Absent voter ballots are available for all elections. They provide voters with a convenient method for casting a ballot when they are unable to attend the polls on election day.
As a registered voter, you may obtain an absent voter ballot if you are:
- Age 60 years old or older
- Unable to vote without assistance at the polls
- Expecting to be out of town on election day
- In jail awaiting arraignment or trial
- Unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons
- Appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.
A person who registers to vote by mail must vote in person in the first election in which he or she participates. The restriction does not apply to overseas voters, voters who are handicapped or voters who are 60 years of age or older. (Voting in person on one governmental level clears the restriction on the other levels. For example, if a voter subject to the restriction votes in person at a school election, the voter would be free to obtain an absentee ballot for the first state election in which he or she wishes to participate.)
Requesting an Absent Voter Ballot
Your request for an absent voter ballot must be in writing and can be submitted to your city or township clerk. (For assistance in obtaining the address of your city or township clerk, click here. Your request must include one of the six statutory reasons stated above and your signature. You may request an absent voter ballot with a letter or post card, or you can obtain a pre-printed application form at your local clerk's office. Requests to have an absent voter ballot mailed to you must be submitted to your clerk no later than 2 p.m. the Saturday before the election.
Once the local clerk receives your request, your signature on the request will be checked against your voter registration record before a ballot is issued. Requests for absent voter ballots are processed immediately. Absent voter ballots may be issued to you at your home address or any address outside of your city or township of residence.
After receiving your absent voter ballot, you have until 8 p.m. on election day to complete the ballot and return it to the clerk's office. Your ballot will not be counted unless your signature is on the return envelope and matches your signature on file. If you received assistance voting the ballot, then the signature of the person who helped you must also be on the return envelope. Only you, a family member or person residing in your household, a mail carrier, or election official is authorized to deliver your signed absent voter ballot to your clerk's office.
If an emergency, such as a sudden illness or family death prevents you from reaching the polls on Election Day, you may request an emergency absent voter ballot. Requests for an emergency ballot must be submitted after the deadline for regular absent voter ballots has passed but before 4 p.m. on Election Day. The emergency must have occurred at a time, which made it impossible for you to apply for a regular absent voter ballot. Your local clerk will have more information about emergency absent voter ballots.
Voting is one of the most cherished and fundamental rights in our country. If you are eligible to obtain an absent voter ballot and cannot attend the polls on Election Day, use of the absent voter ballot is encouraged.