Tips for staying healthy when voting by mail

  • If you are returning your ballot at a mailbox or drop box, wash your hands afterwards with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • If you are dropping off your ballot at a voting location, practice physical distancing and wear a mask or other face covering to protect yourself and others, and wash your hands before and after you drop off your ballot.

What if I need to buy stamps for an absentee ballot application?

  • Consider using the Post Office’s online store, usps.com.
  • If you go to a post office or store to buy stamps, wear a mask or other face covering to protect yourself, the postal clerks, and other people.
  • Wash your hands afterwards with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

What if I need a witness or notary to vote by mail in my state?

Practice physical distancing by stepping in and stepping back when interacting with a witness or notary.

  • Meet at opposite sides of a table, doorway or window. Wear masks.
  • You step in to sign the form, leave it on the table, and step back.
  • The witness steps in, signs the form, and steps back
  • You step in again to pick it up with all signatures on it. As always, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer when you are done.

You can also:

  • Combine trips when leaving home and bring your ballot with you for someone to witness or notarize.
  • See if your state has special options for virtual witness or notary services.

Is there a way to sign an online ballot request form digitally?

If your state requires voters to request a ballot by mail, check to see if there is an online form. You may be able to complete and sign the online form by:

  • Entering your driver's license or state ID number. The elections office will use your signature from your ID to sign the form.
  • Taking a photograph of your signature or using your finger to sign on the screen and attaching the image to your form.

These healthy options mean you don't need to print and mail the form, saving a trip out to the mailbox or post office. Check with your state or local elections office to find out what options are available.

How voting by mail works

You get a ballot in the mail, fill it out, sign and seal the ballot envelope, and return it through the mail or at a secure drop box.

Tips for successfully voting by mail

Read and follow the instructions carefully for any special requirements

  • Some states require other people to sign your ballot envelope as a witness.
  • Some states require a copy of your driver’s license or Social Security number.
  • You may be able to use your phone to take a photo of your ID.
  • Some requirements may be updated or waived for the 2020 elections.

Make sure your ballot will be counted

  • Be sure you sign the declaration or oath on the return envelope. When you sign, use a pen, not a pencil.
  • Sign carefully. Sign legibly. Your election department may match your signature to what they have on file.
  • Be sure you know when the ballot must be returned. Get it back early if you can.

1. Sign the envelope. 2. Election officials match the signature. 3. Return your ballot on time.

You can return the ballot in several ways

Put it in the mail

  • Put it in your own mailbox for the mail carrier to collect, or put it in a Post Office blue mail box, or take it to a post office.
  • Mail it early, if you can, to be sure it arrives on time.
  • If you mail it on Election Day, ask the post office to "hand cancel it." (That means it will have the right date to prove you mailed it on time.)
  • Follow state guidelines if you want assistance for returning your ballot.

Drop it off at a drop box or vote center

  • To find where you can drop off your ballot, go to your state or county website.
  • Be sure to drop it off in time. For the deadline, check our page for your state.
  • If you drop it off in person at a voting center, practice physical distancing, wear a mask or face covering, and wash your hands before and after droppign off your ballot.
  • Follow state guidelines if you want assistance for returning your ballot.

Find information about your voting options