Cover Story - Special Section
Far from home on Election Day?
You can still have your say

One vote can be the difference in the outcome of a race or issue that is important to you. Even if you’re on the road on Election Day, you can still vote and help set the course on national, state and local issues. Many states allow advance voting and mail-in ballots in addition to the traditional absentee ballots. Your local elections office or secretary of state’s office should have the specific details for your area.

Absentee voting

In most states, to vote by absentee ballot, you must:

  • Request an absentee ballot from the appropriate election official – deadlines to request ballots vary by state;
  • Receive your ballot – which can be tricky for truckers on the road. Absentee ballots are usually mailed to voters up to 30 days before each election. But if you don’t time it right, you won’t be home to receive it and send it back in on time;
  • Return your ballot by the deadline – again, deadlines vary from state to state, but no matter what state, if you miss the deadline, your vote will not be counted.

According to the Federal Election Commission, absentee ballots – or 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 telephone book.

Early voting

Some type of early voting is offered in at least 35 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.

Other states allow voters to cast ballots by mail. Oregon runs its elections entirely by mail, and Washington state offers that option to its county election commissioners, so Washington residents should check with their home counties to find out whether they can vote by mail.

The time periods for early voting vary from state to state, but most often it is available up to two weeks before Election Day. LL


For information on obtaining an absentee ballot or to find out if your state offers early voting, contact your local elections office or secretary of state ’s office. See the state-by-state contact info here.