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Absentee ballot

    An absentee ballot is a vote cast by someone who is unable or unwilling to attend the official polling station Numerous methods have been devised to facilitate this Increasing the ease of access to absentee ballots are seen by many as one way to improve voter turnout though some countries require that a valid reason such as infirmity or travel be given before a voter can participate in an absentee ballot

    Methods

    Postal voting

    In a postal vote the ballot papers are posted out to the voter - usually only on request - who must then fill them out and return them often with some form of certification by a witness and their signature to prove their identity

    Proxy voting

    To cast a proxy vote the user appoints someone as their proxy by authorising them to cast their vote The proxy must be trusted by the voter as in a secret ballot there is no way ofverifying that they voter for the correct candidate In an attempt to solve this it is not uncommon for people to nominate an official of their chosen party as their proxy

    Internet voting

    It has often been suggested that methods be put in place to allow voting over the internet Users would log into a secure site and register their vote electronically As of March 2006 no country has used internet voting in a major election as there are unresolved issues over security and fraud

    Worldwide views

    United Kingdom

    In all United Kingdom elections postal votes are available on demand - no reason must be given - although a vote-rigging scandal involving postal votes marred the 2005 Birmingham local election

    United States

    In the United States an absentee ballot is a ballot that the voter receives and (usually) sends through the mail rather than travelling to a polling place and marking the ballot at a voting booth (In this context the term "absentee" has no negative connotation)
    Typically a voter must request an absentee ballot by mail at least a week before the election occurs In most states voters may request "permanent absentee ballot" status in which the state will send the voter an absentee ballot every time there is an election
    The voter reads the voter's guide pamphlet and marks his ballot which may be an optically read ballot marked with a pen or pencil or may be a punch card ballot He then mails the ballot to the state or may bring the ballot in person to a polling place
    Each state has different laws regulating when absentee ballots must be counted and who does the counting Most states count absentee ballots on Election Day though some allow counting to continue for several days after The last deadline is 10 days after Election day (for Washington DC and for overseas absentee ballots sent to Florida)
    Most other democratic nations also offers absentee ballot for their voters like Germany or France etc
    See also: Postal voting

    Oregon

    Unlike any other state the ballot in Oregon is mailed to all residents who are then supposed to fill out the ballot and bring it to a drop box The term "absentee ballot" in Oregon refers to mailing the ballot to the county elections official and not merely to receiving the ballot in the mail As with most states Oregon residents must register in advance to be able to vote via absentee ballot

    California

    California's Secretary of State has reported that in every general election since 1993 between 20% and 30% of ballots cast have been absentee ballots

    Texas

    In the state of Texas its residents are legally allowed to cast absentee ballots from space and is the only state that allows this

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