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How to vote by mail in the 2020 U.S. election

Voting is an important part of being an American citizen that every eligible person should do their best to participate in. Of course, with the United States in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, and likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future, voting is easier said than done in the year 2020. Thankfully, most states offer methods for some or all of their residents to vote by mail.

We’ve compiled everything you need to know to understand how you can vote by mail in all 50 states (and the District of Columbia) in the 2020 U.S. election. To the best of our ability, the information is accurate as of publishing time. But with less than three months to go until Election Day, voting laws are still in flux in states across the country; we strongly recommend verifying the details with your local board of elections or other relevant authorities. And if you see any details that appear to be incorrect or out of date, please alert us via email.


A state-by-state map of mail voting in the 2020 U.S. election

A U.S. map titled “Mail Voting in the 2020 U.S. Election” with each state/jurisdiction shaded in one of three colors to indicate whether it allows everybody to vote by mail (sky blue), mails absentee ballots to all registered voters (lavender), or requires a non-pandemic excuse to vote by mail (red). Graphic: Samit Sarkar/Polygon via Infogram

To get you started, we’ve put together a state-by-state map to illustrate the current status of the various mail voting laws that are in effect across the U.S. All states allow some form of voting by mail, but each one handles the process differently, and it’s not uncommon for states to restrict absentee voting to people who have a legitimate excuse. That’s in normal circumstances, though. During the coronavirus pandemic, many states have temporarily changed their laws to make it easier to vote by mail in the 2020 general election.

As of Sept. 22, 45 states and the District of Columbia will allow all registered voters to cast mail ballots this year — residents either won’t need to give an excuse for why they’re voting by mail rather than in person, or they’ll be able to cite the pandemic as an excuse. In many states, voters will have to fill out an application to request that a ballot be mailed to them (blue). But nine of the 45 states, plus D.C., will go a step further in facilitating absentee voting: They will send absentee ballots to every registered voter, no application required (purple). The remaining five states have not relaxed their existing restrictions on mail voting; people who live there will still have to vote in person unless they have one of the usual excuses, because the pandemic doesn’t count as one (red).

As we mentioned above, policies are still liable to change. For instance, it wasn’t until Sept. 16 that South Carolina amended its laws to make the pandemic an acceptable excuse for absentee voting. We’ll do our best to keep the map — and this article — updated with the latest.


Things everyone should know

When is Election Day 2020?

By law, Election Day in the U.S. falls on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. In 2020, that day is Nov. 3.

Register to vote

Before we get started, it’s important to note that voting by mail in any state is only available to those who have registered to vote in that state. We have a whole guide on how to register to vote in every state, so check that out first and make sure you’re registered.

What’s the difference between absentee ballots and mail voting?

For all intents and purposes, there is no difference — certainly no legal distinction — between voting by mail and voting via an absentee ballot. This article uses the terms interchangeably, depending on each state’s individual language (except for Missouri, where there is a difference).

First-time voters

If this is your first time voting, you’ll likely need to include a copy of your ID with your completed ballot or application — probably a photo ID, to be specific. This is true in every state, but instructions included with your ballot or application will tell you more.

Read the envelope

Many envelopes for mail-in ballots require you to sign them or include extra information. Each state is different, but the envelopes should say directly on them what is required. Pay attention to those steps, follow their instructions, and provide the necessary information.

You’ll probably need to print something

The most common method of applying for a vote-by-mail ballot is to download a form, fill it out, print it, and then mail it. Because many people — especially younger people — don’t have printers, this can be a little tricky. Thankfully, there are a few places that can help. You can usually use your local library to print something short like a mail ballot application, or if you’re in high school or college, you can likely print through your school’s computer labs as well.

Send everything in as early as you possibly can

The United States Postal Service is currently facing a funding crisis. This has meant cutbacks and mail delays, on top of the difficulties caused by COVID-19 itself. Mail is now likely to arrive at its destination significantly later than it otherwise would. Because of these facts, it’s very important that any part of the mail-in voting process, whether it be the application or the ballot itself, be mailed as early as possible.

If you have any doubts about whether an item will be delivered on time, you can almost always hand-deliver it to the location you’re attempting to send it to, anyway. Most state election offices, or county and circuit clerks offices, will have drop boxes available, meaning that you won’t need to interact with anyone or break social distancing to make the delivery. Hand delivery, while obviously more difficult than mailing, will ensure that your ballot or application is received on time.


How to vote by mail in every state

Alabama

Residents can request absentee ballots by submitting an application to their county Absentee Election Manager either in person or through the mail. Each county has a unique application, which can be found here. Under the state of emergency general election absentee regulations, which were enacted earlier this year for the COVID-19 pandemic, residents should select the “I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls” option on their absentee application for pandemic-related approval. Applications must be received no later than the 5th day prior to the election. The ballot itself must be postmarked no later than the day before the election, and received no later than noon on Election Day if mailed to the Absentee Election Manager. If it’s delivered in person, the deadline is no later than 5 p.m. on the day prior to the election.

Alaska

Any resident may request a ballot by mail in Alaska for any reason. To do so, residents of the state can use the Online Absentee Ballot Application with a valid state ID, or complete the PDF, then print, sign, and mail it to the Absentee Office. Absentee applications in Alaska must be received 10 days before Election Day. Alaska residents who request a By-Mail Ballot will receive the ballot with a return envelope, and the ballot must be postmarked on or before Election Day.

