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Experts recommend voters hand-deliver ballots as Election Day nears

By Phil McCausland, NBC News | October 29, 2020

Some experts are encouraging voters to turn in their ballots at drop boxes and avoid sending them by mail with the election less than a week away.

With the U.S. Postal Service continuing to face scrutiny over mail slowdowns and Election Day coming up, voting experts said dropping off ballots by hand or voting in person is the best way to ensure ballots are counted at this point.

Bob Brandon, the president of Fair Elections Center, said his organization has generally been supportive of mail balloting, but sending ballots by mail gets dicier by the day.

"As is always the case people wait or, in some places, people have not gotten their requested ballot in time," he said. "The general advice now is really to think of an alternative to putting something in the mail. If your state has drop boxes or other places to drop off your ballot, then do that."

Otherwise, voters can drop ballots off at their local board of elections or should consider voting in person. If they choose in person and have an absentee ballot, Brandon recommended that they bring it with them.

"They will either let you vote or give you a provisional ballot and count it if they don't receive an absentee ballot," he said.

Some states have different windows for when they can receive a voter's ballot, so individuals should check their state deadlines.

The time crunch is particularly significant in the more than two dozen states that require that mail-in ballots be received by Election Day — including the swing states of Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin.

The issue has become more complex with recent Supreme Court decisions that will affect some states' ballot-counting plans in response to the pandemic.

Though the Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina and Pennsylvania could continue their ballot extensions, the court blocked Wisconsin's plan to count ballots carrying a Nov. 3 postmark and received up to six days after Election Day. Those ballots now must be in the possession of election officials by 8 p.m. on Tuesday to be tallied.

U.S. Postal Service spokesman David Partenheimer said that the agency's top priority remains delivering ballots in a secure and timely fashion, but he said they continued to recommend that voters mail their completed ballot before Election Day and at least one week prior to the state's deadline.

"The Postal Service has not provided a deadline for mailing a return ballot, and will continue to accept ballots as they are presented to us," he said. "However, voters should consider state deadline requirements when deciding how to return their ballots."

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