Mail-in vs. absentee voting - here’s what you need to know

Voting safely during a pandemic remains the main topic of concern ahead of the November election.

For months, President Trump has been speaking out against mail-in ballots claiming it would cause widespread voter fraud—a claim not supported by any evidence or measurable statistic.

Both absentee and mail-in voting use the Post Office to deliver you your ballot.

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Absentee voting requires you to apply for a ballot to be sent to you. 

With mail-in voting, registered voters are automatically sent their ballot without needing to apply. 

Absentee balloting has traditionally been used for voters who aren’t present to cast their vote in person. For years, a reason was needed in order to qualify. That’s no longer the case in many states including Virginia, Maryland and D.C.

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Sixteen states, including West Virginia, use absentee balloting as the only form voting through the mail.

In Maryland, all registered voters are being sent an application for a mail-in ballot. Those applications will be going out by the end of this month.  You can also apply for one online.  The deadline to apply is Oct. 27.

In Virginia, you’ll still to apply to vote absentee by mail. Log onto the state’s election website, follow the requirements and apply. The deadline for your application is Oct. 23.

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Finally in the District, the election board says they’ll mail every registered qualified voter an actual ballot for the election. However, D.C. voters can still apply online for an absentee ballot. That deadline is Oct. 27.

As for the claims of voter fraud with mail-in voting, The Heritage Foundation says there’ve been 250-million votes cast by mail over the past 20 years. Of those, only 1,285 proven cases of voter fraud exist. That’s a little more than 5 ten-thousandths of a percent.