Arizona

Arizona offers residents two ways to register for Ballot-By-Mail. You can either request one, or join the state’s Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL). To sign up for PEVL, you can either apply online, or submit a written request form. The deadline to join PEVL or request a Ballot-By-Mail is Oct. 23. If you’d like a one-time Ballot-By-Mail, you can request one online, call or email your county recorder, or submit a written request form. The deadline for one-time Ballot-By-Mail options is also Oct. 23. Completed ballots must be received by your county’s election officials by 7 p.m. on Election Day. If you’re returning your ballot by mail, Arizona recommends mailing it by Oct. 27 — one week before Election Day.

Arkansas

Residents of Arkansas can vote by mail in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Asa Hutchinson has announced. While the governor mentioned in his speech on the subject that residents can apply for ballots online, it appears that is only true for those in military service. For everyone else, you’ll need to download the absentee ballot application and send it to your local county clerk, according to officials at the Arkansas Elections Division. Applications must be submitted by mail seven days before the election, and completed ballots must be delivered to the county clerk by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.

California

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, in executive order N-64-20, ordered that all California residents who are registered to vote be delivered a vote-by-mail ballot. The state will still hold in-person elections under strict guidelines, but all registered voters will receive a mail-in ballot. All mail ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county elections office no later than 17 days after Election Day.

Colorado

Colorado provides every registered voter with a mail ballot automatically. The state will still have in-person elections this year, but all voters will receive their mail ballots as usual. Ballots must be received by your local county clerk no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day. You can either mail the ballot back to your local county clerk, or deliver it in person. If you’re a first-time voter, you’ll need to include a copy of your ID with your mail ballot.

Connecticut

In Connecticut, the current plan appears to be for Secretary of State Denise Merrill to mail absentee ballot applications to every registered voter in the state. However, voters can also request mail ballots under a no-excuse allowance in 2020, meaning that any registered voter who requests a ballot will be given one. Registered voters in Connecticut can use the absentee ballot request form on the Connecticut Secretary of State website, and simply check the COVID-19 box to receive their ballot by mail.

Delaware

Delaware will allow voters to request absentee or Vote By Mail ballots. The state’s online form is the simplest method, but there are also two forms you can use to send in your application through the mail: a Vote By Mail application or an absentee ballot application. The Vote By Mail form doesn’t require a reason for the request. On the absentee ballot form, reason No. 3 (“I am sick, or temporarily or permanently physically disabled”) will be accepted in 2020 as an excuse to obtain an absentee ballot, on order of Gov. John Carney. Regardless of whether you’re using an absentee ballot or Vote By Mail, your ballot must arrive at your county elections office by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

District of Columbia

For the 2020 general election, the D.C. Board of Elections is mailing a ballot to every active voter at their registered address, so you don’t need to request one. The district does not require residents to have a reason to vote by mail. The ballots must be postmarked before Election Day, and must arrive no later than seven days after the election.

Florida

Residents of Florida can request a vote-by-mail ballot for any reason (according to Florida statute 101.62). The ballots themselves must be requested through a voter’s local county Supervisor of Elections. Some supervisors have online applications; others only accept mail-in or in-person submissions. A supervisor must receive applications for vote-by-mail ballots no later than 5 p.m. on the 10th day before Election Day (Oct. 24). Voters must return completed ballots to their supervisor’s office by no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day; the state recommends ballots be mailed a week ahead of Election Day in order to meet this deadline.

Georgia

Registered voters in Georgia are allowed to vote by mail without an excuse. Residents must fill out the state’s Application for Official Absentee Ballot (PDF). Once this PDF is filled out, it must be returned to the county Board of Registrars Office either in person, by mail, by fax, or by email as an attachment. Applications must be submitted by the end of business on the Friday before Election Day (Oct. 30). Completed ballots must arrive at the local county election office by Election Day.

Hawaii

All registered voters in Hawaii automatically receive ballots to vote by mail. Once you’ve filled out your ballot, simply place it in the secrecy sleeve, then use the return envelope that was sent with the ballot. Sign and mail the envelope, which will already be addressed to the Clerk’s Office. All ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Idaho

Registered Idaho voters can request an absentee ballot to vote by mail, no excuse needed, by using the Absentee Request Form and mailing it to their local county clerk’s office. Applications must be received by the county clerk’s office by the 11th day prior to Election Day (Oct. 23). Completed ballots must be received by the county clerk’s office by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Illinois

Illinois voters may request a vote-by-mail ballot for any reason. The application must be printed, filled out, and mailed to your local county clerk’s office (the correct address will be at the bottom of your application) or other election authority in the jurisdiction in which you’re registered. Some jurisdictions have online applications. Applications must be received by Oct. 29. Ballots themselves must be returned to your local election authority by 7 p.m. on Election Day, or postmarked by Election Day.

Indiana

Indiana voters can apply for an absentee-by-mail ballot, but must have a reason to vote by mail. Valid reasons include being away from the state, having a disability, being 65 or older, working, or being confined due to illness. However, voters will not be able to use COVID-19 as a reason to vote by mail. Voters can download and fill out the application, then send it to their local election authority by mail, in person, by email, or by filling out the online application using the state’s online portal. Applications must be submitted by Oct. 22. Ballots themselves must be received by no later than noon on Election Day.

Iowa

Iowa residents can request a mail-in absentee ballot using an Absentee Ballot Request Form. The form must be filled out, then mailed or delivered in person to the resident’s local county auditor. The request must be received by the auditor’s office by 5 p.m. on Oct. 24. Completed ballots must be postmarked the Monday before Election Day (Nov. 2), and must be received by the auditor’s office no later than noon on the Monday after Election Day (Nov. 9).

Kansas

Registered voters in Kansas can request absentee ballots in order to vote by mail. Applications for vote-by-mail ballots must be submitted to the local county election authority by Oct. 27. (The addresses for election offices throughout the state are on the ballot application.) Completed ballots must be postmarked on or by Election Day and received by the county election office by close of business on the Friday following Election Day (Nov. 6).

