When choosing to vote early, it is important to find out the state's requirements or deadlines. Some allow voters to send in their votes by mail, while others require the voter to arrive in-person at a certain time. Some states may ask voters to drop off ballots on Election Day.
The time period for early voting can vary between states, beginning as early as 45 days before Election Day or as late as the Friday before. Early voting lasts an average of 19 days, lasting anywhere between four to 45 days.
There are generally three ways a state can allow people to vote before Election Day. As of February 2015, 33 states and the District of Columbia do not require an excuse or justification from voters who wish to cast a ballot before Election Day in-person. Every state can mail someone an absentee ballot that is returned either in person or through the mail. 20 states require the voter to provide an excuse, while 27 do not. It may also be possible to be added to a permanent absentee ballot list.
Three states, Washington, Oregon and Colorado, automatically mail all residents a ballot and do not have a poll site. As of February 2015, 14 states do not allow early voting and require an excuse for absentee voting.