to finalize the selection of one presidential nominee. At each convention, the presidential candidate chooses a running-mate (vice presidential candidate).

Step 3: General Election

The presidential candidates campaign throughout the country in an attempt to win the support of the general population.

People in every state across the country vote for one president and one vice president. When people cast their vote, they are actually voting for a group of people known as electors.

Step 4: Electoral College

In the Electoral College system, each state gets a certain number of electors based on its total number of representatives in Congress.

Each elector casts one electoral vote following the general election; there are a total of 538 electoral votes. The candidate that gets more than half (270) wins the election.

The president-elect and vice president-elect take the oath of office and are inaugurated in January.


  • Caucus: A meeting of the local members of a political party to select delegates to the national party convention. A caucus is a substitute for a primary election.
  • Delegate: A person authorized to represent others as an elected representative to a political party conference.
  • Elector: A member of the electoral college.
  • Electoral College: The voters of each state, and the District of Columbia, vote for electors to be the authorized constitutional members in a presidential election.
  • Natural Born Citizen: Someone born with U.S. citizenship includes any child born “in” the United States, the children of United States citizens born abroad, and those born abroad of one citizen parent.
  • Primary: An election where voters select candidates for an upcoming general election. Winning candidates will have delegates sent to the national party convention as their party’s U.S. presidential nominee.

Electoral College

Map of the U.S. showing the number of electoral college votes by state.

In other U.S. elections, candidates are elected directly by popular vote. But the president and vice president are not elected directly by citizens. Instead, they’re chosen by “electors” through a process called the Electoral College.

The process of using electors comes from the Constitution. It was a compromise between a popular vote by citizens and a vote in Congress.     Open All +

  • The Electors
  • How Does the Electoral College Process Work?
  • Special Situations
  • How to Change the Electoral College

Presidential Primaries and Caucuses

Before the general election, most candidates for president go through a series of state primaries and caucuses. Though primaries and caucuses are run differently, they both serve the same purpose. They let the states choose the major political parties’ nominees for the general election.

How to Vote By Mail

  • You must request a vote-by-mail ballot for each election unless you have permanent vote-by-mail voter status.
  • You may: request a vote-by-mail ballot on the form provided by your County Elections Official. …
  • The request must be received by your County Elections Official between 29 and 7 days before the election. …
  • You will be mailed your proper ballot.

Why vote by Mail?

As coronavirus rates continue to spike in many areas across the US, most states are making it easier to vote by mail in local elections as well as the upcoming presidential election on Nov. 3. But each state has its own rules for mail-in or absentee voting. Many are still in the process of deciding how to handle voting during the pandemic. And with different terms getting thrown around, it can be difficult to figure out what all of the different options actually mean. 

Here’s what you need to know about the different voting options available to you on election day and how to find out what your state is doing. 

What is absentee voting? 

Every US state allows mail-in, absentee voting, but typically only under certain circumstances. For example, in the past, many states only allowed you to get an absentee ballot if you were deployed with the US armed forces, were going to be out of town on Election Day or were ill. Amid the pandemic, however, at least 35 states have changed their mail-in absentee voting policies, allowing all voters to apply for an absentee ballot to cut down on the risk of spreading the virus. Some states are calling the expanded criteria for absentee voting “no-excuse absentee voting,” a term that indicates you don’t need to explain why you want an absentee ballot as you have in the past — but you’ll still need to fill out an application and request one, either online or through mail. However, other states have decided to automatically send every citizen an absentee ballot or a form to fill out to request one. That’s when we start to see the term mail-in voting — as opposed to absentee voting — used to refer to a wider policy of absentee voting for all. If you’re in the US, you must be registered to vote before you’re eligible to get an absentee ballot. (You can register to vote online in 40 states and the District of Columbia.) But if you’re currently overseas or a military member, you have some other options. 

What is mail-in voting? 

