Emergency during the election? Various states allow patients to vote from hospitals

An unexpected emergency on Election Day may leave some voters questioning how to make their vote count. Luckily hospitals and health systems are making it possible for patients to submit their ballots from inside the facilities.

While the rules vary slightly by state and by county, patients may be allowed to vote by absentee ballot if they are unable to travel to a polling location on Nov. 8.

Many states have last-minute absentee ballot provisions for medical emergencies, including the following:

  • In Virginia, if an eligible voter becomes ill or hospitalized before an election, the individual can still vote via an emergency absentee ballot.
  • In California and Massachusetts, proxy individuals — such as family members of those in the hospital or hospital volunteers — can pick up ballots at local election offices on Election Day.
  • Hospitalized patients in Ohio are eligible to vote from the hospital as long as they were admitted after 12 p.m. on Nov. 6 and before 3 p.m. on Nov. 8, according to Pat McDonald, the board of elections director for CuyahogaCounty. The parents of hospitalized children are also eligible to vote from the hospital.

To view your state's absentee voting policies, click here.

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