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How to get an absentee ballot in Indiana and make sure it gets counted

If you are requesting an absentee-by-mail ballot, you do not need to present proof of identification unless you are a first-time voter.
Credit: AP
Todd Gallagher prepares mail in ballot envelopes including an I Voted sticker Wednesday, July 29, 2020 in Minneapolis. Absentee ballots are being requested at a record level this year. Nearly 470,000 Minnesotans have requested to vote absentee. That's an amazing 12-times the number requesting mail in voting at this point in 2018. This year's demand obliterates the demand in the 2016 Presidential election, when only 20,000 absentee ballots were requested by July 24. (Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune via AP)

INDIANAPOLIS — A record number of Hoosiers are expected to request absentee ballots for the 2020 election. 

The state deadline for an Absentee Ballot Application (ABS-MAIL) is Oct. 22 by 11.59 p.m. The ballot must be filled out, returned and in the hands of the Election Board by noon on Election Day, Nov 3. That is state law in order for it to be counted.

The expected increase in demand for absentee ballots has the Indiana secretary of state giving guidance on when to ask for and mail back that ballot. She recommends submitting an application for an absentee ballot no later than Oct. 19 and mailing it back by Oct. 27.

The post office and state are looking at special envelopes for absentee ballots to help the post office prioritize them. Those envelopes will not show part affiliation on them.

Reasons to request an absentee ballot

There are many reasons a Hoosier can file for an absentee ballot:

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

If you are requesting an absentee-by-mail ballot, you do not need to present proof of identification unless you are a first time voter.

You do need to file an application before each election you want to vote absentee-by-mail.

RELATED: Decision 2020: We want to hear from you

How to apply for an absentee ballot

The application to request a vote-by-mail ballot must be received no later than Oct. 22 for the November election. That means the county or state must have have the application by that deadline, not just postmarked by that deadline. Remember though that this year, Indiana's secretary of state suggests having that done by Oct. 19.

Voters can download and print the ABS-Mail form, or call their county election official or the Indiana Election Division at 317-232-3939 for an application to be mailed to them. They can also visit their county election office or election division to pick up an application in person. 

Hoosier voters who are currently registered to vote can file an absentee application:

  • Online at indianavoters.com by logging in to their “my voter portal page” by entering the requested information exactly as it appears on their voter registration record. When on the main landing page, the voter selects the “ABS-Mail (Por Correo)” option and enters the information as prompted. After clicking “submit,” a confirmation screen appears that allows the voter to download and retain a copy for their records. There is no need to sign and return the online submission since the system applies the voter’s registration signature to the application on the back-end.
  • By mail or hand-delivery to the county election board office. Physical addresses to the county election boards are found on the back of the ABS-Mail application. Contact the office directly to determine office hours. Remember, if you take custody of another’s absentee ballot application, you are to deliver it to the election official no later than noon, ten days after receiving it or the application deadline, whichever comes first.
  • By email. This requires the voter to print, sign, and scan or photograph their absentee ballot application, then send it to the county official or the Indiana Election Division at elections@iec.in.gov.

If you already requested your ballot, state statute requires that it be mailed to you no later than Sept. 19.  

NOTE: A voter with disabilities may request that another person sign the voter’s name on their behalf on the application. The person providing the assistance may not be the voter’s employer or union representative and must complete the affidavit of assistance found on the application. If the assistor is the voter’s power of attorney (POA), the POA paperwork should be submitted with the application.

RELATED: VERIFY: Where is my absentee ballot and will it show which political party I’m supporting?

Returning your ballot

Ballots must be mailed back by Oct. 27 to ensure they arrive on time to be counted, according to Indiana's secretary of state.

The voter must be the one to mark and then sign the ballot. The ballot packet you receive will include a pre-paid return security envelope. The envelope only displays the voter's name, address, and a line for the voter's signature. The envelope does not show any information about the voter's political party affiliation.

County officials have to receive a completed absentee-by-mail ballot by noon on Election Day to be counted.

Only the voter, the voter’s attorney, a bonded courier, or a member of the voter’s immediate household may hand-deliver a completed absentee ballot to the county election board.