The terms absentee voting and mail-in voting are often used interchangeably. However, some election officials have started using the term “mail-in ballots” or “vote by mail” because they’re expanding absentee ballot eligibility during the pandemic to include people who aren’t actually absent from their precinct at the time of voting. In a number of states, including California, Delaware and Illinois, ballots will automatically be mailed to every eligible voter without request or application needed, so some election officials are using the terms “all-mail voting” or “universal vote by mail.” Still, a limited number of polling places will likely be available for those who want to vote in person. Ultimately, when states talk about mail-in voting, they’re talking broadly about all ballots that are sent through the mail. In some states, this could mean all of the no-excuse absentee ballots. In others, it could mean all of the universal vote by mail ballots. So different states may use different terms.

So what’s the real difference between absentee ballots and mail-in voting?

Typically, absentee ballots refer to ballots that are requested and then mailed when a person can’t vote in person. Mail-in ballots refer to ballots in the context of policies that allow all people to vote by mail. 

Will my mail-in ballot count toward the final election result? 

Yes. All votes are counted in local or presidential elections, whether you cast a ballot in person or by mail. A common myth is that absentee ballots are only counted during tight races, but this isn’t correct. Many elections have a clear winner and mailed-in ballots, many of which are from abroad, are sometimes counted in the days after, which gives the impression they weren’t included in the count. The final tally, however, does reflect mail-in ballots. As mail-in voting becomes more popular, they will be more integral to upcoming election results, Vote.org noted. Election officials also say it’s nearly impossible to commit voter fraud by mail. On Sept. 3, the US Department of Homeland issued an intelligence bulletin warning that Russia is likely to continue amplifying criticisms of vote-by-mail processes to undermine public trust in the US electoral process. It’s important to note that mail-in ballots — both traditional absentee ballots and widespread vote-by-mail ballots — can be rejected. In the 2016 presidential election, missing or unverified signatures, and late arrivals were the most common reasons a ballot wouldn’t be counted, according to a US Election Assistance Commission report. Make sure you read the directions on your ballot carefully and fill it out correctly. And when applicable, check your state’s deadlines for requesting or mailing an absentee ballot to make sure you get it sent in time. 

What other types of voting are there?

Other types of voting include:

In-person voting: This is what you usually think of during an election: People going to a local polling location to cast their vote in person on Election Day or before.  Early voting:Most states allow qualified voters to cast a ballot in person during a designated time before Election Day. Early voting could begin as early as 45 days before an election, or as late as the week before. The goal is usually to increase voter turnout and decrease congestion at the polls on Election Day. Find out if your state offers early voting by searching for your state election office here.

You’re registered to vote and have everything you need to cast your ballot on Election Day, like an ID card — but do you know where your polling place is this year? Due to the coronavirus pandemic, your usual polling location may be somewhere else to better accommodate your county’s social distancing protocols. If you’d like to avoid the polls this year, you can send your ballot by mail (here’s how it works for your state). You can also choose to vote early at your polling place to avoid the long lines. What you shouldn’t do, however, is attempt to vote by mail and cast a ballot in-person, because double voting is a federal, and often local, crime punishable by fine and/or incarceration.


constitutioncenter.org, “Who controls primary elections, and who gets to vote?” by Jonathan Stahl; elections.uslegal.com, “Regulation Of Elections,” by USLegal editors; usa.gov, “Presidential Election Process,” cnet.com, “Mail-in voting versus absentee voting: Differences to know before Election Day,” By Alison DeNisco Raome; the hill.com, “Here’s where your state stands on mail-in voting,” By J. Edward Moreno;


Mail in Voting Practices by state:

Five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah — currently conduct elections almost entirely by mail. 

The rest of the states can be divided into two categories: those that allow any registered voter to apply for mail-in ballots, and those that require an excuse. 

Increasing voting by mail also comes at a cost for states. Though the CARES Act allocated $400 million in election assistance for states, experts say more is required, even as states face budget fallouts spurred by the sudden economic crisis. 

Here is where all the states currently fall on mail-in voting:

All mail-in voting

These states automatically send all registered voters mail-in ballots:  

Colorado: Colorado has been sending all registered voters mail-in ballots since 2013.  

Hawaii: Hawaii will move to an all-mail election system this year for the first time, starting with its Aug. 8 primary, followed by the Nov. 3 general election. 

OregonOregon has been processing mail-in ballots longer than any other state, and in 2000 became the first state to conduct a presidential election completely by mail.   

Utah: Of the states that primarily vote through the mail, Utah is the only one that leans Republican. Sen. Mitt Romney (R) has used his state as an example to push back on claims from the president that voting by mail disadvantages Republicans.

