2020 Election

Vote Smarter 2020: Is Voting In Person Better Than Voting By Mail?

Newsy's Vote Smarter 2020 aims to provide you with all the information you'll need to safely and successfully cast your ballot this year.

Vote Smarter 2020: Is Voting In Person Better Than Voting By Mail?
John Locher / AP

Is voting in person a better way to make sure your vote is counted?

"If you want the safety and reassurance of knowing that the ballot that you cast will be counted on Election Day, then many people feel more comfortable going in person," said Khalilah Brown-Dean, Ph.D., an associate professor of political science and senior director for inclusive excellence at Quinnipiac University.

With poll workers overseeing everything, voting in person does help reduce the chance there's a problem with your ballot.

"If you make an error on your on your ballot at the polls, you can get a new ballot right there. The voting tabulators are set up to not let you make an error on your ballot. Those kind of protections don't exist with absentee ballots," said Matthew Weil, the director of the Elections Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center. 

Choosing to vote in person doesn't mean you have to vote on Nov. 3. Forty-four states and Washington, D.C., offer a few days, or even weeks, of early in-person voting. 

"Early voting, you're doing it in person. So you know that your ballot is getting delivered to election officials, you're not depending on maybe the U.S. mail delivering it," said Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

Whatever option you choose, voting in 2020 is likely to be different than any election before. 

"You also have to weigh your commitment to democracy against the very real challenges that people have, in order to do so safely and effectively, given this current COVID-19 pandemic," said Brown-Dean.