To complete an absentee voting ballot, the voter must fill in his selection for candidates or referendums, place the ballet in the secrecy envelop and put the secrecy envelope in the provided return envelope, and sign and date the return envelope. Most absentee ballots require proper postage to travel through the postal service, and must be postmarked by the date specified on the ballot or election day. Absentee ballots are typically mailed two to four weeks prior to election day.
Typically, absentee ballots require voters to completely fill in bubbles or circles to indicate a vote. Candidates are sorted by office sought. Only one vote per office is allowed, or the ballot will be considered invalid. Each ballot initiative and referendum will also have its own section, typically with a brief summary of the impact of the law preceding the voting options.
The actual absentee ballot itself typically carries no identifying numbers and requires no signature. Neither does the privacy envelope used to submit the ballot. Voter identification is provided on the outer return envelope, usually requiring the date and a signature from the registered voter or his legal agent. Some states require a signature only from the registered voter in question.