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Who is eligible to request an absentee ballot in Indiana?

Indiana voters cannot cite concerns about the spread of COVID-19 as a reason to vote by mail in the general election.

INDIANAPOLIS — While most Kentucky voters will have the option to vote by mail for the general election, Indiana officials said the state is planning on having a “regular” election in November, with most voters going to the polls.

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said some people will still be allowed to vote by mail by requesting an absentee ballot. 

Who is eligible to request an absentee ballot

According to the Secretary of State’s website, voters are eligible to vote absentee-by-mail if:

  1. They have a specific, reasonable expectation that they will be absent from the county on Election Day during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open
  2. They have a disability.
  3. They are at least 65 years of age.
  4. They will have official election duties outside of their voting precinct.
  5. They are scheduled to work at their regular place of employment during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open.
  6. They will be confined due to illness or injury or will be caring for an individual confined due to illness or injury during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open.
  7. They are prevented from voting because of a religious discipline or religious holiday during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open.
  8. They are a participant in the state's address confidentiality program.
  9. They are a member of the military or a public safety officer.
  10. They are a "serious sex offender" as defined in Indiana Code 35-42-4-14(a).
  11. They are prevented from voting due to the unavailability of transportation to the polls.

The Indiana State Election Commission allowed any Indiana resident to request an absentee ballot for the June Primary due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the commission declined to expand mail-in voting for the November election.

How to request an absentee ballot

Absentee ballots can be requested through Oct. 22. There are three ways to request an absentee ballot in Indiana:

  1. Online through the Indiana Voter Portal at indianavoters.com
  2. By mail or hand-delivery. If a voter mails in their application, it must be in the possession of election of officials by Oct. 22. Applications postmarked by the deadline, but not received by election officials will not be processed.
  3. By email. Voters must print, sign, and scan or photograph their absentee ballot application and send it to the county official or the Indiana Election Division at elections@iec.in.gov. 

If a voter is planning on requesting an absentee ballot, Lawson advised them to request it early. While the portal to request absentee ballots in Indiana is open, ballots will not ship until mid-September, once the ballots are finalized.

How to return an absentee ballot

When the application for an absentee ballot is approved, voters will receive a ballot packet in the mail. The packet will include a ballot, the absentee voter bill of rights and a return envelope with pre-paid postage. Voters will complete the ballot, sign it and return it through the mail or by hand-delivering it to the county election board.

Election officials must receive the completed absentee ballot before noon on Election Day, Nov. 3, for it to count, even if the ballot is postmarked before Nov. 3.

Lawson said she expects more people to vote absentee compared to previous years, but the state is working with the United States Postal Service (USPS) to make sure everything goes smoothly.

“The postal service is helping counties design envelopes so mail sorters and carriers can easily identify election mail and prioritize its deliveries to voters and to the counties when a voter returns a ballot,” she said.

The Secretary of State’s website says voters also have the option of in-person absentee, or early, voting. Voting begins Tuesday, Oct. 6, and ends at noon on Nov. 2. In-person absentee voting will also be offered on two Saturdays – Oct. 24 and Oct. 31. 

Voters can find their early voting locations and dates on the Indiana Voter Portal. Voters choosing in-person absentee voting do not have to fill out an absentee ballot application.

For those voting in person, Lawson said polling locations will be fully equipped to protect the health and safety of voters and poll workers. Workers will have masks, gloves and hand sanitizer and voters will also have access to personal protective equipment (PPE).

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