BOSTON (CB)S -- More than 200,000 mail-in ballots have already been mailed out to voters in Massachusetts as of Monday, said Secretary of State William Galvin. More than 1.6 million mail-in ballots have been requested and Galvin expects that number to grow in the coming weeks.
The last day to request a mail-in ballot is Oct. 20. The last day to register to vote in person is Oct. 24.
Unlike with the primary election, any mail-in ballot postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 6 will be counted. But Galvin said that is not a reason to wait. "I think it's important to know that but I also think it's important that they vote as soon as possible if they can. If they have fully decided for whom they want to vote and their decisions on the questions, there is no reason to delay."
Galvin said if a voter returns their mail-in ballot early but it can't be accepted because the instructions weren't followed, for example, because it is not signed or if there is no envelope, "then there will be the opportunity for the local officials to not only reject it but mail them out a second ballot and notify them so they will have the opportunity to correct the mistake they made."
The state is working to make sure secure mail-in ballot drop boxes are available in all communities. Ballots can also be dropped off at early in-person voting sites, which begins on Oct. 17 and goes until Oct. 30.
Early in-person voting allows people to hand over their ballots to officials immediately and is "an opportunity to have fewer people voting with you when you vote because our experience with early voting in person has been that it's segmented over a longer period of time," Galvin said.
He stressed the importance of every voter making a plan for how and when they will vote.
"We're all very cognizant of the continued presence in our midst of the coronavirus. The unsettling numbers of the last few days have surely raised the issue once again for many voters about the safety of any activity."
According to Galvin, the state is taking safety seriously and has made spacing a priority. "We have worked with local election officials to make sure that they have larger spaces. We've instructed them to find as large a space as they can," he said.
Hand sanitizer, PPE, and clear plastic barriers are being supplied to voting sites.
"No voter should have to compromise their safety to participate in this election. I don't believe that anybody will."
On Nov. 3, Galvin expects at least one million people to vote in person.
Ballots are not counted until 8 p.m. on Nov. 3.
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