How to order an absentee ballot for the midterm elections

The process isn’t too confusing when given the right resources.
Graphic Graphic by Emily Mann

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said Nov. 2 is the last date to request an absentee ballot. The last date to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 31. The Maneater regrets this error.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said Nov. 2 is the last date to request an absentee ballot. The last date to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 31. The Maneater regrets this error.

Hundreds of absentee ballots were rejected in Gwinnett County, Georgia due to a number of issues, the main one being signature mismatches, according to CNN. However, with a federal judge’s recent proposal saying government officials cannot void any ballots because of these mismatches, voters will hopefully be given notices about possible rejection if any problems arise, urging them to resolve the issue within three days of the Election Day.

For people registered to vote who can’t physically go to their polling station on Election Day, voting with an absentee ballot is the best option.

According to the Pew Research Center, over 23.3 million Americans voted via absentee ballot in the 2016 election, so obtaining one isn’t out of the ordinary.

What is an absentee ballot?

An absentee ballot allows people to vote on a paper ballot and mail it to their respective election offices. It’s used for when people are unable to physically go to their polling place.

There’s still enough time before Election Day to order a ballot, receive, fill out and mail it. While the process slightly differs from state to state, there’s a general process people should follow.

How can I get an absentee ballot?

Voters can get a ballot either through ordering one online or going to their home county’s election office and asking for one there. Going in person is by far the easiest process, as they’ll give a step-by-step guide and answer any general questions.

Voters can’t go to the Boone County Clerk’s office to obtain one if they aren’t registered to vote in Boone County. To get a ballot in person, voters must go to their home county’s clerk office.

Googling a state’s name followed by “absentee voting” and whittling down the search results to the state government’s page is another option. From then on, simply follow the government’s directions. However, that process can be a bit confusing, as many government websites lead to endless redirects — also, the rules and procedures for absentee voting are often muddled under small text and outdated website design.

An easier solution

For the sake of time and ease, go to and click on the absentee ballot tab. The site will ask general information questions so it can direct voters towards their state’s absentee website. It’s also recommended to scroll down on that page, look under the “jump directly to your state” section, and click on that state’s link.

They’ll give the state’s specific information regarding absentee voting, such as standards and deadlines. They’ll also give a link to the state’s website about absentee voting. From there, the process widely differs from state to state, but the government websites do give ample direction on where to go.

Is there still enough time?

The answer varies from state to state, as the deadline for casting absentee ballots is different for each state. Most states require absentee ballots to arrive by Election Day or a day before.

For Missouri, the absentee ballot deadline is Election Day. The last day to request a ballot is Oct. 31, the Wednesday before Election Day. It takes about two days for the office to send the ballot and two days to receive the ballot. Voters can go to the election office to vote in-person up until the day before the election.

Edited by Caitlyn Rosen |

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