In the last two years, former President Donald Trump has led a movement to crack down on what’s known as ballot collection. This is when another person or group helps a voter deliver their absentee ballot. Trump and others, such as those behind the film “2000 Mules,” falsely claim it’s behind widespread voter fraud. 

The practice has been legal in many states, but the rules have changed in a lot of places. Six states – Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Georgia, Texas and Kentucky – have added criminal penalties to ballot collection since the 2020 general election, as an investigation from Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

Election attorneys and voting rights experts worry these laws will scare people away from voting. Indeed, the rules can be confusing and vary vastly from state to state.

So we’ve created this guide to make sure you know the rules where you live, listed alphabetically by state.

Find your state: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Who Can Actually Return My Absentee Ballot?

ALABAMA: Only you can deliver your ballot.

ALASKA: This state does not specify who can deliver a ballot on your behalf, unless you have a disability. It’s best to consult your local election official. If you have a disability, you can authorize anyone to deliver your ballot through special needs voting. The person delivering your ballot cannot be your employer, an agent of your employer, someone from your union or a candidate. 

ARIZONA: Only a family member, household member or caregiver can deliver a ballot on your behalf. 

ARKANSAS: You can authorize anyone to deliver your ballot, as long as the person shows their ID to the county clerk and signs an oath. A designee can deliver ballots for no more than two voters per election.

CALIFORNIA: You can designate anyone to deliver your ballot, as long as the person does so no later than three days after receiving it and does not receive compensation for doing so.

COLORADO: You can choose anyone to deliver your ballot, but only election officials can return more than 10 ballots.

CONNECTICUT: Only an immediate family member can deliver a ballot on your behalf. If you cannot physically vote due to illness or disability, you can designate a family member, caregiver (including a doctor or nurse), police officer or election official to deliver your ballot. 

DELAWARE: This state does not specify who can deliver a ballot on your behalf. It’s best to consult your local election official.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The district does not specify who can deliver a ballot on your behalf. It’s best to consult your local election official

FLORIDA: You can designate anyone to deliver your ballot, but a designee may not deliver more than two ballots on behalf of anyone outside of their family. If you need assistance voting due to disability, blindness or inability to read and write, you can designate anyone to deliver your ballot, as long as the person is not your employer, an agent of your employer or someone representing your union. 

GEORGIA: Only a family member or household member can deliver a ballot on your behalf. If you have a disability, an adult family member, household member or caregiver can deliver your ballot. For voters in custody, a detention facility employee can deliver their ballots as well.

HAWAII: This state does not specify who can deliver a ballot on your behalf. It’s best to consult your local election official.

IDAHO: This state does not specify who can deliver a ballot on your behalf. It’s best to consult your local election official.

ILLINOIS: You can authorize anyone to deliver your ballot. If you’re physically incapacitated or hospitalized, a worker from the facility at which you’re residing can deliver on your behalf as well.

INDIANA: Only a member of your household or your attorney can deliver a ballot on your behalf. 

IOWA: Only an immediate family member or household member can deliver a ballot on your behalf. If you have a disability, you can designate someone else to deliver your ballot. That person must be a registered voter and cannot be your employer, an agent of your employer or registered in your union.

KANSAS: You can designate anyone in writing to deliver a ballot on your behalf.

KENTUCKY: Only a family member, household member or caregiver can deliver a ballot on your behalf.

LOUISIANA: You can designate anyone to deliver your ballot, as long as the person signs a statement prepared by the secretary of state confirming the voter’s consent. Only an immediate family member may deliver more than one ballot.  

MAINE: You can designate anyone to deliver your ballot. A designee is required to deliver the ballot no later than two days after receiving it. If a designee is not your immediate family member, your ballot must be notarized or signed by two witnesses before return. 

MARYLAND: You can designate anyone in writing to deliver a ballot on your behalf, as long as the person is at least 18 and is not a candidate.

MASSACHUSETTS: Only a family member can deliver a ballot on your behalf.

MICHIGAN: Only an immediate family member or household member can deliver a ballot on your behalf. If none of those options are available, an election official can provide assistance delivering your ballot.

MINNESOTA: You can designate anyone to return your ballot. A designee can deliver no more than three ballots.

MISSISSIPPI: This state does not specify who can deliver a ballot on your behalf. It’s best to consult your local election official.

MISSOURI: Only a relative “within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity” can deliver a ballot on your behalf.

MONTANA: Anyone can deliver your ballot. Montana had passed a stricter ballot collection law, but its provisions are not in effect, as a state court ruled this month that it was unconstitutional. 

