Eight states—Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Washington—are holding statewide elections this year. Rules governing who can return completed absentee/mail-in ballots vary by state. Absentee/mail-in voting is voting that does not happen in person on Election Day but instead occurs another way, usually by mail. All states allow for some form of absentee/mail-in voting.
For example, in Mississippi and 12 other states, there are state laws specifically listing the individuals who are allowed to return a voter’s completed ballot. Typically, those individuals include the voter’s family members or caregivers, U.S. postal workers, and election officials. Completed absentee/mail-in ballots must be postmarked or mailed by Election Day in Mississippi for the primary, general, and runoff elections.
In Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and 20 other states, voters are allowed to choose the person they want to return their completed ballot. Typically, this person is required to sign a statement confirming that they have authorization to return the ballot on behalf of the voter. However, in Pennsylvania, the voter is the one who signs a statement authorizing someone else to return the ballot.
Louisiana is the only state holding statewide elections this year that requires completed absentee/mail-in ballots to be received before Election Day. In order to be counted, these ballots must be received by Louisiana election officials at least one day prior to the primary and general elections. Kentucky, New Jersey, and Virginia require completed absentee/mail-in ballots to be received by each Election Day. Pennsylvania requires these ballots to be postmarked by each Election Day instead.
The table below shows the absentee/mail-in return deadlines for statewide primary and general elections this year: