In the U.S. some (all?) states allow mail-in ballots.

Let's imagine the case of someone who is well informed of their state laws on mail-in ballots and did all the procedures to be able to send it. That person sends their mail-in ballot on time and the counting center receives that ballot before election date.

Unfortunately, that person dies before the election date.

Is that ballot still valid?

  • 5
    Too broad; the law varies state to state. Some throw it out, some count it.
    – Dan Scally
    Nov 9, 2020 at 10:43
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    Some states also start counting mail-ins quite a bit before Election Day... it seem particularly tough to think it could be thrown out once it's already counted. Nov 9, 2020 at 10:51
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    @jeopardytempest good point, the Question ought really be anchored about ballot validation date rather then election date.
    – BobE
    Nov 9, 2020 at 15:37
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    I agree that it seems weird on principle, but since many (all?) states allow for early voting, the end result would not be diferent from an elector voting early and dying at a later day, and in those cases it would be impossible to retract the vote.
    – SJuan76
    Nov 9, 2020 at 18:26

1 Answer 1


Does a mail-in ballot stay valid if the voter died between mailing it validly and the election date?

For some states, yes. For others, no.

What If an Absentee Voter Dies Before Election Day?, October 20, 2020

What happens when an eligible voter casts an absentee ballot and then passes away before Election Day? This question comes up more and more, as absentee/mail voting, and even early in-person voting, gain in popularity.

Do these pre-Election Day votes count? Like everything else related to elections, the answer varies from state to state. By our count, statutes in at least 13 states (Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Tennessee and Virginia) direct election officials to count these ballots.

Again by our count, 13 states go the other way and are clear that these ballots are not to be counted: Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky (by an AG’s opinion, 77-667), Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Catching a ballot, then, is only possible for ballots that are still in their return envelopes. How quickly do election officials get notice of deaths? Fortunately, most statutes make it clear that these ballots are to be rejected only if the election administrators know about the death—and also that if a vote is counted that shouldn’t have been, it does not invalidate the election.

  • Then there are states that do not have explicit instructions regarding this matter. Ohio, as an example, counts the majority of absentee ballots prior to Election Day. If, depending on timing of ballot verification and a voters death, a ballot might be invalidated, but it would seem to not be associated with the date of Election Day.
    – BobE
    Nov 9, 2020 at 15:32
  • Do these states typically apply similar rules to early in-person votes if the voter dies before election day?
    – jkej
    Nov 9, 2020 at 20:19
  • @jkej Consider asking this as a separate question on this site (after searching for potential duplicates).
    – njuffa
    Nov 9, 2020 at 20:42
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    @jkej - With early in-person voting, the vote was recorded along with all others on that day and there is no way to separate and remove an individual's vote due to their demise. In that sense, the rules are the same, it can not be done.
    – Rick Smith
    Nov 9, 2020 at 20:59

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