Kentucky

Kentucky will allow residents concerned about COVID-19 to vote by mail, as long as they have applied for an absentee ballot. Registered voters may request absentee ballots online. The deadline to request a ballot is 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 9. Completed ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by your local county clerk’s office by 6 p.m. on Nov. 6.

Louisiana

Louisiana voters can register for absentee ballots in order to vote by mail. Applications for absentee ballots can be found by searching for your voter registration on the Louisiana Secretary of State’s website to complete the form online, or through your local parish’s registrar of voters; contact each registrar to find out the requirements. During the state’s primary, Louisiana put in place temporary legislation to let voters cite COVID-19 as a reason to vote absentee. However, this applied only to high-risk individuals, and has not been extended to the general election. Absentee ballot applications must be turned in by 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 30, while completed ballots must be received by the registrar of voters by 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 2.

Maine

Maine will allow all voters to request absentee ballots. They can do this by filling out a form online, or with a PDF form that can be filled out and delivered to the local municipal clerk or registrar of voters; the deadline to request a mail ballot is 5 p.m. on Oct. 29. All completed ballots must be returned to the local municipal clerk or the registrar of voters by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Maryland

Maryland will mail applications for absentee ballots to all registered voters. In addition, any registered voter can request a mail ballot online, or by filling out a form (PDF) and mailing it to their local election office. Ballot requests must be received by Oct. 20. Completed ballots must be postmarked by Election Day and received by Nov. 13.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts is mailing applications for absentee ballots to all registered voters, and they can request ballots themselves for any reason. Registered voters just have to fill out the Vote-by-Mail Application then deliver it to their local election office by Oct. 28. Completed ballots must be postmarked by Election Day and must arrive at local election offices by Nov. 6.

Michigan

Michigan is mailing applications for absentee ballots to all registered voters, and the state normally allows voters to request mail ballots for any reason. Registered voters can fill out the request form at michigan.gov/vote after checking their registration status. Voters must send the completed form to their local clerk — the address for which can be found on michigan.gov/vote — by no later than 5 p.m. on Oct. 30. Completed ballots must be returned to the local clerk, along with a signature on the designated envelope, by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Minnesota

Registered voters in Minnesota can request mail-in ballots. Applications for mail-in ballots can be completed online or by downloading a PDF and sending it to your local county election official by mail, fax, or email. Minnesota does not currently have a hard deadline on applications, but it recommends that voters “leave time for election officials to mail your ballot.” As for the actual ballots, Minnesota has made several changes to its process this year. While the state normally requires a witness signature on ballots, that will not be necessary this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and must be received no later than Nov. 10.

Mississippi

Mississippi normally allows certain registered voters — specifically, those over 65 or with restrictive medical conditions — to apply to vote by mail. The state has made a minor change to account for the pandemic, but a general fear of COVID-19 still won’t count as a valid reason to vote by mail. The only accommodation is that any voter who is “under a physician-imposed quarantine due to COVID-19 during the year 2020 or is caring for a dependent who is under a physician-imposed quarantine due to COVID-19” now qualifies to vote by mail. To apply for a vote-by-mail ballot, you’ll have to contact your local circuit or municipal clerk’s office. There’s no request deadline, but the completed ballots themselves must be postmarked by Election Day and received by Nov. 10.

Missouri

Missouri normally allows residents to vote by absentee ballot, but only if they have a valid excuse. The state also requires that absentee voters get their ballots notarized. Due to the pandemic, Missouri changed its voting laws for 2020 to add a new category of valid excuse: Anybody who has contracted the coronavirus or is in an “at-risk category” for doing so is now eligible to vote by absentee ballot. In addition, those voters do not need to get their absentee ballots notarized.

Missouri also created a new voting option because of the pandemic that the state refers to as the “mail-in ballot.” This allows for all registered voters to cast a ballot by mail without an excuse — but all mail-in ballots must be notarized. (Dozens of notaries across the state are offering to notarize ballots for free, as are KC Parks Community Centers for Kansas City residents.)

Missouri voters can download a form to request either type of mail ballot, then fill it out, print it, and send it to their local election authority. Mail ballot requests must be received by 5 p.m. on Oct. 21. Completed ballots must be returned to local election authorities by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Montana

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is allowing individual counties to decide whether to conduct the election with mail voting as the default method, rather than in-person voting. Those counties are sending ballots to all registered voters. But any eligible voter can request an absentee ballot without an excuse by filling out an Application for Absentee Ballot and returning it to their local county election office. The application must be received by noon on the day before Election Day, but of course, you should allow enough time for the office to mail your ballot to you. Completed absentee ballots must be returned, in a signed envelope, to the county election office (or dropped off at a polling place), which must receive them by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Nebraska

Nebraska is mailing absentee ballot applications to all registered voters. The state also allows registered voters to request mail ballots for any reason. Voters can download the early voting form on the Nebraska Secretary of State website, then send the completed form to their local county election officials. Voters can also scan and email the completed and signed form, or even take a picture of the signed form and email that instead. Applications must be submitted to election officials by Oct. 23. Completed mail ballots must be received by local election officials by 8 p.m. CST/7 p.m. MST on Election Day.

Nevada

Nevada is one of the nine states that is mailing ballots to all eligible voters because of the pandemic. The state also allows all registered voters to request mail-in ballots by filling out the Absent Ballot Request Form. The completed form must be sent to the voter’s local County Clerk/Registrar of Votersexcept in Clark County, where voters use a separate website. Requests must be received by no later than 5 p.m. on Oct. 20. Completed ballots must be postmarked by Election Day and received no later than Nov. 10.

