Politics2020 Election


Vote Smarter 2020: Do You Need An Excuse To Vote By Mail?

Newsy's Vote Smarter 2020 aims to provide you with all the information you'll need to safely and successfully cast your ballot this year.
Posted at 1:01 PM, Oct 07, 2020

Do you need an excuse to vote by mail?

"There's about 16 states where an excuse is required, and those excuses can range from, you're a certain age or older, you are sick on Election Day, you plan on being out of the jurisdiction. So there are a whole wide range of excuses by state for requesting those ballots," said Matthew Weil, the director of the Election Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center. 

About half the states amended their election rules this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, and many of those changes were made to expand absentee voting options.

"And then there are other states where this year they have changed the rules. So you don't need an excuse. You just need to ask for a mail ballot, or your excuse can be I'm concerned about my health in the pandemic," said Bob Brandon, the president of the Fair Elections Center.

A vast majority of Americans can choose to vote at home, if they want. But in five states, fear of COVID-19 is not an acceptable excuse to request a mail-in ballot. 

"Texas is by far the biggest and most politically competitive state where you have to have an excuse to vote by mail that goes beyond fear of COVID-19 or fear of going to vote in person," said David Hawkings, the editor-in-chief of The Fulcrum.