Feb 21st, 2024

Early Mail Voting: Absentee Voting’s Cousin

Effective January 1, 2024, early mail voting is an option for qualified voters for a school district in connection with an election or referendum. The rules and procedures will look and feel very familiar to District Clerks, as they are modeled on what is required for absentee voting. There is no requirement for school districts to make physical, in-person early voting locations available for voters.

Early mail voting is, in essence, absentee voting without needing to provide a reason as to why the voter is not able to vote in person. While an application is required, the voter must indicate only that they are a qualified voter and wish to vote early by mail. For school districts using a system of poll registration, the school district must develop its own early mail voting application. For school districts using a system of personal registration, a standard application will be available on NYSED’s website in the same manner a standard application is made available for absentee voting.

Envelopes for the return of early mail ballots require slightly modified language for the voter certification; there will be no reference to an inability to vote in person on early mail voting envelopes. Similarly, the reverse of an early mail voting ballot state “official ballot, early mail voter” while the reverse of an absentee ballot states “official ballot, absentee voter.”

Timelines for issuing and receiving early mail applications and early mail ballots mirror those for absentee ballots as well: a voter wishing to have an early mail ballot mailed to them must file an application at least seven days prior to the vote, while a voter wishing to personally receive an early mail ballot must file the application at least one day prior to the vote. Early mail ballots, just as absentee ballots, must be received by 5:00 p.m. on the day of the vote.

The legal notice for the annual meeting and general election must be updated to contain specific language to inform voters of their right to early mail voting.

Questions regarding the documents, procedures and requirements for early mail voting may be directed to our office.


Heather M. Cole

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