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Viewpoint: Key voting dates, deadlines, and details for Idaho

If you requested an absentee ballot for the November election, expect it to be in your mailbox in the coming days.

BOISE, Idaho — If you requested an absentee ballot for the November election, expect it to be in your mailbox in the coming days. Counties have begun mailing them out, or will by Monday.

If you have not requested one yet, you have until 5 p.m. on October 23. So far, the state has received more than 350,000 absentee ballot requests.

Here are some other key dates and deadlines:

The deadline to pre-register to vote is Oct. 9. If you miss that deadline, you can register at your polling place on election day. Same-day registration is also available at early voting locations.

RELATED: Voter Guide 2020: Everything you need to know about the November election in Idaho

Early voting is available Oct. 19-30, although this varies by county. Check with your elections office to see if and where it is offered. Early voting in Ada County begins on Oct. 13.

Oct. 27 is the suggested absentee ballot mailing deadline, so it gets to your clerk's office on time.

Election day is Nov. 3. Polls will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Absentee ballots must be at your clerk's office by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Drop boxes are also set up at certain locations if you prefer to deliver them that way instead of through the mail.

RELATED: Idaho getting close to registering its millionth voter

Elections officials encourage voters to fill them out and mail them back sooner rather than later.

"There's been a lot of conversation about the United States Postal Service and whether they're going to be able to deliver the mail. We had a conference call with them the other day and, bottom line, they're ready to deliver mail for the country. They're ready to deliver the mail for Idaho," Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck said. "So, yes, getting it back early not only helps them, but it really helps the county clerks get their job done and let their staffs do their job of checking the different pieces that go into getting the absentee ballot ready to go. They need to inspect those envelopes and inspect the signatures on them. They need to have time to resolve any issues, and they can't do that if they only get it at 7:30 on election night."

RELATED: These are the most common reasons absentee ballots are rejected in Idaho, according to election experts

Because of the special circumstances created by the coronavirus pandemic, Idaho lawmakers gave counties more time to deal with the huge volume of absentee ballots.

During the special legislative session this summer, they passed a law allowing counties to start processing ballots seven days before election day.

"It's kind of a two-phase. We're scanning and getting the image, but the computers will not be set to go read those images and figure out what the votes are until after the polls close at 8 p.m.," Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane said. "That way we can ensure no one, including myself, will know any results until everyone has completed voting, which is a key part of the process to maintain the integrity.”

RELATED: Ada County begins mailing ballots for November election

For a county-by-county ballot breakdown of the races and issues, click here 

On Viewpoint this Sunday morning at 6:30, elections officials also talk about the common mistakes to avoid with your absentee ballot, the measures they have in place to prevent voter fraud and to protect and verify your ballot, as well as the safety measures that will be in place at in-person polling locations.

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