Voting Using Absentee Ballots

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 22,985
    Voting expert Adam Fogel explains how to vote in an election using absentee ballots.

    Adam Fogel

    Adam Fogel is the Right to Vote Director at FairVote-The Center for Voting and Democracy. He is developing a voting curriculum for high schools to encourage students to get involved in the political process and register to vote. Before joining FairVote, Adam served as the Pennsylvania Field Director for a voter registration project funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts that registered over 500,000 new, young voters. He recruited and trained over 100 student leaders on more than 15 community college campuses throughout Pennsylvania before the 2006 mid-term elections. Simultaneously, he gathered data to create a voter registration model that can be used at any of the more than 1,100 U.S. community colleges nationwide, which enroll 11 million students—46 percent of all undergraduates. Adam was a fellow at the Center for Political Participation at Allegheny College for two years, where he designed an educational outreach program in high schools called “Why Bother? The Importance of Voting in America.” In 2005, The Institute of Politics at Harvard University adapted “Why Bother?” into a national program. A Cleveland, Ohio native, Adam earned a B.A. in Political Science and English from Allegheny College in May, 2006. He is currently enrolled in a master’s degree program at the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University. He resides in Washington, D.C.

    Adam Fogel: Hi, I am Adam Fogel, the Right to Vote Director at FairVote, a national non-partisan, non-profit organization based in Washington DC. Today, I am talking about how to register and vote in US elections. Now, I will show you how to request an absentee ballot. If you are not going to be in your home district on Election Day, its important to request an absentee ballot to vote in an election. Absentee ballot means you send out a request form to your local board of elections and they mail you a ballot that you can fill out and send back, no matter where you are in the world. To find an absentee ballot request form, you have to go to your local board of elections or go to your secretary of states website. You can find contact information for your secretary of state at

    All states have different rules and regulations for requesting absentee ballots. Some states even require you to come up with an excuse to request an absentee ballot to vote. The excuse can be as simple as you are not going to be at home during the time of the election. Most states require that you request your absentee ballot at least a month prior to Election Day. Most states also require that you turn your absentee ballot in after you filled it out on Election Day before the polls close. I recommend just to be safe that you send in your absentee ballot at least a week before election day to allow for mail delivery. If you have requested an absentee ballot and it hasn't arrived at least two weeks before Election Day, its important that you call your local board of elections to make sure they have received your request form. If they haven't, make sure you fill another one out and send it into your local board of elections as soon as possible. If they said, they have received it and they just haven't signed it yet, make sure to stop by your local board of elections to pick it up. No one else is going to follow up and so its so important that you take it upon yourself to make sure you have received your absentee ballot and fill it out and return it before Election Day. So that's all you have to do to request an absentee ballot and fill it out, and turn it in then by election day.

    Next, we are going to talk about what voters serving in the military or living overseas should do to register and vote.