Preparing To Vote: Crucial Deadlines & Online Information
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utahns planning to vote in the 2020 presidential election need to make sure they beat several deadlines coming up in the next few weeks, whether they vote by mail or in-person.
Prior to the pandemic, Utah was one of five states that automatically mailed a ballot to all registered voters.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed that, and now four more states are following the Beehive State.
“We’ve been conducting our elections through mail for several years now with great success, state elections director Jason Lee said. “One of our successes is that we have a very good working relationship with our local post office officials because we’ve been running these elections by mail for so many years.”
Lee said the state has had ongoing discussions with the Postal Service on it has assured it can handle of the volume of ballots expected this year.
“Voting by mail is not new for us and it’s not new for them. Voting by mail is safe, it’s secure, and every vote is counted. So please take advantage of this great resource, there’s no easier way to vote than by mail,” Lee said.
Utah law allows ballots to go out 21 days ahead of an election.
Registered voters can expect to see their ballots next week as the U.S. Postal Service will be shipping them out, starting Oct. 13.
Lee said voting by mail can make you an informed voter. “Getting the ballots early allows you to take the time to research the candidates and issues and make decisions in the comfort of your own home.”
He explained there are possible drawbacks for waiting until November 3 to vote at the polls or drop off your ballot. “Anyone who waits until election day runs the risk of standing in a long line at the polls and when you get to the front of that line and get your ballot you may be disappointed to find out it’s the exact same ballot that was already mailed to you and you’ll probably just be pointed in the direction of the nearest drop box to submit that ballot.”
Voting by mail has one other benefit that is specific to 2020. “In a year with a pandemic, it’s vitally important that we maintain physical distancing. Voting by mail or dropping your ballot in a drop box will keep us safe. So please, save time, stay safe and vote that by mail ballot,” Lee finished.
Mail in ballots must be postmarked and sent in by Nov. 2. If Utahns choose to return their ballots in-person, it must make it to a return box by 8 p.m. on election day.
In August, legislative leaders decided there will be more in-person voting options available for Utahns.
“Our polling locations are reserved this year for those people who need extra assistance,” Lee added in regards to voting on election day. “If you lost your ballot, if you never received your ballot, or if you’re one of those voters who needs to vote on the aviate accessible machines, that’s when you should show up to the polling locations.”
Starting on Oct. 26, early in-person voting locations will open. In Salt Lake County, voters can cast a ballot in-person as soon as Oct. 20 at their county government center.
Utahns must register before voting. You can do so online, send in a paper form to your local clerk, or drop it off in person. The final day to register online is Oct. 23.
People can still register in person with appointments afterward, or they can register the day of the election when they vote in-person on Nov. 3.
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