New Hampshire

Registered voters in New Hampshire are required to have a valid reason for requesting an absentee ballot or vote-by-mail ballot — and in 2020, concerns over contracting or exposing others to COVID-19 are considered to be valid reasons. Voters must submit an absentee application to their local county clerk. There is no set deadline for submission of applications, but you should make sure your clerk receives it at least 14 days ahead of Election Day, as the approval process can take time. Completed ballots must be received by your local clerk by 5 p.m. on Election Day.

New Jersey

New Jersey is mailing ballots to all registered voters for the 2020 election, and it also allows them to request vote-by-mail ballots for any reason. Voters must fill out the proper mail-in-ballot application for their county, then return it to their county clerk by mail at least seven days prior to Election Day. Completed ballots must be postmarked (or dropped off in person) by Election Day and received by Nov. 10. Ballots without a postmark will be counted as long as they are received by 8 p.m. on Nov. 5 — though some specific counties may have different deadlines.

New Mexico

New Mexico voters may request an absentee ballot for any reason, and some counties are mailing absentee ballot applications to all voters. Registered voters can make this request by applying online, contacting their local county clerk’s office, or downloading an Absentee Ballot Application and mailing it to their county clerk. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. on Oct. 20, either by mail or online. Completed ballots must be returned to the local county clerk’s office or any polling place by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

New York

New York allows voters to apply for vote-by-mail ballots, and while it requires an excuse to vote absentee, COVID is now a valid reason. The state changed its voting laws in August to redefine the “illness” excuse — it now covers instances in which “there is a risk of contracting or spreading a disease-causing illness to the voter or to other members of the public.”

New York City residents can request an absentee ballot online right now. New Yorkers outside the five boroughs can request a ballot via the online form on the state board of elections website; they can also fill out an absentee ballot application form, then print it and send to their local county board of elections no later than Oct. 27. (The state also allows residents to request mail ballots from their county board of elections via email, phone, or fax, or in person.) Completed ballots must be postmarked by the close of polls on Election Day and received no later than Nov. 10; ballots without a postmark will still be counted, as long as they’re received by Nov. 4.

North Carolina

All registered North Carolina voters may request vote-by-mail ballots for any reason. They can do so via the state’s online portal (which also allows for tracking absentee ballots), or by using an Absentee Ballot Request Form. The signed form must be returned to the local county board of elections (via mail, email, or fax, or in person) by 5 p.m. on Oct. 27. Any vote-by-mail ballot for the 2020 general election in North Carolina must be observed by one witness, instead of the usual two. (Information on who can be a witness is available on the board of elections’ website.) A completed and witnessed ballot must be received by the voter’s local county board of elections no later than 5 p.m. on Election Day. As long as ballots are postmarked on or before Nov. 3, they’ll be counted if they’re received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 6. Ballots without a postmark must be received by Election Day to count.

North Dakota

North Dakota allows any resident to apply for a mail ballot; it’s the only state that does not have some form of voter registration. Residents can fill out the mail ballot application online, or use the paper form and return it to their local election officials. There’s no specific deadline for these requests, but you should allow enough time for the ballot to be sent to you. Completed ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 2 and received by Nov. 9.

Ohio

Ohio will send mail ballot applications to all registered voters this year. In addition, voters can request an absentee ballot using the request form. Voters must mail completed forms to their local county board of elections, where they must be received by noon on Oct. 31. Completed ballots should also be sent to the county board of elections, and must be received before the close of polls on Election Day. Ballots will still be counted if they’re postmarked by Nov. 2 and received by Nov. 13.

Oklahoma

Any Oklahoma resident can vote absentee for any reason. Voters can request ballots online or send a completed application form to a local county election board no later than 5 p.m. on Oct. 27.

Depending on how voters fill out the ballot request, they will receive one of two different types of absentee ballots. The most common one comes in a packet with a yellow stripe, but voters who are physically incapacitated (or are caregivers for physically incapacitated people) will receive a ballot in a packet with a pink stripe. For the 2020 election, Oklahoma is also allowing voters to choose the “physically incapacitated” option on the absentee ballot request form for a variety of reasons related to contracting COVID-19.

Oklahoma normally requires absentee voters to get their ballots notarized (standard ballot) or signed by two witnesses (“physically incapacitated” ballot). The state has waived those requirements during the pandemic; instead, voters must submit a copy of a valid ID with their ballot. (The criteria for valid identification is available on the state election board website.) Completed ballots must be received by the county election board before 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Oregon

All registered voters in Oregon received vote-by-mail ballots and simply need to complete them and mail them via the pre-addressed envelopes. Ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Pennsylvania

All registered voters in Pennsylvania can request mail-in ballots either online or by mail, for any reason. Completed applications must be received by your local county election office by 5 p.m. on Oct. 27. Completed ballots must be received by local election offices by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island typically has select criteria to determine who is allowed to vote by mail. However, due to the pandemic, the state is sending mail ballot applications to every registered voter ahead of the 2020 general election. In addition, anyone can request a mail ballot by selecting Option 4 in Box C on the state’s application.

Completed applications must be sent to the local board of canvassers by 4 p.m. on Oct. 13. Completed ballots must be inserted into the Voter’s Mail Ballot Certificate (small envelope) along with the voter’s printed name, a telephone number, signature, and either their state ID number or the last four digits of their Social Security Number. Then the voter can place the Voter’s Mail Ballot Certificate into the larger postage-paid envelope, addressed to the Rhode Island Board of Elections.

