List of Early Voting States in America

Line of Black voters waiting outside of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church to vote
Black voters can be seen lined up outside of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama to vote in the 2008 general election, the first presidential election featuring a Black nominee.

Mario Tama / Getty Images

Early voting allows voters to cast their ballots before Election Day. As of September 2020, this practice is legal in 43 states and the District of Columbia, including five all-mail voting states that allow ballots to be delivered before Election Day (see full list below). Voters in most states that allow early voting do not need to provide a reason to exercise their right to vote.

Six states—New Hampshire, Connecticut, South Carolina, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Missouri—do not allow in-person early voting. Delaware will allow early voting starting in 2022.

Reasons for Early Voting

Early voting makes it more convenient for Americans who may not be able to make it to their polling places on Election Day, which is always a Tuesday, to cast their ballots. The practice is also designed to increase voter participation and reduce problems such as overcrowding at polling places.

Criticism of Early Voting

Some political analysts and pundits do not like the idea of early voting because it allows voters to cast their votes before they have all the necessary information about the candidates running for office. 

There is also evidence that turnout is slightly lower in states that allow early voting. Barry C. Burden and Kenneth R. Mayer, professors of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, wrote in The New York Times in 2010 that early voting "dilutes the intensity of Election Day."

"When a large share of votes is cast well in advance of the first Tuesday in November, campaigns begin to scale back their late efforts. The parties run fewer ads and shift workers to more competitive states. Get-out-the-vote efforts in particular become much less efficient when so many people have already voted."
"When Election Day is merely the end of a long voting period, it lacks the sort of civic stimulation that used to be provided by local news media coverage and discussion around the water cooler. Fewer co-workers will be sporting 'I voted' stickers on their lapels on Election Day. Studies have shown that these informal interactions have a strong effect on turnout, as they generate social pressure. With significant early voting, Election Day can become a kind of afterthought, simply the last day of a drawn-out slog."

How Early Voting Works

Voters who choose to cast their ballots before Election Day in one of the states that allow early voting can do so as far as 45 days or as few as four days in advance of the November election. Early voting may end several days before or the day before Election Day.

Early voting often takes place at county elections offices but is also permitted in some states at schools and libraries.

States That Allow Early Voting

In the United States, 38 states and the District of Columbia allow in-person early voting, according to National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) data.

The states that allow in-person early voting are:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

States With All-Mail Voting

As of 2020, there are five states that conduct all-mail voting and allow ballots to be turned in before Election Day:

  • Colorado
  • Hawaii
  • Oregon
  • Utah
  • Washington

States That Don't Allow Early Voting

The following seven states do not allow in-person early voting as of 2020 (though approved absentee ballots may be delivered before Election Day), according to the NCSL:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware*
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • South Carolina

*Delaware has plans to enact early voting in 2022.

View Article Sources
  1. "State Laws Governing Early Voting." National Conference of State Legislatures.

  2. Von Spakovsky, Hans. "The Costs of Early Voting." Election Integrity. The Heritage Foundation, 3 Oct. 2017.

  3. Schaefer, David Lewis. "The Case Against Early Voting." National Review, 19 Nov. 2008.

  4. Burden, Barry C., and Kenneth R. Mayer. "Voting Early, but Not So Often." The New York Times, 24 Oct. 2010.

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Your Citation
Murse, Tom. "List of Early Voting States in America." ThoughtCo, Oct. 9, 2020, Murse, Tom. (2020, October 9). List of Early Voting States in America. Retrieved from Murse, Tom. "List of Early Voting States in America." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).