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Why early voting in Arizona is a good option amid the COVID-19 pandemic

With a huge voter turnout expected for the 2020 election and the coronavirus pandemic, early voting is a viable option to cast to your ballot.

PHOENIX —

Early voting for the 2020 election begins in Arizona on Oct. 7.

And this election is nothing like we have seen before, as we get set to cast ballots in a historic presidential race amid the COVID-19 pandemic.   

About 80% of Arizonans usually choose to vote early, according to the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission, a nonpartisan voter education organization. 

And with huge voter turnout expected and the current pandemic, early voting is a viable option to cast to your ballot. 

The early voting period runs from Oct. 7 to Oct. 30.  

In this time, you should receive your ballot in the mail and have time to fill it out if you signed up to receive an early voting mail-in ballot, either permanently or for one time. 

The deadline to request a mail-in ballot for the Nov. 3 election is Oct. 23 at 5:00 p.m. Request a mail-in ballot.

When you get your ballot and have it filled out, you can drop it off at an area polling place, a drop box, the County Recorder’s Office or Elections Office. Find drop box locations

You can also mail in your ballot. Voters are encouraged to mail their ballots back at least a week before the election to make sure it is counted. Don’t forget to sign it!  

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said in a statement to 12 News that voting by mail is "safe and accurate." 

"Most Arizonans already vote by mail, allowing them to fill out their ballot from the comfort of their home and then mail it back or drop it off at any drop-box or voting location in their county,"  Hobbs said.  

More information on voting in Arizona. 

“Arizonans should not have to choose between their right to vote and their health, which is why voters have more options to participate in the 2020 General Election."

Your ballot must be signed and turned in by 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 3 to be counted.

RELATED: What's on my Arizona ballot? Find out with the 12 News ballot guide

In the early voting period, voters can also vote in person at various polling locations. Operation hours and locations vary. Find polling locations 

With heightened concerns about voter safety, Maricopa County added more voting locations and extended hours of operation in an attempt to avoid long lines and crowding on Election Day. 

"Maricopa County has implemented safety measures and expanded voter access to provide voters with a safe, accessible, secure and transparent November General Election. We're preparing for historic voter turnout and working to ensure voters continue to have options," a Maricopa County Elections Department spokesperson said in an email. 

Find Maricopa County voting locations.

Maricopa County, Arizona's most populous county, is allowing residents to vote at any location in the county instead of at assigned locations.

RELATED: Arizona voter registration extended almost 3 weeks by last-minute court ruling

And of course, you can always choose to vote in-person on Election Day.  

“What is important for Arizona voters to know is that they have several options they can choose from in how they want to cast their ballot,” Gina Roberts, the voter education director for the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission, explained.  

RELATED: Everything you need to know for the 2020 election in Arizona

Roberts said in her experience with voters, the ones that choose to vote early by mail like the convenience. 

“It comes directly to your home. You can fill it out at your convenience and take time with it,” Roberts said.  

Voters are encouraged to plan out how they will vote whether they chose to vote early or wait to vote on Nov. 3. 

RELATED: When will mail-in ballots be sent? How can I vote early? FAQs about the 2020 election in Arizona