South Carolina

All South Carolina voters can vote by mail in the 2020 general election — the state has waived restrictions because of the pandemic, so voters can choose the “State of Emergency” reason. Registered voters can request a mail-in ballot using the printable online application; if they don’t have a printer, they can call or email their local county voter registration office to request that a ballot be mailed to them.

Once the application has been filled out, it must be returned to the local county voter registration office by 5 p.m. on Oct. 24. The application may be returned by mail, email, fax, or personal delivery. Completed ballots — which, due to the pandemic, no longer need to be signed by a witness — can be delivered in person or by mail to the county voter registration office or extension office; the deadline is 7 p.m. on Election Day.

South Dakota

South Dakota voters can request mail-in ballots using the state Absentee Ballot Application Form. These applications will need to be sent to a voter’s local county auditor by 5 p.m. on the day before Election Day. All applications must be notarized or must include a photocopy of an acceptable photo ID. If a voter cannot photocopy their ID, they can take a photo of it and email it to their local county auditor. Completed ballots must be delivered to the local County Election Official on Election Day with enough time for them to deliver it to the relevant local precinct — so try to return ballots as early as possible.

Tennessee

Registered voters in Tennessee may request mail-in ballots for a variety of reasons, but they must provide some reason. Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the only acceptable reasons are that you yourself are especially vulnerable to the virus, or that you are the caretaker of someone who is. These requirements do not require a doctor’s note, but are generally accepted through the CDC’s guidelines on COVID-19 vulnerability. Voters who qualify based on these guidelines can fill out the Tennessee Absentee Ballot Request Form and return it to their local election commission no later than Oct. 27 for the general election. Completed ballots must be received no later than close of polls on Election Day.

Texas

The Texas Supreme Court has expressly forbidden COVID-19 as a reason to vote by mail. Technically, registered Texas voters can select the disabilities option if they feel they are at particular risk of contracting a dangerous case of COVID-19, but even that isn’t expressly allowed, or considered acceptable as a reason to vote by mail. Any Texas voter who meets the state’s strict requirements can apply to vote by mail using a printable form. The form must then be mailed to the county clerk or election administration in each specific county. Applications must be received by Oct. 23. Completed ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Utah

All registered voters in Utah receive ballots in the mail automatically. Simply complete your ballot, then make sure that it is postmarked the day before Election Day.

Vermont

Registered voters in Vermont may request ballots online or by mailing in a printed form that can be sent to the local town clerk. All requests must be made by 5 p.m. on the day before Election Day. Voters can return completed ballots in their specific, signed envelope by close of business the day before Election Day.

Virginia

Virginia allows registered voters to request mail-in ballots for any reason. Voters can register using an online form or a printable PDF form that can be mailed or emailed to a local registrar’s office by 5 p.m. on the eleventh day before Election Day. Completed ballots must be delivered to your local registrar’s office by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Washington

Registered voters in Washington are automatically sent vote-by-mail ballots. Completed ballots must be postmarked no later than Election Day and envelopes must be signed.

West Virginia

West Virginia generally only allows certain registered voters to apply for vote-by-mail ballots. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, any voter can request a ballot by selecting the “medical reasons” option on the application. Registered West Virginia voters can fill out the West Virginia Absentee Ballot Application then send it to their local County Clerk. Applications must be received by the local County Clerk by the sixth day before Election Day. Completed ballots must be postmarked by Election Day.

Wisconsin

Any Wisconsin voter can request a by-mail ballot for any reason. Registered voters can use the Application for Absentee Ballot and mail it to their local municipal clerk’s office. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. on the Thursday before Election Day and must be sent with a copy of photo ID. Completed ballots must be received no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Wyoming

Any registered voter in Wyoming may request an absentee vote-by-mail ballot. To request an vote-by-mail ballot in Wyoming, you will need to contact your local county clerk by email, call, mail, or fill out the online form, and provide them with your full name, date of birth, address, mailing address, the fact that you’re requesting a ballot for the general election, your political party affiliation, and a statement that you are eligible to vote in this election. Completed ballots must be received by the county clerk by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Update (Sept. 22): We’ve updated this article, including the map, with the latest details about absentee voting in South Carolina and Oklahoma.

Source: Polygon.com

If Microsoft Flight Simulator has you craving air combat, try this flight sim next

Microsoft Flight Simulator launched just a little over a month ago, reminding the entire world just how awe-inspiring simulation games can be. While it includes eye-popping terrain and an excellent collection of real-world aircraft, the gameplay is absent of any real feeling of consequence. Push the nose down and fly too fast, get your angle of approach wrong on landing, or lose your bearings in a cloudy mountain valley and the screen just fades to black. The simulation starts all over again as if nothing happened.

If you’re looking for something a little more challenging, for an experience that builds the tension in an almost cinematic way, there are a couple of other games that I’d like to introduce you to. The first is a series called IL-2 Sturmovik: Great Battles, and it might just be the greatest World War II combat flight sim of the last decade.

An excellent point of entry into the series is the latest version, titled IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Bodenplatte, which came out in October 2019. Moving from Flight Simulator’s aerobatic red biplane to a P-51 in IL-2 was surprisingly easy, with the only caveat being that stalling the Mustang is much easier to do and far more difficult to correct. But, after just a few nights of practice, I was strafing ground targets with ease, and holding my own against medium-grade enemy pilots.

The game is also fully compatible with virtual reality, although I had much higher frame rates using a G-Sync monitor and Track IR.

Just flying around in uncontested airspace is lots of fun, but where things get interesting is in the game’s career mode. After practicing at the Mustang for a few nights, I fired up a campaign as a member of the United States’ 378th fighter squadron. The setting was along the Western border of Germany in 1944. It was December, and below me the Battle of the Bulge was raging.