Utah typically allows people to vote in-person if they choose, but the June 30 primary will be counted entirely by mail-in and drop-off voting due to the coronavirus pandemic. Plans for the Nov. 3 general election have not yet been finalized. 

Washington: Every registered voter in Washington receives a mail-in ballot prior to an election.  

No-excuse mail-in voting

These are states where you can apply for a mail-in ballot and do not need an excuse: 

Alaska: Voters in Alaska do not need to cite a reason for why they choose to vote absentee. The Alaska state legislature in March passed a law that gives Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer (R) the power to host all mail-in elections throughout 2020.  

However, in May Meyer announced that the state’s August primary election and November election are on track to take place as usual, with extra sanitary precautions. 

Arizona: Arizona voters do not need an excuse to vote through the mail, and according to the Arizona Secretary of State site, most residents already do. 

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) announced in March that the state is sending mail-in voting applications to every registered voter in light of the pandemic.  

California: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced in May that the state would be sending mail-in ballots to every registered voter in the state, a decision that’s been challenged by the state’s Republican Party. 

District of Columbia: Voters in Washington, D.C., can request a mail-in ballot without citing an excuse.  

The District’s Board of Elections has begun encouraging mail-in voting to avoid long lines at polling locations, as was the case during their primary election on June 2 because some voters didn’t receive absentee ballots in time, NPR reported

Florida: Voters who live in Florida can vote absentee without having to cite an excuse. Trump, who changed his residency from New York to Florida last year, has used Florida’s mail-in voting system.

Priorities USA, a Democratic super PAC, filed a lawsuit against the state demanding it relax voting laws. The group is asking the state to accept ballots sent by election day, instead of the current policy requiring the ballots to be received by election day, and argues the postage required to send the ballot amounts to a poll tax.

Georgia: Georgia election officials sent absentee ballot request forms to the state’s 6.9 million registered voters for the June 9 primary. 

Voters in Georgia don’t need to cite a reason for wanting to vote absentee. They can request their ballot up to 180 days before an election.

Idaho: Any registered voter in Idaho can apply for mail-in voting.  

Secretary of State Lawrence Denney (R) has said that although the state has seen an increase applications for absentee ballots, it does not anticipate moving to an all-mail system anytime soon. 

Illinois: Registered voters in Illinois do not need an excuse to vote absentee. Last month, the state legislature passed a bill that would expand mail-in voting by sending ballot applications to any voter who applied for an official ballot in the 2018 general election, the 2019 municipal elections or the March 2020 primary.

Iowa: Any registered voter in Iowa qualifies for mail-in voting

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) announced Wednesday that the state’s June 2 primary saw record-breaking turnout after he decided to mail absentee ballot request forms to every registered voter and extend the early voting period for mailed ballots from 29 days to 40 days.

Kansas: Voters in Kansas do not need an excuse to request a mail-in ballot.

Local election officials can decide whether to send mail-in ballot applications to all voters or only those who request them. Kansans are requesting mail-in ballots for the August primary and November general election at record rates.

Maine: All registered voters in Maine can request an absentee ballot

Maryland: All registered voters in Maryland are able to request absentee ballots.

In an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the state planned to send every registered voter a mail-in ballot for the June 2 primary election. According to The Washington Post, at least a million of those were delayed.

Michigan: All registered voters in Michigan are eligible for mail-in voting. Last month the state invested $4.5 million in sending 7.7 million registered voters mail-in ballot applications ahead of the August primary and November general election. 

That prompted Trump to threaten to withhold federal funding from Michigan, claiming incorrectly the secretary of state had sent ballots — not ballot applications — to voters and had done so illegally.

Minnesota: All registered voters in Minnesota are eligible to vote by mail. 

Democratic Gov. Tim Walz has said he favors expanding mail-in voting in the state and is considering the “next steps” before the state’s Aug. 11 primary and the Nov. 3 presidential election. 

Montana: All registered voters in Montana are able to vote by mail

This year the Montana secretary of state decided the state’s June 2 primary would be primarily by mail, and the state saw record-breaking turnout.

However, it’s still unclear if the general election will be held the same way since the governor’s state of emergency expires in July.  

