ELECTION 2017: Election Day and you're on the job? Vote ahead

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, September 25, 2017

Driving over the road on Nov. 7, Election Day, is not a reason to sacrifice your right to vote. This fall you can still make your voice heard back home and help set the course on issues at the state and local levels of government. One year from now federal races will again dominate ballots.

All states allow advance voting. It’s a perfect setup for professional drivers. Some states allow mail-in ballots, commonly referred to as absentee ballots. Other states allow voting in person at locations leading up to Election Day. This is known as early voting. Some states even conduct certain, if not all, elections by mail. Your local elections office or secretary of state’s office should have details.

Even if no issue on your local ballot impassions you this fall, go ahead and get set up for absentee or early voting so that you are ready – in advance – for the fall 2018 election.

Absentee voting
More than half of all states offer “no-excuse” absentee voting – meaning you do not have to give a reason why you want to cast an absentee ballot. Other states either allow permanent no-excuse absentee voting or allow voters to cast absentee ballots only under a limited set of circumstances.

Absentee ballots – or even permanent absentee ballots – can be requested by contacting a county clerk, county auditor, county registrar or supervisor of elections, or the board of elections – depending on the state. Phone numbers for those offices should be in the government pages of your local phone book or on the official state website.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nine states make available permanent absentee ballots for at least certain voters. States with permanent absentee ballots available for some voters:

  • Alaska
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Kansas
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • New York
  • West Virginia

Eight states offer permanent absentee ballots for any voter. Those states:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • Utah

Early voting
Some type of early voting is offered in 37 states. It allows voters to simply decide to vote early.

No-excuse early voting differs from absentee voting. Voters may visit an election official’s office – or in some states other satellite voting locations – and cast ballots in person.

The time periods for early voting vary by state. The average starting time for early voting is about three weeks before Election Day.

Mail voting
Colorado, Oregon and Washington run their elections entirely by mail. The process is used to send a ballot to every registered voter prior to Election Day. In addition, 18 states allow certain elections to be conducted by mail.

For information on getting an absentee ballot or to find out if your state offers early voting, contact your local elections office or secretary of state’s office. You can also visit them on the internet. See the state-by-state contact information.

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