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Answering common election questions ahead of November

Heading into the highly anticipated November general election, Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane answered popular viewer questions.

BOISE, Idaho — As the November election draws near, KTVB viewers have questions about the highly anticipated general election. To answer those election questions, KTVB spoke with Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane. He runs elections for Idaho's most populated county.

Election officials are happy to answer questions, they hope it will help encourage voters to cast their ballot.

A lot of people are used to just going to the polls and casting their vote on Election Day. But with COVID concerns, thousands and thousands of Idahoans are expected to vote through the mail.

For some, there isn't the same level of confidence in the security of the mail-in vote compared to going to the polls.

Terri wrote to KTVB wanting to know if mail-in votes are vulnerable to fraud and what the risks are.

McGrane explains mail-in votes are secure in Idaho, starting with when a voter requests a ballot.

"A key part of that process is we're actually validating the registration, making sure their information is current before ever mailing those ballots out," McGrane said. "Then once the ballot goes out the voter has the opportunity to vote the ballot, when they come back in, we check the signature on every single ballot that comes in, it's one of the ways we authenticate to make sure the person voting the ballot is the person they say they are. And so, we'll go through that entire process for all those ballots this election to make sure they're secure."

RELATED: What will in-person voting in Idaho look like this November?

When voters are ready to submit their mail-in ballot, they can mail it back or take it to a drop box spot.

On that topic a viewer wrote to ask about ballot drop boxes in Idaho.

McGrane says in Ada County there are a lot of options. Not in Ada County? No problem, there is a specific place you can take it no matter the county.

"If you're in your county, you can go to any clerk's office to drop off your ballot," McGrane said. "We will be adding additional drop box locations, we've already acquired more drop boxes for the upcoming election, and I'm hopeful that we'll be able to acquire a few more so, we'll be. We already have five drop off locations for this election, and we might get up to a total of 10, so anyone who's concerned about the Postal Service and having their ballot delivered timely or anything else, they can just go directly and drop off their ballot drop box and once then the box, it will be counted as long as it's delivered on time."

Laurie wrote in to KTVB saying she barely got her ballot back in time to mail it back for the August election. So she wants to know when will the November ballot be mailed?

"The very first ballot for this election our target date is September 30 that we will be bailing him out," McGrane said, "and we anticipate voters will see them in their mailboxes right around October 3 and October 5, so very beginning of October most voters will see their ballots. And that's why we encourage people to request them now, is then they'll have the entire month of October to either learn about the candidates, mark their votes and get them back to us in time, whether that's through the Postal Service or the drop boxes."

RELATED: Idaho special session bills signed into law, stage set for November election

There has been a lot of questions about the speed of the mail in terms of getting your ballot sent back in time. One viewer asks if adding extra postage stamps will upgrade it to first class mail, making it a faster mail service. McGrane says in Idaho adding postage isn't necessary.

"That's a great question because there's a lot of conversation nationally, Idaho always uses first class mail, so it doesn't matter," he said. "Our prepaid postage is also first-class mail and not bulk mail postage, the state has just always been doing that, there are other states that take advantage of bulk mail prices to reduce their costs, but here in Idaho we use first class mail. And so we don't anticipate any of the delays or concerns that have been brought up nationally." 

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