I take voting seriously. Not only is it a privilege of being a citizen of the United States, I believe it is everyone’ civic duty. It is important on the local, state and federal levels.

In addition to actually casting a ballot, people need to be informed about who and what they are voting for. Knowing a person’s party should not be enough reason to vote for her or him. There are qualified and unqualified people in each party who may or may not represent your beliefs. Then again, I have been registered undeclared for years because neither of the two main parties do it for me.

One thing that will be different about the Nov. 3 election is that more people will be able to vote by mail. This has to do with states changing regulations based on the pandemic. So many people don’t want to be in crowded places to risk contracting the virus. It’s estimated that at least 83 percent of voters will be able to mail in their ballots this fall.

Because of COVID-19 California, Nevada, Vermont, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., are mailing ballots to all registered voters. States where an excuse is required to receive an absentee ballot include Texas, New York, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Indiana. In all other states it’s possible to get a mail-in ballot. Still, it is possible to go to the polls or drop off the ballot on Election Day.

Even before the pandemic hit, five states conducted all elections by mail. They are Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah. Oregon has been doing it the longest—since 1998. California, Nebraska and North Dakota allow counties to determine if an election is mail-in only.

Plenty of misinformation has been circulating on social media and via news outlets about the dangers of voting by mail. It’s safe. The fraud is a fallacy. It’s the same method the president uses to vote. The Trumps are registered to vote in Florida. They most recently voted by mail in March 2020. In 2018 he voted absentee with a New York address. The Pences are registered in Indiana. Politicians voting by mail is not new or unusual.

In fact, the whole concept of voting by mail is not new. The practice started during the Civil War. To this day hundreds of thousands of people in the military vote by mail. People who live oversees vote by mail.

The U.S. Postal Service this month mailed out postcards explaining the vote by mail process.

In California and Nevada (and other states) it is possible to request a permanent absentee ballot. I did years ago. I can’t remember how long I have been voting absentee, which is the same as voting by mail. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s different. I like taking my time to mark the ballot. I also like sending it in early. I’m doing my research now on local issues so I know how to vote.

However you choose to vote—just do it!

California dates:

  • Oct. 19—Deadline to register to vote online or by mail.
  • Oct. 20-Nov.3—Conditional voter registration for those who missed the above deadline. These ballots are processed after the elections office completes the voter registration verification process.
  • Oct. 5-Nov. 2—Early voting. Dates and hours are up to individual counties.
  • Every active, registered voter living domestically will be mailed a ballot no later than 29 days prior to Election Day.
  • Military and overseas voters will be mailed their ballots 45 days before Election Day.
  • Fill out this form to vote by mail.

Nevada dates:

  • Oct. 6—Deadline to register to vote by mail or in person. (However, it is possible to register on Election Day in person.)
  • Oct. 29—Deadline to register to vote online.
  • Oct. 17-Oct. 30—Early voting. Dates and hours depend where a person lives.
  • Expect absentee ballots to arrive the first week of October.
  • Oct. 20—Last day to request absentee/mail-in ballot.
  • Questions about absentee voting, call 775.684.5705.

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