Nebraska: Any registered voter in Nebraska is eligible to vote by mail

The state broke records for voter turnout in its May 12 primary. 

Nevada: Nevada will have an all mail-in election for its June 9 primary as part of a temporary rule the state put in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus. A state court has decided that it will not rule on lawsuits challenging the temporary policy until July, so until then it is not clear to what extent Nevada voters will be able to vote through the mail or in-person in the November presidential election. 

Before the temporary rule, Nevada registered voters were able to obtain an absentee ballot without having to provide an excuse. 

New Jersey: Any registered voter in New Jersey is eligible to vote by mail

The state held its first completely mail-in election in May, which had greater turnout but saw delayed results. Election officials in the state are preparing for another primarily mail-in election for their July 7 primary.

New Mexico: All registered voters in New Mexico qualify to vote by mail. This year every eligible voter was sent an application without having to request one.  

North Carolina: Any registered voter in North Carolina is eligible for mail-in voting

The state legislature passed a bill last week that would divert funds to make it easier for people to vote by mail as the state anticipates higher turnout by mail in upcoming elections. 

North Dakota: All registered voters in North Dakota are able to vote by mail in the state’s June 9 election.

An injunction granted Wednesday by a federal judge bars North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger and other election officials from rejecting any mail-in ballot on the basis of a “signature mismatch” without having in place adequate notice and remedy procedures. 

Ohio: Though every registered voter in Ohio is able to vote by mail, the Democrats in the state legislature and Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose disagree on how to proceed with the general election. 

Democrats introduced legislation that would increase voting by mail and LaRose has proposed extending early voting to avoid close contact at polls.  

Oklahoma: The Oklahoma state legislature passed a bill that allows all voters in the 2020 elections that meet certain coronavirus-related criteria to cite “physically incapacitated” as a reason to vote by mail.

State and county election officials have seen an influx of people requesting absentee ballots this year for the state’s June 30 primary, the Oklahoman reports.

Pennsylvania: Most Pennsylvania voters who participated in the June 2 primary did so by mail, which led to delayed results, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. 

The state legislature passed a law allowing anyone who votes by mail in the primary to easily request a mail-in ballot for the November election.

South Dakota: This year South Dakota sent mail-in ballot applications to all registered voters in the state for the June 2 primary, which resulted in record-breaking numbers of mail-in ballots, the Argus Leader reported.  

Vermont: All voters in Vermont can request a mail-in ballot. 

The state legislature is poised to pass a bill that would give Vermont’s Democratic Secretary of State Jim Condos unilateral authority to expand mail-in voting without approval from Republican Gov. Phil Scott.

Condos and Democrats in the state legislature are seeking to send every registered voter in the state a returnable ballot for the November presidential election, the VTDigger reports. 

Virginia: Under current law, Virginians must list a state-authorized reason for why they cannot vote in person. But a law passed this year that will take effect in July allows voters to cast absentee ballots without any formal excuse.

Last month a federal judge in Virginia denied a request from voters seeking to challenge the state’s newly passed absentee voting legislation.  

Wisconsin: Voters in Wisconsin are eligible for mail-in voting without having to provide an excuse. In May, the Wisconsin Elections Commission approved a plan to send absentee ballot applications to more than 2.7 million registered voters, whether or not they requested one. 

Wyoming: Voters in Wyoming don’t need to cite a reason for wanting to vote absentee.

Excuse required for absentee voting

These are states where you can apply for a mail-in ballot but must list an excuse for why you are not voting in person: 

Alabama: In Alabama you can apply for a mail-in ballot if you are away from the state, ill, are working a shift greater than 10 hours on a polling day, are a caregiver or incarcerated. 

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R) tweeted at the president last month assuring him that the state would not move toward having direct mail-in voting, as others have amid the pandemic. 

Arkansas: In Arkansas you can apply for an absentee ballot if you are disabled, ill, away from home, or “Uniformed Services, merchant marines or the spouse or a dependent family member and are away from your polling location due to the member’s active duty status.”

Connecticut: In Connecticut you can vote by mail if you are out of town, sick or disabled, in the military, or if your “religious beliefs prevent you from performing secular activities like voting on Election Day.”

