President Trump and his minions have done their best to question the legitimacy of and discourage people from voting by mail, even though it's an option the president himself uses. With the nation still in the grip of a pandemic, many people, especially the most vulnerable, will see mail-in voting as their best option. Absent evidence of large-scale abuse, fraud or any other negative the president wishes to apply to it in his attempt to suppress the vote, mail-in voting will be major factor in next month's election.
But for those who harbor lingering doubts about mailing, especially given recent problems with the post office – every week we receive emails and calls about people wondering why their paper is late, or relating stories of not getting mail one, two or even three days a week – there is another option.
Early in-person voting in Massachusetts begins this Saturday and runs through Oct. 30. For those with health concerns who don't want to risk the lines that are likely at the polls on election day, early voting offers the opportunity to cast a ballot in a more relaxed, less crowded situation. Because it is spread out over two weeks, there are likely to be fewer people voting early at any one time than will be going to the polls on election day. The format is secure, basically the same as voting on Nov. 3, and there are both weekday and weekend hours to accommodate every schedule. It seems to us that this is a more civilized way to conduct an election, with polls open for a couple of weeks rather than a single day, so every voter has the opportunity to cast a ballot when it is convenient for them. It's too bad the nation seems wedded to the single-day election. Early voting as allowed in Massachusetts and more and more states is a positive step in improving election access. See our story on page 7 for exact dates and hours of local early voting.
For those who have already requested mail-in or absentee ballots and are having misgivings about trusting the mail, there is another option. Local town clerks have set up drop boxes where you can securely leave your ballot. Unlike Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott is trying to limit drop boxes to one per county – severely disadvantaging voters in a state where counties can be as big as Connecticut – the drop boxes in Chatham, Harwich and Orleans are easily accessible. Leaving a ballot in a drop box will ensure that it is counted on what will likely be the most important presidential election days in recent history. You can request a mail-in ballot until Wednesday, Oct. 28; but a word of advice: don't wait until then. If that's how you want to vote, request your ballot now.
Of course, polls will be open on Nov. 3 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Presidential elections traditionally result in large turnouts, but this year, town clerks and their staffs will likely be just as busy counting ballots cast prior to election day.