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It's now too late to mail your 2020 ballot. Here's what to do instead

Updated 12:43 PM ET, Thu October 29, 2020

(CNN) - Do this math: USPS says it needs seven days to safely deliver ballots. We're five days out from November 3.

Bottom line: If you've got a mail-in ballot, you probably shouldn't mail it.

Some states will still let voters request absentee ballots. And some states will accept absentee ballots from voters days or even weeks after Election Day. (Check your state here.)

But using USPS at this point is taking a gamble. Luckily, there are other alternatives including drop boxes, early polling places or old fashioned voting on Election Day at a polling place.

That's a recommendation repeated by election experts and government officials to CNN in recent days.

Kathy Boockvar, the secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, told CNN's Jake Tapper Tuesday that even though her state can count mail-in ballots received up until November 6 (three days after Election Day), she'd rather people just drop their ballots off.

"At this point, we're a week out, right? We've all heard of stories of ballots being delayed in the mail. I don't want anybody to lose their opportunity to vote, so I want every voter who has the ability to drop it off in person," Bockvar said.

Voters in most places can also deliver their absentee or mail ballots directly to their election offices to sidestep any potential mail delays. There's usually also the option to vote early or on Election Day. Repeat: The mail-in window is about closed.

In states that allow the counting of ballots received after Election Day -- including the battleground states of Ohio, Iowa and Nevada -- it's still possible too use the postal system and be outside that seven-day recommended time period.

A list of which states will accept mail-in ballots after Election Day is here.

Still, the USPS is dealing with a lot of ballots. CNN's Paul Murphy has been keeping track of their efforts to get them delivered on time.

• USPS created a national election task force and local election task forces that are comprised of local managers and union officials. • These local task forces meet daily; the national election mail task force meets every Thursday. • USPS has told local managers they are "authorized and expected" to use extraordinary measure to "accelerate the delivery of ballots" until November 24 • Local managers are expected to take ballots that arrive at post offices (from mail carriers picking them up or ones that are being dropped off in letter collection boxes) and having them postmark, and then deliver them directly to election offices. In some instances, they're doing this multiple times a day.

One last note -- verify receipt. It is essential, if you mailed your ballot, to make sure it was received, either by tracking it online or calling your local election office. Here's where to track your ballot.


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