In my first mission, my wing was assigned to protect a formation of A-20 medium bombers over Cologne. We met a wing of Bf 109s over the target, and the fight was on. The hardest part by far, for me at least, was staying in formation. Hanging off my wingman’s left rear, I found myself constantly working the throttle to maintain my distance. As we wheeled in on a pair of German fighters, we split up, each of us taking on a single enemy plane. Minutes later, I found myself miles from the city, running a wounded 109 to ground with sustained fire. Returning to Cologne, I watched in horror as my wingman caught fire, dark clouds of smoke standing out against a landscape covered in snow. I banked to get a clear view, but there was no parachute.

With blood ringing in my ears I pulled up and rolled left, diving to attack the nearest Luftwaffe plane I could find. The enemy pilot performed a split-S — a quick left-and-right maneuver designed to make me overshoot. I scored a quick hit on his underside, but not before slamming into him at high speed. He broke up, but my canopy was blown out. With both me and my plane mortally wounded, there was nothing left to do but bail out. A loading screen informed me that I spent the rest of the war in an interment camp.

So much for my first mission, but those were the stakes in World War II. IL-2 continuously reinforces that theme of consequence, and in order to keep a career going, you can’t just complete your mission objectives and call it a day. You actually have to land the plane safely at your home base, and with the IL-2’s complex damage model, that’s often easier said than done.

Later, on my second attempt at a career, my squadron was jumped by enemy fighters after returning from a ground attack mission. With limited ammunition I had to drive off the attackers, then bring my wounded airplane in for a belly landing. My pilot walked away from the incident, and I’ll be picking up the campaign again another night.

What’s remarkable to me is that while that I was playing IL-2, I felt myself reinforcing the same kinds of skills I had honed in months of playing Microsoft Flight Simulator. World War II air combat is all about knowing the limitations of the aircraft — but also the human inside the cockpit, which isn’t something that Flight Simulator takes into account. I was constantly keeping an eye on the airspeed because I didn’t want to stall, and also because I didn’t want to black out. Fatigue became a real factor inside the simulation, and it seemed like I was able to literally wear out enemy pilots over the course of a battle.

There was also the added complexity of ranging the Mustang’s gyroscopic gunsight and getting a bead on enemy planes. But with everything dialed in, time slipped away last night. Four hours later, I emerged from my home cockpit physically sore.

Of course, IL-2 isn’t new. The Great Battles series is a sequel to a game that came out in 2001. The first entry, IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad, was published in 2013. The game has aged incredibly well, adding in higher resolutions and lots of new content. It also runs like a dream. In combat, on a 1440p G-Sync monitor with an Nvidia GTX 2060 mobile card, I was getting excellent frame rates. Your mileage may vary in virtual reality, however.

The game also includes an in-engine recording suite, so that you can go back and review entire missions from every angle. I probably spent more time watching the war movie that I had made than I did playing the game itself.

While I spent all my time learning the P-51, IL-2 also has a number of other aircraft, each with their own campaigns, careers, and missions to fly. They include the German Bf 109 and Fw 190, the British Spitfire and Tempest, and the American P-47. You can also pilot the world’s first combat jet airplane — the Messerschmidt Me 262. The base game will run you $49.99. The deluxe version, at $79.99, also includes the twin-engine P-38 and and alternate model of the Focke Wulf 190. The base game even includes multiplayer. It’s also available on Steam.

There are plenty of other kinds of combat flight simulators out there on the market if you’re looking to take your flight simming to the next level, and we’ll be looking at more in the coming weeks.

Source: Polygon.com

Whoops, some folks got an Xbox One instead of a Series X pre-order

Xbox Series X and S pre-orders opened on Tuesday morning, and while some folks struggled to complete their transactions, other fans might have found the process easy. Maybe too easy.

As noted by Andrew Alerts on Twitter, orders for the Xbox One X — that is, the current generation of Microsoft gaming hardware — have increased today. Now, some of these folks undoubtedly wanted exactly what they got; maybe they decided the hassle of spending hundreds of dollars on a next-gen console wasn’t worth it. But some others appear to have made a mistake.

On social media, some poor Xbox fans have started sharing stories of accidentally ordering the Xbox One, thinking that they had pre-ordered the Xbox Series X or S.

“I was half asleep and ordered a Xbox One X by mistake FUCK!!” one Tweet reads.

“I happily snagged my ‘Xbox’ at 8am from Best Buy…wondered why it said it would be ready on 9/30…only to realize I had selected an Xbox One S…not Series S,” another wrote.

How does something like this happen? Well, it doesn’t help that some retailers, like Amazon, were late in getting their pre-order pages up. For a while this morning, when I searched “Xbox Series X” on the Amazon store, it would spit back out the Xbox One, along with new bundles for the existing system. It remained this way for nearly an hour, which could have possibly steered folks down the wrong path. At a quick glance, both the Xbox One X and Series X are black boxes, after all.

One Twitter user even shared a screenshot of an Xbox fan on Facebook who tried to make fun of others who couldn’t snag or afford a Series X … only to have appended an order for an Xbox One S. Now that’s some karma.

Then again, when even Microsoft itself mistakes one Xbox console over another, what hope does the average consumer have?

Likely, this problem doesn’t appear to have affected too many people, but chances are very good that some kid, somewhere, will be very disappointed by their well-meaning parents this holiday season. Our heart goes out to them in advance.

Let’s just hope that anyone who made this mistake notices it in time to cancel their order. Already, the confusion is causing some to double-check their receipts just in case.

