You have options — vote!

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As Election Day approaches, we have witnessed fierce debates erupt over voting by mail. It is an issue that both Democrats and Republicans have argued could determine the presidential election results, changing the country for years to come. President Trump and other prominent Republicans have made apparent efforts to cast doubts on the reliability of mail-in voting, stoking fears about voter fraud and suggesting the process could compromise election results. Conversely, Democratic leaders have vigorously defended mail-in voting and have accused Republicans of intentionally attempting to sabotage the process in order to win in November.

With a national focus on the battle over voting by mail, at times, it has seemed as if mail-in voting is the only option you can choose. It’s not — there are other options you should consider for how to cast your vote. 

Voting by mail is “safe,” meaning that studies have consistently shown no evidence of widespread mail-in voter fraud in the U.S. However, other issues ought to be considered. We’ve seen attempts by the current administration to cut funding for the USPS before the election; forcing the service to undergo changes that, if successful, would hinder the postal service’s ability to serve as the means for returning completed ballots. Even if the USPS can perform this service, the uncertainty around the process will lead to too many Americans wondering if their vote was actually counted.

Additionally, we should be wary of human error. All of us make mistakes, but unfortunately, even the smallest mistake can have significant consequences when filling out a mail-in ballot. In New York and many other states, trivial errors like not checking a box or forgetting to sign the back of your return envelope can lead to the invalidation of your ballot. In these states, where mail-in ballots are counted by both Democrats and Republicans searching for reasons to eliminate votes for the opposing party, small errors can lead to your vote not being counted.

Of course, for some away from home this November, voting by mail is a good choice in order to make your voice heard. Request your ballot as soon as possible, be thorough to avoid mistakes when filling it out and be sure to return it on time to the proper location. 

However, if you’re at home this year, be proactive and make sure your voice counts. New York offers early voting — a nine-day period before Election Day when you can vote. Early voting is from Oct. 24 to Nov. 1, and you can vote at any polling location in your home county on any of those days. It’s easy, convenient and polling places will abide by the appropriate health and safety protocols because of the wide range of dates and times. Visit your local board of elections website to learn where you can vote early. 

If you do not want to vote on Election Day but are worried about mail-in voting, early voting is a safe and proven alternative. You have options, make the best choice for you and vote.