What is Early Voting? FAQs on Casting Your Ballot Before Election Day

All your pressing questions about early voting answered here. 

What is early voting?
Early voting is when a state allows registered voters to cast their ballot before Election Day. Early voting can usually be done either in person or by casting an absentee ballot.

Does my state offer early voting?
Early voting rules vary per state. Be sure to check out your state’s options and regulations. Thirty-nine states and Washington D.C. offer early voting, but the early voting rules vary per state. For example, if you are registered in Michigan, you can vote 45 days before the election! If you’re registered in Oklahoma, early voting begins five days before the election. Make sure you check your state’s early voting rules.

What are the rules?
The rules around voting can become confusing, especially given that they are different in every state. A perk about in-person early voting is that you don’t need to provide an excuse to vote early in person! This might not be true if your state requires a valid excuse for mail-in voting, so be sure to check your state’s absentee voting rules.

Is Early Voting Week different from voting early?
Some states are promoting Early Voting Week campaigns to encourage more voters to vote early. Check to see if the state you live in has an Early Voting Week campaign and spread awareness about it to your friends and family. The more people know about it, the more likely people will vote early!

Why should I vote early this year?
Early voting reduces burdens on Election Day poll workers. Early voting also reduces wait times on Election Day. The more people who vote early, the less crowded the polls will be! Not only do shorter lines on Election Day alleviate stress for Election Day poll workers, but fewer people crowding polling sites on Election Day is essential to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Does this mean I can vote on the weekends?
Twenty-four states and Washington D.C. offer some early voting on the weekends. Contact your county clerk to learn if there is weekend early voting available in your area.

Does voting early increase voter turn out?
Possibly! According to election experts, early voting will likely increase this election cycle. Nine states already have over 30% of voters using early voting. Make sure you let your friends and family know about the benefits of early voting!

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Voting laws and logistics can change. The dates provided below were updated on 9/16/2020. For most current dates visit vote.org.