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US elections 2020: Can I vote by mail without an excuse?

Election officials prepare for greatly increased mail-in voting and voters are wondering whether to vote in person or by mail, and if they can do so if they choose the latter.

FILE PHOTO: Yard signs supporting U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden are seen outside of an early voting site at the Fairfax County Government Center in Fairfax, Virginia, U.S., Septemb

As election day on Tuesday, 3 November comes barreling down with just 40 days left and counting, voting has already begun in some states. However, due to the fear of the coronavirus and worries about long lines awaiting voters if they go to cast a ballot in person many, Americans are looking at the option of mail-in voting. 

Many doubts have been cast on the reliability of voting by mail, which President Donald Trump has criticized on several occasions over the past few months. However, the evidence doesn’t justify the constant attacks on absentee voting that have been broadcast by the President or his supporters as shown by numerous studies.

Even the right-leaning Heritage Foundation’s running list of examples of voter fraud show that the absentee ballot fraud rate over the past 20 years has been less than 0.00006% of total votes cast as reported on PBS Newshour.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Cecil Airport in Jacksonville, Florida, U.S., September 24, 2020.
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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Cecil Airport in Jacksonville, Florida, U.S., September 24, 2020.TOM BRENNERREUTERS

Can election officials handle the flood of ballots?

The main worry is that election officials won’t be able to handle the influx of an unprecedented number of ballots expected to be cast. Many states have been ramping up their ability to handle the volume of mail-in votes. Several state legislatures have also been working to make it easier for voters in their state to apply for and cast an absentee ballot. Apart from seven states coronavirus has been made a valid excuse for voting absentee where an excuse is needed.

For information regarding whether you can vote by mail, voters can go to the official U.S. government website to search for your state orlocal election official website. The Federal Voting Assistance Program another official US government website provides a list of all the local elections offices in the US where you can enquire for information and request a ballot. The New York Times also provided a detailed look at where Americans can vote by mail in the 2020 elections.