Source: Polygon.com

Super Mario Galaxy’s cursed mushroom got fixed on the Switch

Meet Kinoko. Does it seem like a normal mushroom power-up in a Super Mario game? Well, it’s not. This little guy right here once determined whether or not Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 could properly exist and be played.

As The Cutting Room Floor documents, Kinoko is a mushroom that exists within the files of both Wii-era platformers, and while you never see the mushroom in-game, the titles both need it. “If the file isn’t present, the game crashes,” TCRF wiki entry states.

According to Nintendo hacker ecumber05, Kinoko’s model data is still alive and present in Super Mario 3D All-Stars, the new Switch collection containing three classic games. In an email, ecumber05 noted this was surprising, because behind the hood, it does seem like some unused models were removed in the newest version of the game.

At Polygon’s behest, ecumber05 got together with modder firubiii to fiddle with the Kinoko Switch files and, according to both of these tinkerers, the mushroom appears to be neutralized. Firubiii took the model data out of the game, and Galaxy still successfully booted.

“I also looked for references in the code to the mushroom, but I found nothing,” ecumber05 said in an email. “I think it’s safe to conclude all ties to the mushroom were removed in this version.”

Why did so much hinge on a mushroom in the first place? The leading hypothesis is that at one point during development, the mushroom might have been playable in an early prototype of Super Mario Galaxy. Polygon could not find references to this online, but whatever caused it in the first game likely migrated to the second game because Nintendo re-used some of its resources for the sequel.

All of this has bubbled back up into conversation thanks to a viral Twitter post by Boundary Break YouTuber Shesez, who recently posted a funny Tumblr exchange about game development. In it, fans marvel at finding something random in a game, while a developer explains that taking this random thing out will make the game collapse.

The mushroom, while a recent example, is far from the only killer “tomato” that allows games to properly function.

“When I worked at EA I was told the nascar team had to leave a field goal post under the world because it broke the game if it was removed because of old madden code in the game,” developer Chris Wingard said on Twitter. Many other game workers commiserated in the replies over their own load-bearing tomatoes, or mushrooms that they had heard about in other games.

If you know anything about game development, the existence of things like Kinoko should be no surprise: nearly every title is held together by proverbial duct tape, after all.

Source: Polygon.com

Fruits Basket will return for a third and final season in 2021

The second season of Fruits Basket ended with a big, emotional reveal — but the series won’t return till next year to explore those ramifications.

The third season of Fruits Basket will be the show’s final one. This version of the show, which premiered in 2019, hews to the original manga more closely than the 2001 anime. Fruits Basket follows a plucky orphan named Tohru Honda who finds herself entangled with the mysterious Sohma family. Certain members of the Sohmas are inflicted with a curse that turns them into animals of the zodiac when hugged by someone of the opposite sex. All of them follow the will of mysterious family head, Akito.

The show dives deep into the emotional turmoil and trauma of all the characters, and really feels like an anime embodiment of the “terrifying ordeal of being known” meme. Season 2 introduced new characters like Kureno, the rooster of the Zodiac, and student council members Machi and Kakeru Manabe.

Fruits Basket season 3 will debut in 2021, though Funimation has not announced a specific date. The company did reveal a season 2 recap graphic:

a banner of moments from season 2 of fruits basket Image: TMS/8PAN/Funimation

Source: Polygon.com

Destiny 2 guide: Signal Intercepted quest

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, Bungie launched a new quest to honor the memory of a fallen co-worker from Vicarious Visions — Bungie’s partner studio when it was still working with Activision. Matt Helsom’s quest doesn’t appear in your inventory, but it’ll net you an Exotic Cypher if you can find his work station on Mars.

To find Helsom’s work station, land on Mars and make your way toward the Mindlab — north of the Braytech Futurescape landing zone. Follow the path until you reach the small computer room with a ton of Thrall. Defeat them and crawl through the tube toward the Mindlab proper on the map.

The work station looks like this!
Image: Bungie via Polygon

Immediately after you get out of the tube, turn right. If you reach the dark room with the Warsats, you’ve gone too far.

There’s a new door open, and inside is a little work station with a glass of water, a sticky note that says “Hot Dog!,” and a red keyboard. When you walk through the door, you’ll get an investigate prompt. This can be kinda finicky, especially if you’re in a group. Orient yourself until you find it. Investigate and then go back to Ana — there is no dialogue or special sound.

Bungie loving, in-universe memorial for Helsom
Image: Bungie via Polygon

Ana will give you a nice message and offer you an Exotic Cypher, a new material you can use to get old Exotics you’ve missed from the Cryptarch or get a second Exotic from Xur in a given week. Note that you can only have one Cypher per account. Once you accept the Cypher, you’ve finished the quest, and helped Bungie honor the memory of Matt Helsom.

Source: Polygon.com

The Soggy Bottom Boys are reuniting this October

Hot damn! It’s the Soggy Bottom Boys!

In one of the few bright spots of 2020, the principal cast of the Coen brothers’ 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou? is reuniting online this October. A tribute to the film is slated as part of this year’s Nashville Film Festival, featuring a discussion with George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson. The tribute will also feature musical performances from Chris Thomas King, Carlene Carter, and Dan Tyminski, who provided Clooney’s singing voice in the film.

The event is meant to highlight both the film’s 20th anniversary and the effect the film’s soundtrack had on raising awareness of folk and bluegrass music, especially as the soundtrack won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2002.

The event is free for Nashville Film Festival passholders. If you’d just like to view the event, tickets are available for $12 on the Film Festival site. The tribute will be available to watch from Oct. 1 through Oct. 7.

