Absentee voting allows you to vote by mail. Though every state has absentee voting, rules on who can take part vary.
Military and Overseas Voters
Overseas U.S. citizens who used to live in the U.S. can vote absentee.
U.S. citizens born abroad who have never resided in the U.S. may not be able to vote absentee. It depends on the rules of the state where the person’s parent or legal guardian last resided.
Register and Request an Absentee Ballot in One Step
If you are a military or overseas U.S. citizen, you can register to vote and request an absentee ballot in one step. Use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA).
You must know your voting residence for this.
If you're an overseas citizen, your voting residence is the address in the state you last resided in the U.S.
You can use this address even if:
You no longer own property in that state.
You’re not sure whether you’re going to return to that state.
Your previous address is no longer a recognized residential address.
If you're a military or military family member, your voting residence should be in the state listed on your Leave and Earnings Statement. It is not necessarily your home of record.
Submit Your Application As Soon As Possible
Whether you’re in the military or are an overseas U.S. citizen, you should submit your FCPA as soon as possible. You need to get your absentee ballot in time to return it by your state's deadline. But if you don’t, you can use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot to vote.
Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program to learn more.
Other Citizens: Check With Your State to Vote By Mail or Absentee Ballot
If you're not a military or overseas voter, you must get your absentee ballot from your state or territory. Every state’s voting rules are different. This includes the rules for who can vote by mail and how to get an absentee or mail-in ballot.
Visit your state or territorial election office website and look for “Absentee Voting” or “Voting By Mail.” If you don’t see either term , try using the site’s search tool.
Your state may require you to have a valid excuse to vote absentee. Acceptable excuses vary by state. Most include:
Being unable to get to your polling place due to illness, injury, or disability.
Being on business travel or vacation outside of your county or city of residence on Election Day
Being a student at an out-of-state college or university
This National Conference of State Legislatures table shows which states require an excuse.
Follow your state’s instructions for requesting an absentee or vote-by-mail ballot.