This analysis uses data collected by the National Council of State Legislatures on the most recent policies regarding voting across the states, last updated on Oct. 10, 2020 (accessed Oct. 12, 2020).
States in the category “All voters can vote by mail, ballots mailed to all” are states with a permanent policy in which all voting is conducted by mail or states that have adopted a temporary measure for this election. States in the category “All voters can vote by mail, applications mailed to all” are states where all voters are allowed to vote absentee and all registered voters were sent applications to request a mail-in ballot for the 2020 presidential election. States in the category “All voters can vote by mail by request” include all states where absentee voting is allowed for all, but voters need to take steps to request an absentee ballot. The remaining states (“Only voters with an excuse can vote by mail”) include those that require voters to document reasons why they are requesting an absentee ballot.
Some of the states in the “Only voters with an excuse can vote by mail” category have expanded their eligibility requirements to allow concerns about COVID-19 to be a valid excuse. However, this expansion of eligibility looks very different in some places. For example, Mississippi expanded eligibility for absentee voting, but only for those who are themselves under or are responsible for caring for someone under a “physician-imposed quarantine” whereas New York allows voters who are “concerned about voting in-person” due to the pandemic to cite illness as a valid excuse.