With only five days to go before Election Day, voters are being urged to avoid using the U.S. Postal Service to send in their mail ballots.
Potential uncertainty in mailing ballots this close to the election has been something that election administrators nationwide have expressed concerns about, and the Maryland State Board of Elections echoed those worries Wednesday.
“While we don’t anticipate any issue with ballots already cast by mail, we are closely monitoring reports from the United States Postal Service that delivery times continue to be considerably longer than normal,” said the board’s administrator Linda Lamone, in a news release.
Lamone urged voters to instead use one of the 284 authorized ballot drop boxes that Maryland has available for voters this year.
“This will allow them to be confident their vote will be received and counted in a timely fashion,” said Lamone.
“Because the drop boxes remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, voters can cast their ballots at whatever time is most convenient for them. Since ballots are collected daily, voters can also rest assured their vote will be received and counted by the deadline.”
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D.C. voters can use ballot drop box locations.
Aside from the drop boxes, voters in Maryland and D.C. have other options too.
Ballots can be submitted in-person at any early voting center or at polling locations on Election Day.
In Virginia, voters can turn in their ballot at their general registrar’s office or at polling locations on Election Day.
“Additionally, you may drop-off your completed, sealed ballot at any drop-off location in your county or city,” said the state’s department of elections. “A list of drop-off locations is available on your county or city’s official website.”
Around the country, at least 35 million mail ballots had been returned or accepted as of early Wednesday, according to data collected by The Associated Press. That surpasses the 33.3 million total mail ballots returned during the 2016 election, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
Yet, an estimated 1.9 million ballots were still outstanding in Florida, along with 962,000 in Nevada, 850,000 in Michigan and 1 million in Pennsylvania.
Combined with early, in-person voting, at least 71.5 million votes have already been cast, more than the total number of advance votes four years ago.
Many states made it easier to request a mail ballot this year amid the coronavirus pandemic and concerns about crowded polling places on Election Day.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.