Heads up: you have to pick a new president.

And Senators. And Congressmen. And County Commissioners (whatever it is that they do).

So whether you’re a Hillz fan or all for Trump (or hate both, which let’s be honest, is the case for a lot of people), if you’ll be away from home on Election Day, you’ll need to register for an absentee ballot.

First things first, you need to register to vote. It only takes like five minutes and you can find the online registration forms here.

how to get an absentee ballot

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Now that that’s out of the way, here’s everything you need to know about how to vote absentee:

Qualifying

People usually vote absentee because they are

  • College students who study outside of their congressional district.
  • Expats working abroad.
  • In the military.
  • Regular Joes who decided to take a vacation in early November.
  • Unable to get to the polls.

Absentee voting by mail is NOT for people who just don’t want to wait in the lines on Election Day. I know it’s the worst, but that’s what early voting is for.

Registering

Election Day is the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Because of this, it can be anywhere from November 2nd – November 8th. This year, American voters get a little more time to think about things, because Election Day isn’t until the 8th.

To receive your absentee ballot, you’ll need to

  • Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program website and select your “home” state from the dropdown menu (or your domicile state, if you want to get fancy about it).
  • Make sure you have access to a printer.
  • Download and fill out the Federal Post Card Application.
  • Mail it to your “home” county’s voting office.

You can find the list of addresses on the FVAP website, and please note that I’m saying COUNTY not COUNTRY. Easy mistake, but it could cost you your vote.

how to get an absentee ballot

Deadlines

To avoid being complacent in the biggest presidential election of all time, now that you know how to vote absentee, you need to get after it!

Technically, the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot varies by state (and you can find a complete list of voter registration and absentee ballot deadlines here) but the general consensus is

  • you have until the last week of October to request one

and

  • it needs to be received by November 8th (or whenever election day is, if you’re reading this later on), not postmarked by then.

I voted absentee while in college in both the 2012 and 2014 elections. As long as you follow the steps above, voting while away from home is easy as pie.

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how to vote absentee

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