Last month Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill (D) said the state will send out absentee ballot applications to every registered voter in the state and pay the postage for their ballots. 

Merrill is pushing the state legislature to add “a global pandemic” to the list of reasons somebody can vote by mail. 

Delaware: In Delaware, voters can vote by mail if they are out of town, sick or disabled, have a religious commitment or are in the armed services. This year the state will be sending absentee voting applications to all registered voters.  

Gov. John Carney’s (D) state of emergency order includes a measure that allows voters concerned about the coronavirus to qualify as “sick” or “physically disabled,” allowing them to vote absentee. Voters in Delaware can also request an absentee ballot online. 

Indiana: Despite Indiana amending its mail-in voting rules to allow all registered voters to qualify for mail-in voting in the June 2 primary, IndyStar reported many still opted to vote in person.

Outside a pandemic, voters in Indiana could qualify for mail-in voting if they are 65 or older, disabled or sick, have a religious commitment, are a member of the military or a public safety officer, can’t find transportation to a polling station or are designated as a “serious sex offender” by the state. 

Kentucky: The state announced in April that due to the coronavirus pandemic, any registered voter is eligible to vote absentee for elections happening this year, but voters normally need to provide a reason when requesting a ballot. 

Louisiana: Louisiana voters can vote by mail if they are out of town, sick or disabled, have a religious commitment, are in the armed services, are incarcerated or have jury duty.

In May the state legislature rejected a bill that would have expanded mail-in voting.

Massachusetts: Under Massachusetts law, anyone who is disabled, out of town on Election Day, or has a religious belief preventing them from voting at their polling place can qualify for mail-in voting.

The state legislature passed a bill this year adding that any person taking precautions related to COVID-19 can also qualify for mail-in voting this year.

Mississippi: Voters in Mississippi can vote by mail if they are above 65, if they are sick or disabled, have work conflicts, are away from home or have educational commitments.

Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson (R) has opposed expanded mail-in elections, but said voters can apply for a mail-in ballot claiming “temporary illness” and it would be up to local election officials to approve it or not.

Missouri: Voters in Missouri can qualify for mail-in voting if they are out of town, sick or disabled, have a religious commitment or are in the armed services. 

The state legislature passed a bill that would allow anyone with a notary’s signature to qualify for mail-in voting, but it awaits the governor’s signature and would only apply to the state’s August election and the November presidential election. 

New Hampshire: Voters in New Hampshire can qualify for mail-in voting if they are sick, disabled, in the military, out of town, have a religious commitment or working during polling hours. 

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced in April that any registered voter will be allowed to vote mail-in throughout the end of the year.

New York: Voters in New York can request a mail-in ballot if they are away from home on Election Day, if they are ill or disabled, a resident of a veteran’s hospital or incarcerated. 

In April, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed an executive order that requires election officials to send mail-in ballot applications to all eligible voters, including inactive voters, for this year’s June 23 primary and Nov. 3 general elections.

Any voter is able to cite “temporary illness” as a reason for voting by mail during the pandemic.

Rhode Island: Rhode Island lists several excuses to vote absentee, but also gives the option to choose “No specific reason necessary.” The state’s June 2 primary had widespread use of mail-in ballots, with election officials reducing the number of polling locations in the state from about 180 to 47. 

South Carolina: Voters in South Carolina can vote absentee if they are out of town, sick or disabled, have a religious commitment or are in the armed services. 

The state legislature voted in early May to allow anyone to vote absentee during the 2020 elections during the pandemic.

Tennessee: On Thursday a Tennessee court ruled the state must make absentee voting available to every eligible voter for all elections in 2020, including the Aug. 6 primary and Nov. 3 general election.

Outside of that ruling, only people who are sick, disabled, traveling or elderly or eligible for mail-in voting.

Texas: The Texas Supreme Court ruled last week that being afraid of contracting the coronavirus alone is not a “disability” and therefore all self-identified able-bodied people living in the state must gather at a polling location. However, Texas voters are still able to self-identify as disabled without having to produce evidence. 

West Virginia:  In West Virginia, voters are eligible for mail-in voting if they are disabled or ill, are working a shift greater than 10 hours on a polling day, are a caregiver or incarcerated.


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