What is Vote-by-Mail?
Vote-by-mail refers to voting a ballot received by mail or picked up by or for a voter who is unable or unwilling to go to the polls to vote during early voting or Election Day. A voter does not have to be absent from the county of residence or have an excuse in order to vote-by-mail except on Election Day (see details below). A request covers all elections through the end of the calendar year for the second ensuing regularly scheduled general election. To receive a vote-by-mail ballot, the voter or authorized person must contact his or her county Supervisor of Elections.
How to Request a Vote-by-Mail Ballot Be Mailed
A request for a vote-by-mail ballot may be made in one of the following ways:
- Online application on your county Supervisors of Elections' website
- In writing (e.g., by email, fax, mail) to Supervisor of Elections
- In person at Supervisor of Elections
- By telephone call to Supervisor of Elections
If you are making the request, the following information is required:
- The name of the voter for whom the ballot is being requested;
- The voter’s address;
- The voter’s date of birth; and
- The voter’s signature (if the request is written).
If an immediate family member or legal guardian is requesting a vote-by-mail ballot for you, the following additional information must be provided:
- The requestor’s address;
- The requestor’s driver’s license number (if available);
- The requestor’s relationship to the voter; and
- The requestor’s signature (if the request is written).
The deadline to request that a vote-by-mail ballot be mailed is no later than 5 p.m. on the 6th day before the election. However, the ballot must still be received by the Supervisor of Elections no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day if the voted ballot is to count. Exceptions exist for overseas military and civilian voters. See Military and Overseas Citizens Voting for further information.
Who Can Pick Up a Vote-by-Mail Ballot
A voter can pick up or have delivered his or her own vote-by-mail ballot at any time the ballot becomes available, including up to 7 p.m. on Election Day. A voter can also authorize in writing a designee to pick up the ballot for him or her but the earliest the designee can then pick up the ballot is five days before Election Day. A designee is limited to picking up two vote-by-mail ballots per elections (not including his or her own ballot and ballots for immediate family members. Additionally, a designee must submit a completed Affidavit to Pick-up a Vote-by-Mail Ballot for a Voter (DS-DE 37 - English PDF/ Español PDF), which includes the written authorization from the Voter. If there is no request on record, the voter will also have to submit the request part of the Affidavit.
If a voter or designee waits until Election Day to pick up or have delivered a vote-by-mail ballot, the Election Day Vote-by-Mail Ballot Delivery Affidavit (DS-DE 136 - English PDF/ Español PDF) must also be completed in which the voter affirms that he or she has as an emergency that keeps the voter from being able to go his or her assigned polling place instead to vote.
How to Vote a Vote-by-Mail Ballot
Instructions for completing the vote-by-mail ballot are included with the ballot. The voted ballot must be returned and received by the Supervisor of Elections no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day. Other return options are available for Military and Overseas Voters.
If the voter decides to go to the polls to vote instead, the voter should bring the vote-by-mail ballot (whether it has been marked or not). Even if the voter comes to the polls without the vote-by-mail ballot, the voter will still be able to vote a regular ballot if the supervisor of elections' office is able to confirm that it has not received the voter's vote-by-mail ballot. However, if it is confirmed that the voter have already voted a vote-by-mail ballot, the voter cannot vote again at the polls. If the voter believes or insists that the supervisor of elections' office is wrong about receiving the vote-by-mail ballot or if the supervisor of elections' office cannot confirm that the voter has already voted an vote-by-mail ballot, the voter is allowed to vote a provisional ballot.
How to Correct a Missing or Mismatched Signature on Your Vote-by-Mail Ballot
If you forgot to sign your vote-by-mail ballot certificate when you returned your ballot, or you get information that your signature on the certificate did not match your registration record, you have the opportunity to correct the situation. You will have to complete and return a “Vote-by-Mail Ballot Cure” Affidavit, Form DS-DE 139 (English PDF / Español PDF) and a copy of identification. The deadline to submit the form and the ID is no later than 5 p.m. on the day before an election. Failure to follow the instructions carefully may cause your ballot not to count.
How to Track Your Vote-by-Mail Ballot Request and Returned Ballot
Any voter who has requested a vote-by-mail ballot can track online the status of his or her ballot through a link within the Division of Elections' Voter Information Lookup or through their county Supervisor of Elections' website.