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Voting by mail in Idaho: How to properly fill out absentee ballots and make sure your vote counts

A couple simple mistakes, like couples mixing their ballot envelopes, could disqualify a absentee ballot.

BOISE, Idaho — Editor's Note: The video above is a brief Q&A segment from KTVB's virtual town hall on Tuesday.

You've heard it once, you've heard it a 1,000 times, this upcoming election is one like none other because of the coronavirus pandemic. With less than six weeks away from Election Day and Idaho absentee ballots soon on their way to voters, here's what you need to know about how to properly fill out your ballot and make sure your vote counts.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, over 330,000 mail-in (or absentee) ballots have been requested in Idaho. Each absentee ballot has three parts - the ballot, a secret protective folder, then the mailing envelope.

The ballot and the secrecy folder are tied together - that's how the ballots are counted and tracked. The ballot must be mailed with the folder it came with and if not, then the ballot is considered spoiled and won't be counted. Each has a code that needs to match the other in order for that ballot to be counted. Once a ballot is mailed (and it doesn't require extra postage) you can track it on the state's Idaho Votes website. 

It is key that voters keep their mail-in ballot together when they receive it in the mail so there aren't any mixups that could disqualify someone's vote.

Idaho Secretary of State Lawrence Denney told KTVB during Tuesday's virtual town hall that its a common mistake that couples send in their ballots in the same envelope or swap secrecy folders.

The mailing envelopes are already are marked for first-class priority mailing through the USPS, so save yourself the stamp and don't put one on.

Absentee ballots also require voters to sign their ballots, which the state will compare to signatures of that particular signature to those on file. But don't worry, it doesn't need to match up 100% with your driver's license signature.

RELATED: Watch: We asked some of your November election questions during KTVB's virtual town hall

Denney thinks that at least 58% of registered Idaho voters will vote by mail, but he expects that figure to be much higher.

Absentee ballots will be mailed out beginning on Oct. 5. The pre-register deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 9 and the final deadline to request a ballot is Oct. 23. Early voting is also open from Oct. 13 to Oct. 30.

If you received an absentee ballot but decide you want to vote in person, you must bring your absentee ballot with you to the polls. 

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.

See our complete voter guide for more resources and news about the 2020 election.