NEBRASKA: This state does not specify who can deliver a ballot on your behalf. It’s best to consult your local election official.

NEVADA: You can authorize anyone to deliver a ballot on your behalf.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Only a family member can deliver a ballot on your behalf, unless you live in a residential care facility. In that case, an administrator or staff member of the facility may also deliver your ballot. If you are blind or disabled, the person who assisted you with your ballot may also deliver it, as long as that person signs a statement acknowledging the assistance. In all cases, the person delivering your ballot must complete a form and present their ID upon return.

NEW JERSEY: You can authorize anyone to deliver your ballot, but the person cannot be a candidate and must provide proof of identity when submitting your ballot. A designee can deliver no more than three ballots or no more than five for immediate family members living in the same household.

NEW MEXICO: Only a caregiver or immediate family member can deliver a ballot on your behalf.

NEW YORK: This state does not specify who can deliver a ballot on your behalf. It’s best to consult your local election official.

NORTH CAROLINA: Only a “near relative or verifiable legal guardian” can deliver a ballot on your behalf.

NORTH DAKOTA: You can designate anyone to deliver your ballot, as long as the person is not a candidate. No designee may receive compensation or deliver more than four ballots.

OHIO: Only a family member can deliver a ballot on your behalf.

OKLAHOMA: Only your spouse can deliver a ballot on your behalf.

OREGON: You can designate anyone to deliver your ballot, but the person must do so within two days of receiving it. 

PENNSYLVANIA: Only you can deliver your ballot, unless you have a disability. In that case, you may designate an agent on a government-issued form to deliver a ballot on your behalf. The designee must also complete the form. 

RHODE ISLAND: This state does not specify who can deliver a ballot on your behalf. It’s best to consult your local election official.

SOUTH CAROLINA: You can designate anyone in writing to deliver your ballot, but the person cannot be a candidate or paid campaign worker, unless the person is a member of your immediate family.

SOUTH DAKOTA: This state does not specify who can deliver a ballot on your behalf, only that an “authorized messenger” may do so in the case of sickness or disability. If an authorized messenger is delivering ballots on behalf of more than one voter, the person will need to notify a local election official.

TENNESSEE: This state does not specify who can deliver a ballot on your behalf. It’s best to consult your local election official.

TEXAS: Only a household member or a relative “within the second degree by affinity or the third degree by consanguinity” can deliver a ballot on your behalf. 

UTAH: Only a household member can deliver a ballot on your behalf. If you need assistance with voting due to age, illness or disability, you may designate anyone to deliver your ballot, as long as the person is not your employer, an agent of your employer or union, or a candidate. 

VERMONT: This state does not specify who can deliver a ballot on your behalf. It’s best to consult your local election official.

VIRGINIA: Only you can deliver your ballot in person. Virginia does not specify who can deliver a ballot on your behalf via mail or drop box. 

WASHINGTON: This state does not specify who can deliver a ballot on your behalf. It’s best to consult your local election official.

WEST VIRGINIA: This state does not specify who can deliver a ballot on your behalf, though state law prohibits anyone from hand-delivering more than two ballots. It’s best to consult your local election official.

WISCONSIN: Only you can deliver your ballot, unless you have a disability. In that case, you may designate anyone to deliver your ballot, as long as the person is not your employer or an agent of your employer or union.

WYOMING: This state does not specify who can deliver a ballot on your behalf. It’s best to consult your local election official.

For up-to-date information regarding where your state currently stands on ballot collecting, check the National Conference of State Legislatures or the Movement Advancement Project and consult your local election official. 


This story was edited by Andrew Donohue and Maryam Saleh and copy edited by Nikki Frick.

Farah Eltohamy is Reveal’s 2022-23 Roy W. Howard investigative reporting fellow and can be reached at feltohamy@revealnews.org. Follow her on Twitter: @farahelto.

Farah Eltohamy is the 2022-23 Roy W. Howard Fellow for Reveal. She received both her master's and bachelor's degrees at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. While at ASU, Eltohamy interned for The Texas Tribune, NPR and The Arizona Republic and served as diversity officer for ASU's student newspaper, The State Press. Her reporting has also appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and National Geographic. In 2020, she won a National Association of Black Journalists Salute to Excellence Award for her reporting on the lack of a census category for people from the Middle East and North Africa. Outside of news, Eltohamy can be found painting, thrifting and spending time with her grumpy old cat, Tito.