Absentee Ballot vs. Mail-In Ballot: Is There A Difference?
Yes, it’s complicated. But we’ve got a primer for you on absentee ballots vs. mail-in ballots. And please note: use the information in this article for your general information, but consult your local election officials for when and how you may vote. To get started, visit usa.gov and vote.gov.
What is an absentee ballot?
Let’s start with some election basics. Normally, most US voters cast their ballots in person in a polling booth at a polling place/station based on where they are registered to vote. A ballot is the physical form (or electronic voting machine equivalent) that a voter fills out; it lists the candidates, issues, and so on that a person votes on.
An absentee ballot is a ballot used to cast an absentee vote, which is submitted, usually by mail, by an absentee. Absentee, here, refers to a person who can’t physically be present at a voting center on Election Day. Absentee voting in America goes back to the Civil War era, and every state allows this kind of voting in some form—and federal law, in fact, requires ballots be sent to military and overseas voters for federal elections.
To get an absentee ballot, a registered voter must request one through their state government, which accepts or rejects the application...
What is a no-excuse absentee ballot?
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia** use what’s sometimes called a no-excuse absentee ballot. This is similar to the strict absentee ballot previously noted in the 16 states above, but a registered voter doesn’t have to give a reason (excuse) why they can’t be at their polling location on Election Day. However, the states themselves may simply call this ballot an absentee ballot.
The lexical wrinkles don’t stop there! Some of these states (e.g., Pennsylvania) may refer to the no-excuse absentee ballot as a mail-in ballot...
So, what is a mail-in ballot?
Five states—Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Utah, and Hawaii—already conduct their elections through a mail-in process that’s often referred to as all-mail voting. Registered voters in these states automatically receive a mail ballot, which is sent to their address before Election Day and mailed back by the voter or deposited at a voting location or secure dropbox by a certain time on Election Day...
There's more at the link...
... and IF the state scrubs their voter rolls, the unsolicited mail in ballots MIGHT actually be OK.
Have the elections in WA state been above board since they moved to this approach? How would you know? It's certainly turned bright blue...
In NC there are approximately 2M names on the voter rolls who are NOT ALIVE or NO LONGER LIVING in the state. These people will ALL get ballots under the new scheme, and you can bet that the majority of them will be mailed in.
NC does not plan to scrub their voter roles before the election in November.