What’s the Difference Between Absentee and Mail-In Voting?

What's the Difference Between Absentee and Mail-In Voting?

(TargetLiberty.org) – As COVID-19 continues to spike in many parts of the country, states are having to deal with the prospect of millions of people voting through the mail in November. Each state has its own rules for absentee and mail-in voting. Do you know the difference between the two?

Many people use the terms “absentee voting” and “mail-in voting” interchangeably. While they both involve sending a ballot through the mail, they are, indeed, two different things.

So, What Is Absentee Voting?

Every state in the US allows absentee voting by mail. However, it’s usually only under certain circumstances. Before the coronavirus pandemic, most states permitted absentee voting for people deployed with the military, those who are out of town, and people who are sick.

But now because of the virus, at least 35 states have changed their policies regarding absentee voting. Many now have what they call “no-excuse absentee voting,” which means you can get an absentee ballot without any specific reason.

The thing that makes absentee voting more secure than mail-in voting is that people have to go the extra step of requesting the absentee ballot. Once you request it, the state will mail one to you. You will then fill it out and mail it back.

The problem is, several states are just automatically sending ballots to every voter, without a request for one. This is what President Trump is referring to when he talks about corrupt universal mail-in voting.

You can use this federal tool to find your state’s current absentee voting laws.

Then, What Is Mail-In Voting?

One of the complaints about mail-in voting or “vote by mail” is that states are expanding eligibility requirements to receive an absentee ballot during the pandemic. Now in many states, voters don’t need an excuse at all; they just need to request the ballot.

What many on the Right object to is universally sending out ballots to all eligible voters without a request or application. Several states will be doing that this fall, including Illinois, Delaware, and California.

Generally speaking, when the states refer to mail-in voting, they’re speaking broadly about any ballot sent through the mail. Sometimes that means no-excuse absentee voting, and sometimes it means universal ballots being sent out to every voter. It’s important to distinguish between them.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that mail-in voting and absentee voting are two similar, but different, processes. Absentee voting requires voters to request ballots. Universal mail-in voting occurs when a state sends out unsolicited ballots to everyone.

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