Source: Polygon.com

Chip’s Challenge is free on Steam

Chip’s Challenge is now free on Steam, the developer announced on Twitter on Tuesday. The classic top-down puzzle game was originally published in 1989 for the Atari Lynx, but gained a cult following when it was ported to Windows in Microsoft Entertainment Pack 4.

The mechanics of Chip’s Challenge are simple. Each level consists of a tiled grid. One of the tiles will lead to the next level, but it’s guarded by a chip socket. In order to move on, the player character, Chip, must collect a number of computer chips to unlock the exit portal. Various obstacles hinder him, including enemies, movable blocks, locked doors, and difficult terrain (ice, fire, water, etc.). Along the way, Chip can pick up tools to help him, including keys, fire boots, ice skates, and flippers.

The version available on Steam has 144 levels to complete, with each level increasing in difficulty. It also allows you to choose between the original Atari aesthetic or the Windows version.

Like many ’90s kids, Chip’s Challenge was my first gaming addiction. I remember sitting in front of my cousin’s PC collecting chips for hours on end and keeping a notebook of level codes so I could pick up where I left off even if one of my cousins reset the game. But I was surprised to learn that there is actually an overarching narrative to Chip’s Challenge. (All of my memories are tied to the levels themselves.) The titular Chip is, according to an opening crawl, high schooler “Nerdy Chip McCallahan,” who has a crush on “Melinda the Mental Marvel.” In order to impress Melinda and gain entry to her exclusive Bit Busters Club, he must make his way through a series of puzzles.

Chip’s Challenge has been available on Steam since 2015, when it dropped alongside a sequel, Chip’s Challenge 2. The sequel had been out of development and ready to go since 1999, but as Ars Technica reported back when the two games launched on Steam, it was caught up in a decades-long publishing battle. With Chip’s Challenge 2 in limbo, developer Chuck Sommerville created a spiritual successor called Chuck’s Challenge 3D, which was successfully crowdfunded through Kickstarter and released on Linux, Mac, and Windows PC in 2014.

Chip’s Challenge is free to play on Steam, while a bundle featuring the original title, Chip’s Challenge 2, and Chuck’s Challenge 3D is available for $11.23. Chip’s Challenge 2 and Chuck’s Challenge 3D retail individually for $4.99 and $9.99, respectively.

Source: Polygon.com

Peach sex game 8 years in the making hit with Nintendo takedown

In 2012, a developer named Ivan Aedler uploaded an erotic fan game starring Princess Peach to the internet. The hentai-inspired game, Peach’s Untold Tale, racked up millions of views on adult websites over the years. Aedler updated the game frequently, but it wasn’t until 2020 that the fan-developed game drew Nintendo’s ire.

As originally reported by TorrentFreak, Peach’s Untold Tale was recently hit with a copyright takedown from Nintendo, so it’s no longer possible to download and play the title. Instead, when you load up the former Github page that contained Peach’s Untold Tale, you are presented with a public notice letter that reads, “The copyrighted works are Nintendo’s characters and audio-visual works from its Super Mario video game franchise.” The DMCA notice says that Peach’s Untold Tale fell beyond fair use claims, despite the creator claiming it was a porn parody that could theoretically could fall under fair use.

When it was available, the game allowed Princess Peach to have sex with (and become impregnated by) Super Mario enemies like the Goomba, or dress up in a variety of costumes. Footage shows Princess Peach sleeping with a number of characters, and players could choose different ways for the sexual acts to conclude. The last update for the game hit on April 19, when the developer told players who supported his Patreon that he would “prefer to be dead” than “abandon” the game. All the same, Peach’s Untold Tale went on an extended hiatus that was worsened by the coronavirus.

“With the urgent cases of COVID-19, I am safe and checking my schedule to continue the game,” Aedler wrote in March 2020. Aedler’s Patreon currently collects $175 a month, though Peach’s Untold Tale was available for free.

Source: Polygon.com

Blue Xbox Series X controller revealed, coming at launch

On Monday — just hours after it revealed its purchase of Bethesda and a day before Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S pre-orders officially go live — Microsoft unveiled its line of controllers and accessories for the next-gen Xbox.

On Nov. 10, Microsoft will release the new Xbox Wireless Controller in Carbon Black (to match Xbox Series X) and Robot White (to match Xbox Series S). Microsoft will also sell a new variant, Shock Blue, seen in the image above. Those controllers will run players $59.99 each, the same price as Xbox One controllers.

Microsoft will also offer a PC controller bundle that includes the Xbox Wireless Controller in Carbon Black and either the Wireless Adapter for Windows 10 or USB-C Cable, depending on the bundle you choose. The controllers also have built-in Bluetooth, if your PC supports that.

The Xbox Wireless Controller is slightly different from the Xbox One controllers players are familiar with. It includes a hybrid D-pad and some textured grip on the back. It also offers a Share button, similar to Sony’s DualShock 4 controller. The new Xbox Wireless Controllers work on the Xbox Series X, Series S, Xbox One, Windows 10 PC, and mobile devices that support controllers.

As always, Microsoft will sell a rechargeable solution — the Xbox Rechargeable Battery and USB-C Cable bundle — which removes the need for AA batteries. The “play-and-charge” successor will run players $24.99.

Microsoft also revealed that the Xbox Design Lab — an online store where players can build and customize their own Xbox controllers — will go on hiatus starting Oct. 14. Players can order personalized Xbox One controllers up until Oct. 13. Microsoft will then take the service offline to update it for the Xbox Series X and Series S generation. The Xbox Design Lab will return sometime in 2021.

Players can pre-order the different controller variations and the Xbox rechargeable battery bundle starting Sept. 22. They will launch alongside the Xbox Series X and Series S on Nov. 10.

Source: Polygon.com