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Updated on Oct 9, 2020. Posted on Oct 6, 2020

Here's How You Can Actually Vote Safely In The Coronavirus Pandemic

Make your safe voting plan, and stick to it.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you're probably VERY aware that there's a big election currently underway in the United States. People across the country are already casting their ballots in anticipation of Election Day on Nov. 3.

Joe Biden and Donald Trump
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The stakes of this election couldn't be higher, and it's vital that ALL eligible US voters make their voice heard this year. But with the COVID-19 pandemic still posing a serious health risk to Americans, perhaps you're wondering: "Is it actually safe to vote?"

A face mask with an I Voted sticker
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And the answer, my friends, is YES. There are still ways to vote safely in the pandemic. Let's break down the three primary methods of voting this year, and how safe they are in the age of COVID-19.

CBS

1. We'll start with the safest choice: voting by mail. Mail-in voting, aka absentee voting, is the act of filling out your ballot at home, and then mailing it to your local elections office to be counted.

A mail-in ballot
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The process for voting by mail varies by state — some states are automatically sending mail-in ballots to every registered voter this year, while other states will only send one if you specifically request it. Most states will indeed let you vote by mail because of the pandemic, but you can find specific information about your state here.

A woman voting by mail
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Mail-in ballots are the safest way to vote in the the age of COVID-19, because you can do it right from the comfort of your couch! No lines, no crowds, and no human interaction required. Oh, and today just so happens to be #MailReady Day — a day to encourage all eligible voters to request their mail-in ballots if they haven't already. Do it right now here.

"I voted by mail" stickers
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But voting by mail isn't the only way to cast your ballot before Election Day! Which brings us to the second way you might choose to vote in 2020...

Universal

2. Let's talk about EARLY VOTING. Did you know that many states allow you to vote in-person before Election Day? You can find out if it's an option in your state — and how to go about it — right here.

A sign on the door of a building that reads "EARLY VOTING HERE"
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Early voting comes with so many benefits! It's often faster and more convenient than voting on Election Day. And, because you'll beat those Nov. 3 crowds, it's a safer bet in the age of COVID-19. Just don't forget your face mask, because even if there is no line, you'll likely have to go inside a building and interact with a poll worker.

A woman filling out a ballot with a face mask on
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3. And finally, there's the option to show up to the polls on Election Day to vote. Voting this way will require extra caution given the pandemic — but if mail-in voting and early voting aren't options for you, there are concrete steps you can take to make your visit to the polls as safe as possible.

People standing in line outside to vote, wearing masks
Andreypopov / Getty Images

Wear a mask, and practice social distancing at all times. Carry hand sanitizer. Pay close attention to posted signs and any instructions you're given from poll workers. They're there to keep the lines moving and make sure everyone stays safe. And try to go during times when you think the polls will be less crowded — for example, midday might be less busy than right after 5 p.m. when everyone gets out of work.

A woman holding up an "I voted" sticker
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Ultimately, whether you vote by mail, vote early in-person, or vote on Election Day...PLEASE JUST VOTE. And take every precaution you can to protect yourself and your community in the process. Together, we can make sure that everyone gets to participate in their democracy safely this year.

HBO

Need help getting ready to vote this year? Check out Facebook's Voting Information Center. It's full of valuable resources for voters — you can get registered, request your absentee ballot, learn about your early voting options, and more, all in one place!

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