Did you know you can’t vote by absentee ballot just because you don’t feel like going to the polls on Election Day?
There are only certain conditions under which a voter can cast an absentee ballot with their town clerk and they are:
- You’re an active military service member.
- You’re going to be out of town during polling hours.
- You’re sick or physically disabled.
- Your religion forbids secular activity on that day.
- You work for the town on the election and will be at a polling place other than your own.
For any election, including primaries, absentee ballots must be filed with the municipal clerk before the close of polls on Election Day. They can be filed ahead of time as well. Absentee ballots are available for any election, primary or referendum, but you have to fill out an application form with your town clerk before he or she can issue you an absentee ballot. Applications are also available at any town clerk’s office.
To cast the ballot, mark the card and return it to the town clerk's office in the town where you live.
If you’re helping someone else, or several other people, with absentee ballots, state elections officials have a host of rules and regulations about that as well.
For instance, you can distribute applications for absentee ballots, but if you try to get five or more applications from your town clerk the state requires that you register with the clerk first. You can, however, pick up five or more applications for absentee ballots for immediate family members without having to register with your town clerk.
You can help people fill out the absentee ballot application, but you can’t be present or help them fill out the actual absentee ballot unless you’re an immediate family member or health care provider and the voter has designated you to do so. You also have to immediately return absentee ballot application forms to the town clerk.
You can’t take possession of a completed absentee ballot filled out by someone else and you can’t deliver it to local election officials on their behalf.
It’s a class D felony to possess an absentee ballot filled out by anyone else and for any politician, candidate or political party committee member to be present when a voter fills out an absentee ballot. It’s also a felony to make a false statement in absentee balloting or to misrepresent to voters the eligibility requirements for absentee ballots. Such violations carry civil fines of up to $2,000 and criminal fines of up to $5,000, under state election laws.
For a fact sheet with more information on absentee balloting click here, or see the PDF above.