These States Invalidate Mail-In Ballots After Election Day

Millions of Americans are expected to mail in their ballots for this November's presidential election because of the coronavirus health crisis, but in a majority of the country if a ballot is sent too late, it won't be counted.

Officials in 34 states will not accept ballots that arrive in the mail after Election Day—even if they are postmarked before the contest is held, a report from the National Conference of State Legislatures showed.

Sixteen states and Washington D.C. will still count the vote if the ballot arrives after the fact, but the time frame varies from state to state. Alaska, for example, will accept a ballot for up to 10 days post-race as long as it's postmarked on or before Election Day. In Kansas, voters only have three days to make sure the ballot is delivered.

The various sets of rules add even more confusion to what is shaping up to be a chaotic election cycle. But one thing is clear: If you plan to vote by mail, you'll need to do it early. Dropping your ballot in a mailbox on Election Day may not guarantee your vote was cast.

Recent polling has shown that Americans overwhelmingly support universal access to mail-in voting. A Gallup survey from mid-May found that 63 percent of U.S. adults support their state allowing all voters to vote by mail or absentee ballot in this year's presidential election.

But President Donald Trump does not back voting by mail and falsely claims that it will lead to increased fraud. He's even suggested delaying the 2020 contest altogether, although the remark was met with swift opposition from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

On Friday, Trump told reporters that "this is going to be the greatest election disaster in history."

For the most part, mail-in voting is safe. However, not all ballots get counted. Nearly a quarter of votes cast in the 2016 election were carried through the mail, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and roughly 1 percent, or 319,000, of absentee ballots were rejected. Half of them were rejected due to mistakes with voter's signatures and about a quarter were denied because the ballot arrived after the deadline.

The United States Postal Service is already warning election officials that it won't be able to guarantee that voters' ballots will arrive by a certain date. The agency told Fox News that voters should be advised to request ballots at the earliest point allowable but no later than 15 days prior to November 3.

Many states are also encouraging voters to use drop boxes to return mail-in ballots rather than the postal service. Ahead of Michigan's primary elections next week, state officials asked voters on Friday to consider using a drop bin or dropping off absentee ballots at a county clerk's office.

If a voter's mail-in ballot arrives after Election Day in the following states, it will not be accepted by officials: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

mail in balloting coronavirus 2020
An election worker sorts vote-by-mail ballots for the presidential primary at King County Elections in Renton, Washington on March 10, 2020. Millions of Americans are expected to vote by mail in the 2020 general election due to the coronavirus pandemic. Jason Redmond/AFP/Getty Images

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia will accept the ballots that arrive after Election Day, so long as they are postmarked before or on the day of the contest. Here's how long a state will wait to count a ballot sent by post, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures and information from state agencies.

Alaska: Ten days after the election if postmarked on or before Election Day.

California: Seventeen days after the election if postmarked on or before Election Day.

District of Columbia: Seven days after the election if postmarked on or before Election Day.

Florida: If a mail ballot is not accepted, the elections office is required to notify the voter and provide them with an opportunity to fix the issue. A vote-by-mail cure affidavit must be submitted by 5 p.m. two days after the election.

Illinois: Fourteen days after election if postmarked on or before Election Day

Iowa: No later than noon on the Monday following the election and must be postmarked by the day before Election Day.

Kansas: Three days after the election if postmarked before the close of polls on Election Day.

Maryland: Ten days after the election if postmarked on or before Election Day.

New Jersey: Forty-eight hours after polls close if postmarked on or before Election Day.

New York: Seven days after the election for mailed ballots postmarked the day before Election Day.

North Dakota: Must be postmarked by November 2.

North Carolina: Three days after the election if postmarked on or before Election Day.

Ohio: Ten days after the election if postmarked by the day before Election Day.

Texas: The day after the election by 5 p.m. if postmarked on or before Election Day.

Utah: Seven to 14 days after the election if postmarked the day before the election.

Washington: No deadline, but must be postmarked on or before Election Day.

West Virginia: Five days after election if postmarked on or before Election Day.

These States Invalidate Mail-In Ballots After Election Day | U.S.