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HUSL Library

VOTE: Request a Ballot (State by State guide): Introduction

The 2020 General Election on November 3 is critically important. On this guide, find voting information arranged by region, with an alphabetical list of states under each region. States are changing mail-in ballot processes to address the pandemic.

VOTE: Request a Ballot (State by State Guide)

Runoff Elections

Learn more about participating in the runoff elections in Georgia and review related news here.

If at any point in this process you encounter barriers or aren't sure how to proceed, don't hesitate to reach out to and we will connect you with information, paper, stamps -- whatever you might need to participate in the election. 

We're here for you!

Guide Instructions

As of October 29, 2020

The 2020 General Election on November 3 is critically important and is in the midst of a pandemic. 

Students living outside of their county are typically eligible for Absentee Ballots, while many states have expanded Vote by Mail in light of our public health crisis.  We are dedicated to helping our students who are eligible to vote be empowered to exercise their franchise.

Please note! There are concerns about post office delays.  If you are going to vote absentee, request and return your ballot as early as possible.  Also, you might consider dropping your ballot off by hand if you are voting from your permanent address.  Relevant information is included in this guide to help you navigate the voting process.

On this site, you will find the information you need arranged by region, with an alphabetical list of states under each region.  Please note that states are changing their processes to address the pandemic.  Refer back to this guide for updates.  


I don't have a printer

Many states require printed forms.  If you do not have a printer, will print your absentee ballot application and mail it to you with a pre-paid envelope. On this site, you can verify your registration, register, and request a Mail-in Ballot.

Some states require copies of your IDs.  If you are in one of these states and don''t have a printer, the organization will print copies, print your forms, and send everything to you with a pre-address and paid envelope.  Also, if you do not have an acceptable ID, Voteriders will help you get one.


General Process

  • Verify your registration. 
    • If you are not registered or have been purged from the rolls, register.
  • If you are away from your home county because you are in school, request an Absentee Ballot.  This step is especially important for students living in DC.  If you can vote legally in another state, vote there.  DC voters currently do not have any meaningful representation in Congress.  
  • If you are living at home, see if your state is going to automatically send you a ballot.  If not, see if there is either no-excuse Absentee Ballots or if there is another excuse (e.g., COVID-19) that fits your circumstance.  Request your ballot.
    • Add a badge to your social media to promote voting.  Help your friends and family vote!
  • Research all your races.
  •  Review all of the ballot instructions when they arrive and follow them exactly. 
    • Be sure that you include the right amount of postage and, if unsure, err on the side of an extra stamp.   
    • Pay attention to how to put the envelopes together - often you put your ballot in a sealed envelope and  put the sealed envelope in another envelope that may include an affidavit, a copy of ID, and/or require that it be sealed with a signature -- either yours or that of a witness.
    • Pay special attention to whether the ballot must be RECEIVED or POSTMARKED by a particular day.  Give your ballot as long a window as possible to arrive [click here to find a post office/postal box].  If you're local, consider hand-delivering your ballot if that is an option.  
  • Add a badge to your social media and be proud that you have fulfilled an essential duty and hard won right as a citizen of our democracy.

Author Credits

Over the summer of 2020, Kristina Alayan, HUSL Library Director, partnered with local organizations, academic library directors, and HUSL students to spread the word on ballot initiatives.  During these collaborations Prof. Alayan obtained permission from American University to copy their Request a Ballot guide over to HUSL Library for independent development.  HUSL Library's edition of the guide is accessible through our website, where you’re currently viewing it.

The following librarian at American University Library created the original guide that was the basis for HUSL Library’s version:

  • Gwendolyn Reece, PhD,  Associate University Librarian and  Director of Research, Teaching and Learning

American University's original Request a Ballot Guide is available here, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  Contact Gwendolyn Reece for permission to reuse American University's guide.

Victoria Capatosto oversaw the development of HUSL Library's edition of this guide while working at HUSL between May 2016 through January 2022, with assistance from Research Fellows, Research Assistants, and LIS graduate student interns working at HUSL Library. 

  • During the Fall 2020 semester HUSL Library reorganized content into a regional structure; added in a "Stay Up to Date" section and an "Additional Resources" section; and HUSL Library's Research Fellow, Yaa McNeil, and Research Assistants, Aicha Dougan, Brittney Scott, and Elorm Sallah, monitored changes for all states.

Interested in learning more about the fight for civil rights and voting issues in the United States?  Visit our website "A Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States" for an overview and stay current here.


© Howard University School of Law Library.  Questions about this guide should be directed to


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