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Don’t want to vote at the polls? There are 12 reasons you can ask for an ‘absentee ballot’

An illustration showing a bald eagle in flight with an envelope titled "official election mail" held in its talons. (Provided Photo/Brent Aldrich for Mirror Indy)

INDIANAPOLIS (MIRROR INDY) — When I started this job in January, I told my editor I was an extrovert. But the truth is, I really enjoy my alone time. I moved here from Ohio, where introverts like me can request an absentee ballot simply to avoid busy polling places on Election Day.

Voting absentee–or not in person at the polls–is meant to be a way to make voting easier and more accessible for people who qualify. In Indiana, though, you can only ask for an absentee ballot for 12 reasons, and being an introvert is not one of them. 

How do I request an absentee ballot? 

You fill out a request form, and if your request is accepted, a secure envelope containing a ballot is sent to your home. You can spend time researching your choices, then return your completed ballot by mail or in-person. 

The deadline to request a ballot for the May 7 primary election is 11:59 p.m. April 25. The deadline to return it is 6 p.m. on May 7. 

What are the 12 reasons you can request an absentee ballot?

Voting absentee is meant to be a way to make voting easier and more accessible. You can find the official language for the reasons you can request an absentee ballot on section five of the request form. They are: 

  1. Having a specific reason to be out of Marion County for all of Election Day. 
  2. Being confined to your home or a healthcare facility on Election Day because of illness or injury. 
  3. Caring for another person who is  confined to a home or healthcare facility on Election Day because of illness or injury. 
  4. Working all day on Election Day.
  5. Being at least 65 years old. 
  6. Working as a poll worker outside of your voting precinct. 
  7. Being a voter who has disabilities. 
  8. Qualifying as the state’s definition of a “serious sex offender.”
  9. Using what the state calls a “fail safe” procedure, which requires a form called the VRG 4/12 for people who are updating their voter registration at the same time they’re requesting an absentee ballot. 
  10. Not having transportation to the polls.
  11. Being a member of the Indiana National Guard who is deployed or on assignment in Indiana, or a public safety officer. 
  12. Observing a religious holiday all day on Election Day.

What forms of ID do I need to request an absentee ballot?

Indiana’s absentee ballots look a little different now. If you look at the request form, called an ABS-MAIL form by the election board, section three is new. Voters now have to provide two forms of identification by writing the numbers on the form and including photocopies in the envelope with the application. 

A screen capture of an absentee ballot request form. (Photo by Mirror Indy)

Making a mistake on the form could cost you your vote

In November’s general election in Marion County, more than 300 of the 43,000 absentee voters made errors – they didn’t include an ID, used an ID that couldn’t be confirmed or used the wrong form. If you make a mistake and don’t get it resolved in time, your vote may not count.

Four ways to make sure your absentee ballot counts

  1. Include two forms of ID with your request form, along with photocopies. 
  2. When you receive your ballot, make sure your precinct code is correct and there are two sets of initials, one from a Democratic clerk and one from a Republican clerk. If the ballot is incorrect or missing information, you can return it and request a new one using the ABS-5 form. Find more details in this guide.
  3. Ballots must be received by 6 p.m. on May 7.. Mail it at least 14 days before the election to leave time for it to arrive. You can also take your ballot to any early voting site or vote center location.
  4. If you can’t take the ballot in-person, you can have another person do it for you. That person has to be your attorney or a family member through birth, marriage or adoption, and they have to fill out this form

For more questions about requesting and turning in absentee ballots, read this guide on Find all the forms, including absentee ballot request forms for voters who are in the military, overseas or have a visual disability, here.

Have a question about how things work in Indianapolis? Email Sophie Young, service journalism reporter, at