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WASHINGTON — The Covid-19 pandemic has changed how many Americans have chosen to cast their ballots this year. Because of the pandemic and the new surge in Covid-19 cases, many voters are taking precautions to avoid in-person voting.

With almost 70 million Americans who have already voted, that number represents half of the voters that cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election.

For those who planned to mail in their ballots, time has probably already run out.

In September, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) sent every American household a postcard that advised voters to “mail your ballot at least 7 days before Election Day.”

“We’re less than a week out from the election, I recommend that yesterday was the last night to mail in ballots,” Nicole Donaghy, executive director of the North Dakota Native Vote, said.

Election officials across the country are advising voters not to put their ballots in the mail. According to tracking reports from the USPS, nationally 85.6 percent of all first-class mail was delivered on time the week of Oct. 16; that’s the 14th consecutive week the on-time rate sat below 90 percent for mail that should reach its destination within three days.

Deadlines for mail-in voting vary from state to state and some may change before Election Day because of pending court cases. To make sure you have the right due date for your ballot, consult with your local election official. Drop boxes have one-way openings, tamper-proof locks and video monitoring.

CLICK here to visit your state’s voting guidance to ensure your ballot is counted.

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