New Democracy Maps

Third Party Ballot Collection Policies

Third party ballot collection, which is also referred to negatively as “ballot harvesting,” refers to a voter allowing another individual to return their completed ballot. MAP has analyzed each state law to determine whether a given state’s restrictions on ballot collection are overly burdensome to voters. Restrictions on ballot collection can disproportionately affect Native voters, disabled voters, and other voters such as those in remote locations. Factors considered in our scoring include: 1) Who can collect a ballot; 2) How many ballots can be collected; 3) In what circumstances ballot collection is allowed; 4) Whether compensation is prohibited for ballot collection; 5) Time limits in which ballots must be returned; 6) Criminal penalties associated with ballot collection; and 7) Other restrictions such as requiring notarization for a ballot collected by a third party.
United States Map
Washington New York U.S. Virgin Islands Puerto Rico Guam Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands American Samoa New Hampshire Vermont Virginia Pennsylvania New York Maine West Virginia Ohio Kentucky Indiana Michigan Illinois Wisconsin North Carolina South Carolina Tennessee Georgia Florida Mississippi Missouri Arkansas Louisiana Iowa Minnesota Oklahoma Kansas Nebraska South Dakota North Dakota Texas 33 Colorado Wyoming Montana Idaho Arizona Utah Nevada Oregon California Hawaii Alaska Massachusetts Rhode Island Connecticut New Jersey Delaware Maryland Washington D.C. New Hampshire Vermont
  • State does not overly restrict ballot collection or has no restrictions (16 states + D.C.)
  • State overly restricts ballot collection (29 states)
  • State only allows the voter to return mail ballot (5 states)
Note: In July 2023, a federal District Court temporarily blocked enforcement of some provisions of Mississippi's ballot collection law relating to third party assistance and related criminal penalties. Mississippi law still provides that only the voter themselves may return their ballot in person. The challenged provisions apply to third party assistance in returning ballots through the mail. 

Recommended citation:  Movement Advancement Project. "Third Party Ballot Collection Policies." Accessed 07/31/2023.

Breakdown by Population

*Note: These percentages reflect the voting-eligible population, as reported by the United States Election Project.


9 % of voting-eligible population lives in states that only allow the voter to return mail ballot


60 % of voting-eligible population lives in states that overly restrict ballot collection


31 % of voting-eligible population lives in states that do not overly restrict ballot collection or has no restrictions

Data current as of 07/08/2024
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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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