15 States That Have Recently Expanded Access to Voting By Mail

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Voting by mail (Image: George Frey/Getty Images)


Who needs some good news about voting by mail?

There has been an incredible surge of states changing their election rules in response to the pandemic. Millions and millions of voters will be able to cast their votes this year differently than they have been able to in the past. I’ve collected a whole bunch of updates for you, indicating decisions that have been made.

Also, I need to tell you that there are SO MANY LAWSUITS right now. On both sides. Lawsuits to expand voters’ ability to vote safely and knocking down barriers, and lawsuits to stop those advances.

Let’s get caught up on what’s happened recently:


Arkansas normally requires an excuse to vote by mail/absentee, but Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said he’ll waive that requirement for the November elections if the pandemic is still an emergency at that point.


Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed an executive order to ensure that every registered voter automatically received a ballot in the mail for the November election.


Secretary of State Denise Merrill (D) announced that she will send all registered voters absentee ballot applications for the August primaries and November election.


Gov. John Carney (D) issued an executive order to allow absentee ballot applications to be mailed to all registered voters for the presidential primary in July.


Gov. Andy Beshear (D) and Secretary of State Michael Adams (R) have issued new regulations for the June primary that waive the requirement of an excuse to vote absentee, waive the need for ballots to be notarized, allows for 2 weeks of early voting for voters who need to cast ballots in person, and ensures that ballots that are postmarked by Election Day and received within 3 days are counted. Also, the state will prepay postage on absentee mail ballots.


A new law stipulates that the state will prepay postage on absentee mail ballots for both the primary and November election.


The state has sent ballots to all registered voters for the June primary.

New Jersey

Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced that the state will send active, registered Democrats and Republicans ballots, while inactive/unaffiliated voters will receive ballot applications for the primaries. Both will include pre-paid return envelopes.

North Dakota

Gov. Doug Burgum (R) issued an executive order allowing every county to conduct the Juen primary entirely by mail.


Election officials in Allegheny County, the 2nd largest in the state, said they will send ballot applications to all registered voters for the June primary.

Rhode Island

Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea (D) said all registered voters will be sent an absentee ballot application for the June primary.

South Carolina

Gov. Henry McMaster (R) signed a new bill that allows all voters to request an absentee ballot by claiming “state of emergency” as the valid excuse. This law currently only applies to the June primaries and runoffs; lawsuits are pending to extend the law to the November election.


Texas is a mess. Instead of recapping all the back-and-forth here, I encourage you to get caught up on the latest here:  The fight over letting Texans under age 65 vote by mail, explained


Secretary of State Jim Condos (D) said the August primaries will be conducted by mail. However, he and the governor are fighting about whether or not that rule will be extended to the November election.


A federal court has agreed with the ACLU in a lawsuit, whereby Virginia will waive the need for voters to have their absentee ballots signed by a witness for the June primary.


Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has signed a bill that allows the city to send ballot applications and pre-paid envelopes to all registered voters for the November election.

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2 replies

  1. I find it encouraging that there seems to be a bipartisan movement towards expanding vote by mail access.

    • Despite what the president and his allies say, voting by mail is extremely common. I looked it up yesterday — most states allow 3rd party groups, like political parties and advocacy orgs, to send ballot applications to voters. The Sect of State in Michigan mentioned it in a press conference. It’s not true just in Michigan, but all over. So it’s laughable that the president tries to claim that sending ballot applications is illegal. He’d be saying standard practice for the state GOP parties (for one) is illegal.

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