Events of the past few weeks have left many voters asking about alternatives to the US Postal Service to ensure their vote counts this November. “Cost-saving” changes made to the USPS by Trump donor-turned-Postmaster General, Louis Dejoy, led to days-long mail delays across the country. Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic shows no sign of slowing before November, leading millions of Americans to register to vote by mail to avoid voting in-person and risking their health.
The combination of these unprecedented challenges has led to widespread fear over what David Wasserman called “a perfect catastrophe of administrative overload, postal delays and voter error that could lead to millions of absentee ballots not counting.”
Voters concerned about the current crisis facing the USPS and what it could mean for their ballot arriving by Election Day have several options:
1. Vote early in person. Early voting allows voters to vote in person without waiting in crowded or long lines. Forty-one states have some form of early voting in place and may start as early as 45 days before Election Day. Many states also have weekend early voting options. Make sure to check with your local election office to see if they extended early voting due to the pandemic.
2. Use a ballot drop box. Many states and counties provide ballot drop boxes as a secure and convenient option for voters to return their sealed and signed mail ballot. Drop boxes skip the mail process entirely, allowing voters to drop off their mail ballots and have them be taken directly to county offices. Boxes are placed in many convenient locations such as outside community centers, near public transit routes or on college campuses. Check with your local election office to see if there are ballot drop boxes in your community.
3. Drop off your ballot at an election office or polling location. Almost all states permit voters to return a delivered ballot in person at their local election office, but not everyone lives close to their election office. That is why many states allow voters to drop off their signed and sealed ballots at any in-person voting location in the county. Check with your local election office to see if you can drop off your ballot at a polling location closer to your home.
4. Organize community ballot collection. Many states allow designated organizations, election officials or family members to collect a voter’s signed and sealed ballot and submit the ballot on behalf of the voter. This option is vital for high-risk voters who are unable to leave their home to cast a ballot. Check who can collect your ballot in your state.