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How to Submit an Absentee Ballot

It's Election Day, but you're far, far away from home. If you want to get to the polls without actually being at the polls, you'll need to file an absentee ballot.


  • Step 1: Register to vote You've got a candidate you love, you'll be 18 by Election Day, and you dig democracy. To make your political opinion official, you'll need to register to vote, so if you haven't already signed up, visit websites like or to find out how.
  • Step 2: Investigate the requirements In Georgia, your absentee ballot has to be in before the polls close; Iowa will let you vote 40 days before the election. Since each state has different rules, make sure you know which regulations apply to you by visiting your state’s election commission website, or sites like and
  • TIP: If you're in the military or you're a U.S. citizen living abroad, contact the Overseas Vote Foundation for more information on absentee ballots.
  • Step 3: File the ballot application In this awesome age of technology, almost every state has a downloadable ballot application form. Simply print out the application from your state's website and follow the submission instructions.
  • TIP: As an alternative, contact your county clerk or board of elections for an application.
  • Step 4: Complete the ballot When you submit your application, you can select how you'd like to receive your absentee ballot -- through the mail, using a third party, or by one of the many other options. Once you receive your ballot, follow the instructions, pick your candidate, and return it as indicated.
  • FACT: If you've been convicted of a crime or are currently in jail, you may still be able to vote. Go to "": for a complete list of state-by-state criteria for eligibility.

You Will Need

  • To be 18 on or before Election Day
  • Absentee ballot application
  • Postage

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