The Clock Is Ticking On Absentee Ballots

If you're living a significant distance away from the state you're registered in, or if you're unable to physically make it to the polls tomorrow for another reason, you might be wondering if it's too late to vote with an absentee ballot. The answer is: It depends where you live and how quickly you take action. All states except California, New York, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, and West Virginia require that absentee ballots either arrive at where they'll be counted or be postmarked by Nov. 8; the deadlines for requesting an absentee ballot have passed in all of these states, however.

Below are all the states where voters may still have a chance to vote absentee.

  • Alaska: You can request your ballot online or through fax by Nov. 7, 7 p.m. AKST. It must be postmarked by Nov. 8. Since the requirement here is that your ballot be postmarked rather than received by Election Day, this is one of the most forgiving states for absentee voters.
  • Colorado: As long as you registered to vote at least eight days before Election Day, you will automatically receive a ballot in the mail, so the state doesn't have a deadline for ballot requests. Your ballot must, however, arrive by 7 p.m. MST on Nov. 8. If you are voting from overseas, your ballot must be postmarked by Election Day and received by Nov. 16.
  • Illinois: The deadline for mailed absentee ballot requests in Illinois was Nov. 3, however the deadline for in-person requests is Nov. 7. The ballot must be received by Nov. 8.
  • Minnesota: It is "recommended but not required" that absentees send their ballot requests by Nov. 7 in Minnesota. Ballots need to be received by Nov. 8, 8 p.m. CST.
  • New Hampshire: Those hoping to vote absentee in NH must request their ballots by Nov. 7, 5 p.m. The return deadline is on Election Day at the same time.
  • South Dakota: This state's rules are the same as New Hampshire's.
  • Vermont: Another state where the request deadline is Nov. 7, and the deadline for ballots to be received is the following day.
  • Washington: All Washington state voters receive their ballots through the mail, so there is no procedure for requesting absentee ballots. All votes must be received by Election Day, however.
  • Wyoming: Wyoming residents can request their absentee ballots in person by Nov. 7. Votes must be received by the following day.

As you can see, the time available between many of these states' request and return deadlines is extremely slim. In some cases, it might be impossible to send a request, receive a ballot, and return it by Election Day, but you never know until you try. My suggestion? Pay top dollar for the quickest shipping option out there.