BOSTON (CBS) — More than one million Massachusetts voters have asked to receive a ballot in the mail for the 2020 Election, Secretary of State William Galvin said Tuesday. This is the first time Massachusetts has issued vote by mail ballots, sparked by health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Galvin’s office has mailed out over 949,000 ballots to residents so far. The state has received 149,000 ballots back from people who voted.READ MORE: Jerry Remy 'Resting Comfortably' At Hospital After Experiencing 'Shortness Of Breath' During Red Sox Telecast Friday
We’re quite delighted with this response,” Galvin said. “We think it’s certainly going to help not only increase the turnout but also give people the option of participating without concerning themselves about their health.”
In-person early voting begins Saturday for the Sept. 1 primary. Galvin said cities and towns are taking steps to increase social distancing among voters and have PPE on hand for poll workers.
“Voting in person will be safe,” Galvin said. “It will be safer than going to many supermarkets.”
Galvin also addressed the nationwide concerns about operational changes at the U.S. Postal Service that have led to delays in mail delivery. The House is returning for a special session to pass legislation that would prohibit the USPS from making changes to service levels.
Galvin said was “alarmed” by the postal service notifying states that ballots may not be delivered in time, and he’s prepared to go to court to make sure there are no interruptions with the mail.
“The postal service has been able to provide ballot deliveries even during wars, so I don’t understand why this would be such a problem and I really have to wonder about the motivation,” he said.READ MORE: Woburn Man Shot In Neck; Police Say Shooting May Have Been 'Accidental Or Unintentional'
Galvin is encouraging anyone who received a ballot in the mail to fill it out and return it as soon as possible. People who asked for and received their mail-in ballots can still change their minds and vote in person instead, as long as they haven’t mailed back their ballot.
The state has also advised communities to have drop boxes available at secure locations if voters want to return mail-in ballots themselves. Drop boxes are also being set up at early voting sites, Galvin said.
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Don't want to mail your ballot back? You can return your #VoteByMail ballot in person to any early voting location during early voting hours.
Find your early voting locations at https://t.co/jg3AQ7X59k.
— Mass. Elections (@VotingInMass) August 17, 2020
Voters who requested a mail-in ballot can use the “Track My Ballot” feature on the Secretary of State’s website to check the progress of their ballot.