An election worker opens envelopes containing vote-by-mail ballots for the August 4 Washington state primary at King County Elections in Renton, Washington on August 3, 2020.
Jason Redmond | AFP | Getty Images
The contest between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden has officially entered the voting phase.
North Carolina was scheduled to start mailing out more than 600,000 absentee ballots on Friday. The state, a hotly contested battleground, is the first to begin its vote-by-mail process.
Other states will follow suit in the coming days, with more than half starting to send out their ballots before the start of October. Eight states are also scheduled to open up early in-person voting in September.
Early voting, whether in person or by mail, is generally consequential, with more than 40 million Americans casting ballots ahead of Election Day in 2016. But because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it could be dramatically more important in 2020.
According to an NBC|SurveyMonkey poll released this week, 52% of adults plan to vote early this year, the bulk of which say they will do so via the mail. Democrats are far more likely to say they will vote by mail, while both Republicans and Democrats are about as likely to say they will vote early in person.
It is possible that dates may have changed in response to coronavirus, however, and it is best to check directly with your local elections office.