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Voting By Mail? Don't Procrastinate, Officials Say

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New leadership is cutting costs at the U.S. Postal Service in a way that's backing up mail around the country, and many are concerned that could impact mail-in ballots ahead of the election on November 3. In the Mountain West, how your ballot could be affected depends on where you live.

Click 'play' to hear the audio version of this story.

For example, in Nevada – where legislators on Sunday passed a bill to mail ballots to all active voters – ballots must be postmarked by Election Day and arrive at a county office within seven days after that, according to Nevada's secretary of state's office. (The new legislation there could extend that seven-day window.) If the ballot isn't postmarked, it needs to arrive within three days after the election.

The rules are similar in Utah, where every voter receives a mail-in ballot. Their ballots must be in the mail the day before Election Day, and arrive within six days after the election.

The rest of the states in the Mountain West require that ballots make it to county election offices – whether they're mailed, dropped off and cast in-person – by election night.

"We certainly recommend that anyone not procrastinate in any way, shape or form," said Chad Houck, the Idaho secretary of state's chief deputy. "There are so many variables that you just can't anticipate when you talk about these timelines of ballots moving back and forth."

The Postal Service recommends requesting a mail-in ballot at least 15 days before November 3 and sending it in at least a week before that day.

However, all ballots can still be hand-delivered to designated election offices on voting day and still be counted.

As the Mountain West News Bureau has reported, voting by mail is a safe and secure way to vote amid the coronavirus pandemic, and there's little evidence to support President Trump's claims of fraud.

Visit vote.org for more information.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio News

Madelyn Beck is a regional Illinois reporter, based in Galesburg. On top of her work for Harvest Public Media, she also contributes to WVIK, Tri-States Public Radio and the Illinois Newsroom collaborative.
Madelyn Beck
Madelyn Beck is Boise State Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. She's from Montana but has reported everywhere from North Dakota to Alaska to Washington, D.C. Her last few positions included covering energy resources in Wyoming and reporting on agriculture/rural life issues in Illinois.
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