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Voting by mail is a safe option during coronavirus. Here’s what you need to know about absentee ballots in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Johnathan Lai & Julia Terruso | May 22, 2020 | Philadelphia Inquirer |


Voting by mail is likely the safest way to cast a ballot during the coronavirus pandemic, allowing you to avoid polling places where you face contact with other people and touch voting machines, pens, or other materials shared with other voters and poll workers.

Elections officials have plans to disinfect machines and other objects, as well as to provide sinks for hand-washing or hand sanitizer, but for voters, absentee ballots require none of that.

Even in the best of times, some advocates and officials say more voters should use absentee ballots, which let them take time with their selections, as well as the flexibility to choose when to vote.

Now, even more people are urging their use, as it reduces the risk of coronavirus transmission.

But most voters in Pennsylvania have never done it, since a new state law for the first time allows any voter to use an absentee ballot without giving a reason. (New Jersey has had a “no-excuse” system for a while.)

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