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Are absentee votes and mail-in votes different?

Max Pepper/CNN

What’s the difference between absentee voting and mail voting?

What’s the difference between absentee voting and mail voting? There really isn’t any difference. Both refer to the practice of filling out ballots that are sent to voters through the mail and returned either that way or at drop boxes or other designated places.

President Donald Trump has claimed that absentee balloting is fine, while mail balloting is not. Absentee voting, the president sometimes argues, means someone has to request a ballot as opposed to automatically getting one in the mail, which he calls mail voting.

All states offer voters the chance to cast absentee ballots if they can't make it to the polls on Election Day; some states call this process vote-by-mail. Other states offer universal mail-in voting, which is largely the same thing on a larger scale.

To Vote Absentee…

Voters must request a ballot from the local or state office that administers elections. Some states require a valid excuse for why you cannot vote on Election Day, while others offer "no-excuse" absentee voting.

With Mail-In Voting…

Election administrators send ballots to every registered voter in the jurisdiction before Election Day. Several states do this for all elections, while others have adopted it in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Both Cases…

Voters sign and return their ballots by mail, or to elections offices or designated drop boxes if provided. State deadlines vary for when a ballot must be received to be counted.

Envelopes are opened by elections officials, who verify the voter's signature against one on file. Ballots are separated from envelopes and processed; states have varying timelines for when ballots may be opened and tabulated.

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Cases: 304023

Reported Deaths: 3580
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin641421113
Ramsey27059502
Anoka21526225
Dakota21268190
Washington13529113
Stearns13524108
St. Louis8433108
Scott820154
Wright746139
Olmsted653534
Sherburne570941
Clay483956
Carver455913
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Kandiyohi396821
Crow Wing353431
Nobles304929
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Otter Tail300522
Benton293348
Winona273730
Mower257423
Douglas250735
Polk248923
Morrison228029
Lyon213411
Beltrami211917
McLeod205011
Becker199815
Goodhue196728
Steele19137
Itasca185523
Isanti184917
Todd178413
Carlton177715
Nicollet158725
Freeborn15125
Mille Lacs149931
Le Sueur144911
Cass138610
Waseca137811
Brown136415
Pine13138
Meeker12398
Roseau11454
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Martin111220
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Murray5783
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Pope5281
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Jackson4841
Marshall4758
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Unassigned36759
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Mahnomen2904
Grant2726
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Red Lake2053
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Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 225897

Reported Deaths: 2345
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33451334
Linn14206164
Scott1116385
Black Hawk10849134
Woodbury10323124
Johnson948636
Dubuque918291
Story677621
Dallas633657
Pottawattamie624570
Sioux369125
Webster357833
Cerro Gordo351544
Marshall347846
Clinton327540
Buena Vista304114
Des Moines287920
Muscatine286468
Warren279611
Plymouth274242
Wapello255071
Jones229813
Jasper217443
Marion204320
Lee202217
Carroll197322
Bremer194212
Henry18227
Crawford174316
Benton169519
Tama153840
Jackson144313
Delaware143221
Washington140214
Dickinson138210
Boone136311
Mahaska126727
Wright12336
Clay11714
Buchanan116410
Hardin115010
Page11294
Clayton11105
Hamilton11059
Cedar107413
Harrison106729
Calhoun10617
Kossuth10566
Floyd104116
Mills10407
Fayette103310
Lyon10268
Butler10116
Poweshiek98913
Winneshiek96212
Iowa94612
Winnebago91723
Hancock8607
Louisa85816
Sac8578
Grundy85611
Chickasaw8494
Cherokee8374
Cass80823
Allamakee79911
Mitchell7884
Appanoose78710
Humboldt7695
Union7676
Shelby76211
Emmet76024
Guthrie75215
Franklin73521
Jefferson7112
Madison6804
Unassigned6620
Palo Alto6514
Keokuk5967
Pocahontas5574
Howard5529
Greene5220
Osceola5211
Ida48713
Clarke4824
Taylor4643
Montgomery46211
Davis4619
Monroe44312
Adair4408
Monona4332
Fremont3573
Van Buren3555
Worth3550
Lucas3236
Decatur3160
Wayne2987
Audubon2952
Ringgold2112
Adams1692
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