Keep Tabs on Your Mail-in Ballot

Mail-in ballots accompanied by small text that says "EXPLAINER" and large text that says “Tracking Your Mail Ballot"

More people are voting by mail in this election than ever before. To help give voters peace of mind, 45 states and Washington, D.C. allow you to track the progress of your ballot.

Similar to how you would track a package, states offer different options for tracking the status of your ballot. With the help of the U.S. Postal Service, many states send ballot return envelopes with a unique set of numbers for each voter — these are referred to as Intelligent Mail Barcodes. Some states will ask for this number to track your ballot or simply ask for your name, birthday and zip code.

But ballot tracking doesn’t end once your ballot has been received. You need to ensure that your ballot is counted. Election laws like signature matching, secrecy envelopes and witness requirements could cause your ballot to be rejected. While many states notify you if your ballot is challenged, you should check the status of your vote in case you miss a call or email asking you to fix your ballot. 

To ensure your ballot is counted, you should continually check on the status of your ballot. Some states will provide detailed updates at each phase of the mail-in process, whereas others will only let you know if your ballot has been received.

Here are the three main phases of ballot tracking.

1. Mailed

Some states will tell you when your ballot’s barcode has been scanned by the Postal Service. This lets you know that your ballot is in the mail and on its way to the election office. If you used a drop box to submit your ballot, you will not see this status.

2. Received

Once your ballot arrives at your county election office, your ballot tracking status may update to reflect that your ballot was received. Remember that this does not necessarily mean that your ballot has been counted.

3. Counted

Some states will inform you that your ballot has been counted, whereas others will not. If your ballot has been flagged for rejection, it is important to call your local election officials immediately to try and fix any problems. This is called the “cure process.”

Keep in mind that each state has different systems for status updates and timelines for when they can start counting ballots. For example, in Pennsylvania your ballot status will change to “vote recorded” when the county office has received your ballot, but that does not mean your vote has been counted. The counting of votes does not start until 7 a.m. on Election Day.

Track your ballot today!

Below is a list of ballot tracking services by state. If your state doesn’t provide ballot tracking, contact your local election officials for more information. You should also take time to familiarize yourself with the different ballot status options your state uses. Most importantly, be aware of your state’s cure deadline in case your ballot is rejected and you need to correct your vote.