Expert Commentary

When can your state start processing advance ballots? Check out this interactive timeline

Learn when your state can start processing advance ballots for the November 2020 general election.

Advance ballot processing
(Thomas Cizauskas / Flickr / Creative Commons)

The 2020 U.S. election season will see millions of Americans cast their votes for president, other offices and ballot measures by mail or by delivering them to a local drop box or polling location. Some states allow election officials to begin processing those advance ballots before Election Day. In other states, election officials have to wait until close to or on Nov. 3. Several states are allowing longer processing periods only for the 2020 general election.

Processing isn’t the same as counting, but it’s important, often time-consuming work — things like sorting ballots into voting districts — that needs to happen before advance ballots can be counted. States that get their advance ballots ready sooner will be able to count votes and report results faster come Election Day.

This timeline shows when your state election officials can start processing votes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures:

Want to embed the timeline? timeline.js.

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