Does your state have early voting? Check below to see if you can cast your vote early.
Brace yourselves: Election Day has begun.
Some federal write-in absentee ballots, which are typically reserved for people serving dangerous foreign deployments or stints on submarines, have already started to come in. And that trickle of ballots will soon become a flood, with early voting set to begin in several states around the country.
The first round of early ballots will be dropped in the mail in North Carolina on Friday, kicking off a nearly nine-week sprint of early and absentee voting before the final results are tallied on Nov. 8.
Alabama elections officials will begin putting ballots in the mail on Sept. 15. By the following week, ballots from all 50 states will be on their way to members of the Armed Services and registered voters living abroad.
On September 23, voters in Minnesota will be the first with a chance to cast their ballots early, at in-person locations around the state. Polls open in South Dakota and Michigan the following day. By the end of September, voters in seven states will be able to cast ballots in person.
The popularity of early and absentee voting has exploded in the last decade and a half. In 2000, about one in five voters cast their ballots before Election Day. In 2016, more than a third of voters are likely to cast their ballots early this year, according to Michael McDonald, a political scientist who tracks the early vote at the University of Florida.
“We’ve been on an upward trend of early voting since really the late 1970s,” McDonald said. “Part of what we see in the upward trend is that more states will offer early voting options.”
Since the 2012 elections, in which 32 percent of voters cast ballots early, two states have made significant changes that give voters more access to early ballots: New Jersey now allows voters to obtain an absentee ballot without an excuse, four years after Hurricane Sandy shut down voting in some coastal cities. And Colorado now mails ballots to all of their registered voters.